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Zion National Park in Utah ~ Monolithic Domed Splendor!

Updated on July 31, 2017
Peggy W profile image

Utah is a fantastic state filled with natural wonders including many beautiful state and national parks. We loved vacationing there!

Kolob Canyons in Zion National Park
Kolob Canyons in Zion National Park | Source

Zion National Park

This article will introduce you to the wondrous sights that are to be found in Zion National Park in Utah. Monolithic domed splendor will be discovered there as well as meadows, waterfalls, hiking trails and more. Many pictures will be presented as well. Hope that you enjoy this scenic portrayal a fraction as much as we did while there in person.

In an earlier plane ride my mother, niece and I had seen Kolob Canyons from the air. Now, from Cedar City we explored it by car.

Driving through Kolob Canyons
Driving through Kolob Canyons | Source

Kolob Canyons

Kolob Canyons is a part of Zion National Park and is located in the Northwest portion of the park.

If one has the time and energy, there is a 14 mile round trip hike to Kolob Arch which happens to be the largest arch in the world.

My mother is not much of a hiker, and our time allotment for this trip would not have allowed this in any case as our desire was to see all 5 of the national parks in Utah on our two week trip.

Kolob Canyons
Kolob Canyons | Source

Kolob Canyons is primarily composed of a deep red hue of Navajo sandstone and is less frequently visited than the southern part of Zion National Park.

All of the many box canyons in Kolob were easily viewed from the perspective of seeing it from the air. One would have to do some significant hiking to get the same impression on foot.

Flanagan's Inn in Springdale - South side of Zion National Park
Flanagan's Inn in Springdale - South side of Zion National Park | Source

Springdale, Utah

In order to more easily see more of Zion National Park, we changed locations and rented a room in Springdale.

We had been staying in Cedar City which was more convenient for seeing Kolob Canyons.

Staying at Flanagan's Inn while in Springdale was most enjoyable.

Springdale is located at the southern entrance into Zion and the views from our motel were already stunning.

Swimming pool & view from Flanagan's Inn
Swimming pool & view from Flanagan's Inn | Source

Zion National Park was first called Mukuntuweap National Monument. It was changed to Zion National Monument and finally Zion National Park in 1919.

The Kolob section became part of the National Park in 1956.

Approaching Zion from the south
Approaching Zion from the south | Source

Geology in Zion

The geology of the area is interesting. Approximately 10,000 feet of accumulated sediment originating as long ago as 240 million years has formed the basis for what we see parts of today in Zion National Park.

This area used to be a fairly flat basin that was almost at sea level. Deposits of sand, mud and gravel from nearby mountains was carried to this area by streams that meandered through the adjacent meadows and desert lands.

Winds whipped up giant sand dunes. Over time all of this solidified and the weight caused the sediments to compress and subside.

An inland shallow sea helped to carry and deposit minerals into these layers of sediment which eventually cemented the layers into stone. Over the course of about 10 million years this area was uplifted due to a shifting deep within the earth and areas that used to be sea level are now as high as 10,000 feet above sea level.

The Virgin River that runs through what was to eventually be called Zion began its carving and sculpting of the majestic walls of the mountains and canyons that we view today. Rain, wind and erosion make this an ever changing landscape.

Zion is so awe inspiring and viewing the monumental walls, cliffs and overlooks in the light of early dawn to dusk makes this an ever changing palate of colors and moods.

Obviously one could spend weeks or months exploring just this one park. Offered are a variety of trails from short and easy hiking to long and arduous. Much of this beauty can also be viewed from the road, but to enjoy it more intimately, some hiking would be my recommendation if possible.

Weeping Rock in Zion National Park
Weeping Rock in Zion National Park | Source

Weeping Rock Trail in Zion

Weeping Rock is an easy half mile trail that my niece and I enjoyed.

The water comes right out of the rock supporting ferns and other plant life.

One could stay fairly dry under the overhang or choose to let the water drip on you and cool you off as many people on the trail ultimately chose to do.

On the Weeping Rock trail in Zion National Park

Click thumbnail to view full-size
On the Weeping Rock trail Weeping Rock trail Weeping rocks
On the Weeping Rock trail
On the Weeping Rock trail | Source
Weeping Rock trail
Weeping Rock trail | Source
Weeping rocks
Weeping rocks | Source

Lower and Upper Emerald Pools

While my mother waited by the scenic resting place by the Virgin River below, enjoying the sight of people floating by in rented inner tubes, my niece and I hiked to the Lower and Upper Emerald Pools.

It is quite strenuous hiking to get up to the Upper Emerald Pool. Most people that made it that far were happy to cool off in the water.

