Zion National Park was the third of Utah’s National Parks that we visited in 1994 after attending the Oregon-California Trails Association national convention in Salt Lake City. We reached the park from its east entrance on Highway 9 after visiting Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome Basin earlier that day and then driving down Highway 89. The Zion-Mt Carmel Highway was opened in 1930 and allows drivers to connect to both Cedar Breaks and Bryce Canyon National Park to the north and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the south.
Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.
Zion was named a National Monument in 1909 by President Taft but he called it Mukuntuweap, a Paiute word meaning “sacred cliffs” and the name John Wesley Powell used when he explored the area in the 19th century. But the National Park Service changed the name to Zion — the name Mormon settlers gave to the land — in 1918 and Congress declared Zion a National Park in 1919.
A Methodist minister named Frederick Fisher named several of the rock formations n Zion Canyon in 1916. Among them are The Great White Throne (6744 ft above sea level), Angel’s Landing and The Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).
This was our second visit to Zion. We also traveled here during our 30-day trip to the Southwest in 1975. On that trip we drove to Nevada and then through Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado before returning westward along the Utah-Arizona border. After visiting the Grand Canyon’s North Rim we drove north to Zion and then west to Nevada and back to California. Here are some photos from that first trip:
I digitized my 1975 slides in 2006 using the software that came with my newly purchased Nikon Super Coolscan scanner. They were in much better shape than my 1994 slides that I digitized in 2014 with the same scanner but with a different software package (VueScan). The Nikon software would not work with my newer computer with a later version of Windows.
The Zion-Mt Carmel Highway was opened in 1930, allowing drivers to connect to both Cedar Breaks National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park to the north and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the south. There have been a few rock slides that temporarily closed the highway during the last couple of years. Zion is now easily accessible from Interstate Highway 15 to the west and then it’s a short drive eastward on SR-9 to Springdale. But more than a million people a year still drive Highways 89 and 9 to the park’s east entrance.
We were able to drive the length of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive on both of our trips to Zion. But nowadays private vehicles are forbidden (from March through October) and you have to board a park shuttle bus at the Visitor Center if you want to travel down the Scenic Drive. In order to further discourage driving your vehicle to the park, the National Park Service also operates a shuttle service to the Visitor Center from several spots in Springdale.
Zion was the first National Park in Utah and it is still the most popular. See here and here for more information on Zion National Park, including lodging, camping, hiking, backpacking, and canyoneering.