The Hidden Meaning Behind the Zion Name

June 2nd, 2014

The name Zion is often used to describe a place appointed by the Lord where his followers can live and serve God. Scripture refers to Zion as the “City of Holiness” and a “city of refuge” where the Lord protects his people from the evils in the world.

Zion Panorama

The Naming of Zion Canyon

In the 1850s, Mormon missionaries from Salt Lake City became the first white settlers along the Virgin River in southwest Utah where they grew cotton and other crops. By the late 1850s, these settlers had pushed north into what is now known as Zion Canyon.

Before the missionaries became permanent residents in the canyon, they first needed to know if the terrain would allow them to continue growing their crops. A Mormon missionary named Nephi Johnson set out to explore the canyon and to compile a report on the agricultural possibilities.

Johnson’s report was favorable for permanently moving into the canyon, and in 1861 the first Mormon established his farm on the canyon floor. Within the next year, several other families moved into the surrounding area which is now known as Springdale.

Isaac Behunin

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In 1963, Isaac Behunin built a one-room cabin near the current site of Zion Lodge and began farming tobacco, sugar cane and fruit. It was Behunin who named the canyon Zion, saying, “These great mountains are natural temples of God. We can worship here as well as in the man-made temples at Zion, the biblical heavenly ‘City of God.’”

Brigham Young traveled from Salt Lake City to view the canyon. He agreed that it had immense natural beauty but didn’t think any place on earth should have the name Zion. After Young’s announcement, the settlers began calling the canyon, “Little Zion” or “Not Zion”.

The Transformation from Zion Canyon to Zion National Park

Years later, in 1908, a federal land survey was conducted at the canyon, and a proclamation was issued naming it a new Monument. Then, in 1909, President Taft declared the canyon a National Monument.

Shortly after becoming a National Monument, a National Park Service was created and lodging and roads were added. During this expansion period, a member of the American Civic Association requested to change the name to Zion Canyon, which was approved.

In 1919, the Monument was declared a National Park and the name Zion National Park became its official moniker. Nowadays, it is the busiest of Utah’s five national parks. It is home to dozens of hikes, scenic views and fun activities for all sorts of visitors.

Zion is a word that has a lot of meaning for different people. Is there anything that you know about the word that we didn’t cover here?


Quiz: What Hike Should You do Today?

May 29th, 2014

Zion has hikes for everyone, from families with young children to experienced hikers. It’s no wonder that people from all over the world flock to Zion to take advantage of the hiking opportunities.

So with all of the hikes to choose from, which one is best for you right now? Answer these 10 questions, and we will suggest a hike that matches up with what you’re looking for.

Where Is Zion National Park and Best Ways to Get There

May 27th, 2014

Zion National Park is one of Utah’s state treasures. It features steep cliffs and beautiful canyons that work together to form an outdoor adventurer’s paradise.

Angel's Landing

But the first step to enjoying Zion is getting there. And since Zion isn’t on the outskirts of any major cities, it takes a small amount of planning to figure out how to get to it.

Where is Zion National Park?

The park is located in Springdale, Utah which is in the southwest corner of the state. It encompasses parts of Washington, Iron and Kane counties.

Utah Map

Zion is designated as Utah’s oldest national park and is home to 69 species of mammals, 208 different types of birds, 29 reptiles, six amphibians and 9 types of fish. It covers 145,598 acres with a low elevation of 3,666 ft at Coalpit Wash and a high elevation of 8,726 ft at Horse Ranch Mountain.

Situated at the intersection of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Mojave Desert, the park is known for its diverse terrain which includes mountains, canyons, mesas, rivers, monoliths and natural arches.

Easiest Ways to Get to Zion National Park

Zion National Park is just 2.5 hours from Las Vegas, 4 hours from Salt Lake City and 6 to 7 hours from Los Angeles. You can drive to the park, but during the park’s busy season (from April to November), the main canyon is accessible only by shuttle.

Flight Map

Air travel. When traveling to Zion National Park by plane, you have the option to land in two major cities: Las Vegas which is 170 miles from the park, and Salt Lake City which is 311 miles from the park.

If you fly into Salt Lake City you can take a connecting flight into Saint George, Utah or Cedar City, Utah. Saint George is just 49 miles from the park, and Cedar City is 60 miles from the park.

By car. If you plan to travel by car from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Saint George or Cedar City, there are some easy and direct routes you can take to get to the park quickly.

From Las Vegas (163 miles from Zion) or Saint George (40 miles from Zion):

  • Jump on Interstate 15 north
  • Take exit 16 and stay right on State Route 9 East for 33 miles
  • Stay right to continue on State Route 9 East in La Verkin, Utah for 20 miles
  • Stay on State Route 9 East into Zion National Park

From Salt Lake City (307 miles from Zion) or Cedar City (57 miles from Zion):

  • Jump on Interstate 15 south
  • Take exit 27 and stay left on State Route 17 South for 26 miles
  • Stay left on State Route 9 East in La Verkin for 20 miles
  • Continue on State Route 9 East into Zion National Park

For additional directions to the park, please visit our maps page.

Zion National Park Visitor Centers

Once you arrive at the park, you can stop at one of the two visitor centers to obtain all of your necessary permits, learn about park activities, receive restaurant recommendations and view transportation schedules. The Zion Canyon Visitor Center is located at the south entrance of the park near Springdale.

The Kolob Canyon Visitor Center is located off of Interstate 15 at the west entrance of the park.

Both Visitor Centers are open from 8AM to 5PM during the spring and summer, and from 8AM to 4PM during the fall and winter. The centers are closed on December 25th.

If you would like to talk to someone that can help you plan the best way to get to Zion, we’d love to help. Please contact our concierge or give us a call at 1-435-261-4260.