The scenery at every twist and turn in the trail was gorgeous.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Starting the trail to the Lower Emerald Pool Beautiful scenery along the wayLower Emerald Pool in Zion
Starting the trail to the Lower Emerald Pool
Starting the trail to the Lower Emerald Pool | Source
Beautiful scenery along the way
Beautiful scenery along the way | Source
Lower Emerald Pool in Zion
Lower Emerald Pool in Zion | Source

Emerald Pools, Zion National Park

Click thumbnail to view full-size
People were cooling off in the Upper Emerald Pool after the arduous hike getting there. View looking up from the Upper Emerald Pool
People were cooling off in the Upper Emerald Pool after the arduous hike getting there.
People were cooling off in the Upper Emerald Pool after the arduous hike getting there. | Source
View looking up from the Upper Emerald Pool
View looking up from the Upper Emerald Pool | Source

Temple of Sinawava

After hiking back down from visiting the Lower and Upper Emerald Pools we rejoined my mother who was patiently waiting.

Next we drove to the area called the Temple of Sinawava.

It is a ceremonial place that aboriginal Indians used for their special ceremonies.

There is a great profusion of colors in the rocks and the trail takes one alongside the river.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
In the parking lot at the Temple of Sinawava Temple of Sinawava photoTemple of Sinawava photoTemple of Sinawava photo and the river flowing through this area.
In the parking lot at the Temple of Sinawava
In the parking lot at the Temple of Sinawava | Source
Temple of Sinawava photo
Temple of Sinawava photo | Source
Temple of Sinawava photo
Temple of Sinawava photo | Source
Temple of Sinawava photo and the river flowing through this area.
Temple of Sinawava photo and the river flowing through this area. | Source

One can hike alongside and then into the river to see more fantastic scenery. While we did not do this, the video below will show what beautiful scenery can be seen.

The Great White Throne in Zion

Towering 2,447 feet above the canyon floor, the Great White Throne in Zion National Park is the largest monolith in the world.

It rises 2,447 feet above the canyon floor.

Through the years many people have been awed by this site and feelings of reverence have been attached to the beauty and grandeur of this striking location.

We felt like sensory overload this day.

There is such striking beauty at each and every turn of one's head in this park whether on a trail or on the road!

Great White Throne in Zion
Great White Throne in Zion | Source

Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel

The east end of Zion National Park has an entirely different character.

One goes through the 1.1 mile Zion-Mount-Carmel tunnel which was blasted out of solid rock to get there.

The tunnel was built in 1930 and has 6 "windows" that were broken out at various intervals.

Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel
Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel | Source

The rocks in the east end of Zion park are entirely different looking.

It is hard to believe that the differences are so dramatic!

Ancient sand dunes that were sculpted by wind and rain have formed these striated rocks of various colors and shapes.

Many were flat and were fun to walk on and explore.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Notice how the rocks look entirely different? Checkerboard Mesa
Notice how the rocks look entirely different?
Notice how the rocks look entirely different? | Source
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Source
Source
Source
Checkerboard Mesa
Checkerboard Mesa | Source

Canyon Overlook Trail

Amazingly, my niece was getting tired and decided to keep my mother company while I took the one hour Canyon Overlook Trail by myself.

This trail is just east of the Zion - Mt. Carmel highway.

It is considered to be an easy and self guided trail that ends with spectacular views of the lower Zion Canyon and Pine Creek Canyon.

I was happy that there were others on the trail as in places I would have wondered exactly where the trail was leading. Some people were climbing rocks in one place and others chose other rocks to navigate. Seeing people ahead of those of us on the trail at least gave us the general direction to pursue.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Walking through a side canyon with an overhang Scenery viewed from the overhang Which way is the trail?
Walking through a side canyon with an overhang
Walking through a side canyon with an overhang | Source
Scenery viewed from the overhang
Scenery viewed from the overhang | Source
Which way is the trail?
Which way is the trail? | Source

The spectacular scenery viewed while on the Canyon Overlook Trail was definitely worth the hike.

Most of the tourists on the trail with me that day were speaking foreign languages. Our national parks are enjoyed by people from all over the world.

Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion
Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion | Source

If you have not yet visited Zion National Park, I hope that this inspires you to add this to your vacation bucket list.

Hiking the Canyon Overlook Trail
Hiking the Canyon Overlook Trail | Source

We saw more of Utah's parks and each of them has their own special kind of distinctive beauty. They are addressed in separate posts.

Zion is truly a spectacular national park worthy of an initial visit and then returning ones!

The Canyon Overlook
The Canyon Overlook | Source

Lichens

In places the wet rocks have lichens clinging to the rock surfaces. Rocks are always beautiful when wet, and the plant life added to the beauty when viewed up close.

Lichens are formed out of millions of algae cells held together by fungal filaments.

