Here are 10 Facts about Zion National Park that you probably didn’t know! These cool facts are great to learn or brush up on before going into the park! Also, looking for some cool hikes? Then check out our post on Top 5 Hikes in Zion (and finding the one that’s right for your family).
COOL FACTS ABOUT ZION
#1: Zion comes from Hebrew
The name Zion is used anciently to mean “sanctuary”. It seems fitting once you see it– although it wasn’t its original name (that takes us to fact number two…).
#2. It wasn’t originally called “Zion”
When Mormon settlers discovered the area in 1869 following their expedition to the Grand Canyon, they originally called it Mukuntuweap. It wasn’t until it became a national park that it was renamed Zion.
#3. It officially became a National Park in 1919
While it was protected by President Taft in 1909 as Mukuntuweap National Monument, those in charge felt it needed a name that was easier to pronounce (therefore more likely to attract visitors). Bonus Trivia: Go to number #10 to see how to properly pronounce Zion to avoid looking like a tourist.
#4. Yes, the wildlife really does steal your food.
Rock Squirrels will, in fact, sneak into your bag and steal your food if you’re not watching. Signs are posted to not feed the wildlife, so mind your crackers and Pop Tarts.
#5. It’s home to one of the tallest, most dangerous hikes in the world
Angels Landing is almost 1,500 feet high and a full 2.2 miles to hike (much of it uphill and on switchbacks– as well as chains and drops offs on either side of the trail). You can absolutely hike the first part of it with children (Scout’s Lookout is great for families with young ones who love a good hike and are packing plenty of water– otherwise, here are plenty of other choices perfect for young families). Certainly only recommended for those with good hiking shoes and careful hikers. If you brave the trail, however, you won’t find any views more spectacular than the top of Angels Landing. You can literally see 360 degrees around the whole peak.
#6. More than 4 million visitors come every year
Back in 1920, fewer than 4,000 visitors frequented the park. Today, the amount of visitors has grown so widely that often it can be difficult to move through the park (Zion is mostly traveled through one highway). To help alleviate traffic and obstruction, in the year 2000 Zion began a shuttle service to the West canyon. This canyon is where several trailheads begin: Temple of Sinewava, Angels Landing, Temple of the Patriarchs, Emerald Pools, the Narrows, West Rim Trail, Subway, and Mystery Canyon. To get to those hikes, you DO need to take the shuttle (and in some cases get a permit). Other beautiful hikes like Canyon Overlook will be the East canyon drive which you can do with your own vehicle (and will take you through an amazing tunnel carved right into the mountainside).
#7. It used to be home to the Anasazi
The Anasazi once inhabited the area and created many dwellings and rock art somewhere between 800 and 1,500 years ago– many of which are still able to be seen today.
#8. The Virgin River Not Only Formed Zion, It’s STILL Forming It
Thanks to rainfall and flash flooding that occasionally hit the park, the Virgin River redeposits tons and tons of sediment annually. This means the canyon is deepening and widening all the time (though not fast enough to really notice).
#9. The road from Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park is only 72 miles apart
Wanting to hit two parks in one visit? Wondering how far it is from Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park? Luckily it’s only about an hour and a half drive, though both parks will take longer than that to explore properly. We definitely recommend taking your time in Zion– it’s just fun to know you don’t have to travel far to see another amazing park full of incredible hikes (many of which are great for young children).
#10. Locals can tell you’re a tourist by the way you pronounce Zion
Yes, there is a right way to pronounce Zion… at least according to locals in the area. Shopkeepers and friendly locals can tell you’re ‘not from around here‘ with or without full hiking gear and a camera. Why? Because visitors often pronounce the park’s name as “zi-ON” (with ON being emphasized), whereas locals say it more like “Zion” (rhyming with “lion”). If you want to blend in a little (or be able to tell locals from tourists), remember Zion rhymes with lion. You’re welcome!
Looking for a fun Children’s Book about Zion National Park? Look no further, we’ve got you covered!
Check out Dilbert the Duck Visits Zion National Park!