The walls of Zion Canyon soar more than 2,000 feet above the valley below, but it's the character, not the size, of the sandstone forms that defines the park's splendor. Throughout the park, stratigraphic evidence points to the distant past, with fantastically colored bands of limestone, sandstone, and lava. Stripes and spots of greenery high in the cliff walls create a "hanging garden" effect, and invariably indicate the presence of water seepage or a spring. Erosion has left behind a collection of domes, fins, and blocky massifs bearing the names and likenesses of cathedrals and temples, prophets and angels.Trails lead deep into side canyons and up narrow ledges to waterfalls, serene spring-fed pools, and shaded spots of solitude. So diverse is this place that 85% of Utah's flora and fauna species are found here. Some, like the tiny Zion snail, appear nowhere else in the world.The Colorado River helped create the Grand Canyon, while the Virgin River—the Colorado's muddy progeny—carved Zion's features. Because of the park's unique topography, distant storms and spring runoff can transform a tranquil slot canyon into a sluice.
Copyright © Tue May 23 14:04:32 EDT 2017 by Fodor's Travel, a division of Random House, LLC. All rights reserved.
Things You Can't Miss
Utah Hwy. 9, eastern entry to the park, provides nonstop roadside views. Hike the easy, one-mile Canyon Overlook Trail for more spectacular scenery.
Free shuttle buses allow access to sites along this 6.2-mile route in the heart of the park. Hop off at Emerald Pools for a walk past tall waterfalls.
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Up for a bit of a workout? Not afraid of heights? This classic five-mile round-trip hike climbs to one of the best overall panoramas of Zion Canyon.
These 10 hikes will take you to some of the most spectacular spots our parks have to offer.
Stroll the Riverside Walk to Zion’s famed Narrows, then hike (or wade) at least a short distance into this steep-walled chasm to revel in its beauty.
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How many of these amazing wonders of nature in the U.S. have you seen?
Accessed off I-15, five-mile Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive sees far fewer visitors than Zion Canyon. Walk the easy Timber Creek Overlook Trail for splendid views.
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Shared Trips to this Destination
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