They are a source of food for animals and have even provided the same for humans at times.

Some are used medicinally or as dyes in various parts of the world.

In heavily polluted areas lichens do not readily grow. Thus air quality can be determined by the presence or absence of lichens.

Source

See even more images in the videos below. You just might want to pack your bags and plan a visit there!

Suffice it to say Zion National Park is one of many wonders in Utah awaiting your own personal discovery. If you are looking for monolithic domed splendor you need look no further!

Would you like to see Zion National Park in person?

See results

Where Zion National Park is located.

A markerZion National Park -
Zion National Park, Virgin, UT 84779, USA
get directions

© 2008 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed. Thanks!

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    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      We only allowed a couple of days at most for each national park plus the time driving between them and seeing some state parks along the way. Altogether it was a fabulous Utah vacation trip and one that I will never forget.

      Obviously one could spend much more time in every national park but we at least had a great introduction and overview. Thanks for the shares!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      5 national parks in 2 weeks; did you have time to sleep at all? These photos are truly incredible and gorgeous. I'm glad the name was changed from Mukuntuweap National Monument to Zion because I don't think I could ever pronounce that other name, though it is no doubt an Indian name and interesting. This park looks every bit as amazing as the Grand Canyon. I was at the opening once but it was around March I think, and it was snowed in. Never got back to that part of Utah, unfortunately. Excellent article and photos!

      Gave you 5 more stars, pinned to my 'Travel' board, Voted up and BAUI, posted on FB, and sharing with my followers.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Mary,

      Zion is so magnificent as are the other 4 national parks in Utah. I guess there are many canyons that could be included in a "canyon tour" with the Grand Canyon probably being the one most people would think of first. One of the national parks in Utah is actually called Canyonlands. Glad that you enjoyed the photos. Thanks for the vote and the share. Hope you write about your trip someday.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      This is just a beautiful Hub in every way. I really learned a lot about the area, and your photos are spectacular! I noticed in your poll that I'm not the only one who has never been to Zion National Park but would like to go. In fact, I don't remember Utah being on my canyon tour I took several years ago.

      Beautiful Hub. I voted it UP, etc. and will share so that others can see your work. I will also Pin it.

      Bye for now...

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Vinaya,

      We have numerous national parks in the United States and each is different. The state of Utah has 5 of them and this does not even include the national monuments and state parks. It is an amazing place! Most of our large national parks also have wildlife depending upon the location but no rhinos or tigers. We do have buffalo, elk and bobcats, etc. in some of them. NIce to know that you enjoyed this virtual visit. Thanks for your comment. Would be fun to see your national parks!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Here in Nepal, we have more than a dozen national parks, but our national parks are either jungles with rhinos and tigers, or shimmering Himalayas, some of which are the highest mountains in the world.

      Thanks for this wonderful virtual tour to Zion.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Barbara Kay,

      Utah is a State where so much of it is held in public lands that I am sure you would enjoy visiting it. We were awed by each and every National Park and other areas. Glad that you enjoyed these photos and videos from Zion. If you wish to see more, just check out my other Utah hubs. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Happyboomernurse,

      My mother, niece and I spent an entire vacation period in Utah one year seeing all 5 national parks + some state parks and other areas. It is a wonderland of beautiful scenery. I wrote about many different areas in Utah and would love to return there someday to see more. Glad you enjoyed the photos and information about Zion National Park. Thanks for your comment and votes.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      These photos are just awesome. I had never thought about visiting Utah, but you give me good reason to want to go there.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Wow! The photos in this hub were spectacular and the facts about the geology of the area were fascinating. I had no idea that the region was once sea level or how the canyon formations were naturally created out of sand dunes. How wonderful that you got to experience this trip with your niece and mother and are now able to share this with us. Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi kiran8, I hope you get to visit them also. You will not be disappointed. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • kiran8 profile image

      kiran8 8 years ago from Mangalore, India

      Spectacular! I wish i get an opportunity to visit all these wonderful places that you write about..the pics are fabulous, thanks a lot :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Trsmd, We were there once in the winter when there was a lot of snow on the ground. Beautiful scenery! The roads were all open but we did not have the time nor inclination to walk any of the trails as we had done that in the summertime.

      The winters are generally mild in that region and many of the trails remain open. However, some trails that see little sun may become icy or muddy. You can check with the visitor's center at their 24 hour number regarding winter trail conditions and weather forecasts. That number is 1-435-772-3256.

      The Zion Lodging Reservations number is 1-866-875-8456. The person taking your reservation could also probably advise you as to the trail conditions.

      Hope this helps! The winter photographs that I have seen of Zion are spectacular!

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 8 years ago from India

      several national parks nearby Zion national park are still open. Just wonder whether is durable to walk outside at the end of December?