Zion National Park
In 1863 a Mormon settler named Isaac Behunin built his cabin in the canyon and called his abode Zion, feeling that he had at last reached the Promised Land. Zion is an ancient Hebrew word meaning a sacred place of refuge. Today his sanctuary is recognised as a national park, protecting a spectacular landscape of carved canyons and towering rock walls, with cliff-hanging fern gardens and a great variety of animals, including the tiny Zion Snail. Sculpted by the Virgin River, Zion Canyon is the park's verdant centrepiece, a dramatic gorge between towering cliffs with the sounds of running water echoing off the walls. It can become very clogged in summer, but it is fairly easy to escape the crowds on many of the trails off the main route. The park encourages discovery, and visitors keen to explore will find a natural wealth of forests, waterfalls, huge stone sculptures and monuments, as well as numerous hiking trails, the most famous of which is through The Narrows where a hiker will wade, swim and hike between soaring pastel-coloured rock walls barely 20ft (6m) across in places. One of the highlights is travelling the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive with viewpoints of many of the park's most famous rock formations, particularly the 'Great White Throne', a massive block of sandstone considered to be the symbol of Zion National Park. The charming hamlet of Springdale at the southern entrance is the gateway to the park.
Telephone: (435) 772 3256
Transport: There is no public transport to the park. During summer months (April to October) no private vehicles may travel the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and access is by shuttle bus only. All other parts of the park are open to private vehicles. Parking is available at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, but to avoid congestion it is recommended that visitors leave their cars in Springdale and take the shuttle into the park. Buses are free and run from 5.30am to 11pm
Opening times: Park open daily, year round. Kolob Canyon Visitors Center daily 8am to 5pm; Zion Canyon Visitors Center daily 8am to 7pm. Zion Human History Museum daily 9am to 7pm. Hours are shorter in winter. All are closed Christmas Day
Admission: $25 (vehicles), $12 (walk-ins and bicycles). Entrance fees are valid for seven days