Zion National Park Turns 100

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Zion National Park Turns 100

It’s been exactly 100 years since President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation that established Zion National Park in southwestern Utah. Fewer than 2,000 people visited back in 1919 due to poor road conditions and lack of trails. These days, the park has the opposite problem—with more than 4 million people coming each year, crowds create long lines for shuttles and clog popular areas such as the Narrows. Part of Zion Canyon, the Narrows can be seen from a paved path. But many people like to experience it up close by hiking in the Virgin River, and it can get crowded at peak times since it’s—as the name implies—narrow.

In recent years, Zion has even moved ahead of Yellowstone and Yosemite to become the fourth most-visited US national park (Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain parks are the top three respectively). Also contributing to Zion’s popularity is its proximity to other attractions. It’s part of the Grand Circle, a region that includes parts of five states and is the most concentrated area of national parks and monuments in the country.

National Park Service

23 Comments on Zion National Park Turns 100

  1. There used to be a sign warning you that if there was even one cloud in the sky do not hike the Virgin River into the narrows. People have died when flash floods fill the narrows full to the tippy top during a close by or far away rainstorm!

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  2. Enya soundtrack, nice touch.

    My top 3 National Parks (in order of most visits); Yosemite, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. Mesa Verde was also pretty cool, well worth a visit.

    I didn’t see much by way of hiking trails at Zion, is there anything to do there except drive through?

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  3. Ranger Dan down here in the South West we tend to take FLASH FLOOD warnings serious! Sometimes the Snowbirds think it’s a myth…until their motorhomes get washed away!

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  4. I took my family there about 5 years ago.
    @Claudia – That’s were I took the photo of the Momma deer brushing off her fawn that was hungry. It was at the main entrance sign.
    I also found a flock of Wild Turkeys (Merriam’s subspecies) right outside the main lodge, hanging out in a tree next to the main entrance road right at dusk.
    If you visit you MUST take the Mount Camel Highway.

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  5. Jethro, I love that picture! Have used it a couple times in the Sunday Critters.

    Zion is one of my favorite national parks. Love the water seeping out of the rocks. Lush vegetation where you wouldn’t expect it.

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  6. Best road trip We ever took weeks was in the summer of 2007 five weeks on the road, before that we had never taken one week off.
    We went to 17 National Parks on that trip. Our 10 year old daughter in the back seat loved every mile of the 5,600 miles of seeing America, not one cross word if we had a pool at the end of the day.
    The list. Promontory, Arches, Zion, Brice, The Grand Canyon North North and South Rim. Mesa Verde,Canyon Lands,Death Valley,
    Yosemite. Plus many more.
    If you have the chance go to any park you will love it.
    It you want to see more than one in a year buy a yearly pass for 80 dollars most parks charge 20 to 25 dollars to get in.

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  7. I’m looking forward to going to Bryce Canyon (also Utah). My sister’s family loves that park. Always wanted to go to Arches and Grand Canyon. I prefer rock and desert. LOL.

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  8. I’ve been to Zion 3 times (from Toronto) and hope to go again soon. Every single National Park in the U.S. is beautiful in its own way and worth seeing!!

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  9. Many scenes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid filmed there. My boys and I trespassed to get to the famous bicycle and Katherine Ross barn scene and only complainers were a few cows. Grafton UT.

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  10. First time, with my moms, I was there I had to jump out and check my overhead clearance! Had two bicycles up there and just wanted to make sure.

    Acadia is a great kind of unknown NP up there in Maine, Glacier is off the charts, Crater Lake in the middle of no where…Got Smokeys?

    Oh and Yellowstone, started it all. Not too long after the immediate consecration of Gettysburg, one of America’s first acts of preservation was Yellowstone (1887) set aside as a preserve forever.

    Oh and for the record? Adirondack Park (1885) is the biggest in the lower 48, although not technically a NP.

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  11. Yeah, honey, that was an incredible trip!

    Two things I’ll always remember: Our ten year-old of Chinese descent singing/yodeling along with the Ghost Riders in the Sky. She loved that CD.

    How the Black Bear Diner in Susanville served the very last pot roast dinner — the one you were so looking forward to — to that very large woman a few tables over…and how, the very next morning — when you dreamed all night about Black Bear’s corned beef hash — you were all set to order it for breakfast and the waitress pointed at the locked semi out in the parking lot, “It’s in there. Frozen.”

    We kept a running list of every critter we saw on our trip. We came up with over 50, including a badger, and a momma bobcat and her three babies! I’m the only one to have spied the elusive Kiabab squirrel, though Geoff disputes my claim.

    Oh, we also rode mules partway down the canyon. Our daughter’s ride was later dubbed “Farty of the Grand Canyon” (for obvious reasons).

    Our kid earned her Junior Ranger badge at every park!

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  12. Lots of evidence of Noah’s flood right in front of everyone’s eyes. Layers and layers of sedimentary rock settled out as tides from the Moon and Sun had no land mass to keep them in check that year.

    I enjoy seeing it every time. All over the world.

    Thank you, God, for leaving obvious proof of your greatness.

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  13. No one mentioned Sequoia NP?
    If you haven’t been, ya gotta go, in spite of it being in CA.
    Nothing in the world like groves of amazingly gigantic trees.
    And that’s just part of it.

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