6 Things You Didn’t Know About Zion National Park
One of the most tried and true vacation tips involves seeking out the best-kept secrets of a place, the spots that seem to be known by the locals but somehow not by the mainstream tourist crowd. Doing this usually involves doing some research and learning a bit more about your destination location than you otherwise would have. In doing so, you tend to learn some really interesting things. Zion National Park is certainly no exception. There are things about Zion that would surprise you; places inside the Park that no one told you about, fascinating lesser-known historical facts, and more. Here are 6 Zion facts that you may not know.
Kolob Arch is in Zion
Did you know that the second largest freestanding arch in the entire world is found in Zion National Park? Kolob Arch is 287 feet long and would be the world’s largest if weren’t for Landscape Arch reaching 290 feet which is found in Arches National Park. The majority of tourists tend to spend most of their time (or all of it entirely) in Zion’s main canyon experiencing the Park’s “main attractions” such as Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, Observation Point, Emerald Pools, etc. The next time you come, spend some time outside the main canyon. You’ll avoid large crowds and be richly rewarded with incredible sights.
Zion protects many archeological sites
There are many Zion facts that get overlooked, and one of them certainly is that Zion protects many archeological sites. Indigenous people inhabited the Zion area for over 10,000 years and evidence is scattered all throughout the Park. Ancient markings and drawings on the rock, very old granaries, carved pathways, and more make up some incredible historical sights.
There is a subway in Zion
But it’s not what you think. The circular, cavernous stretch of land has been dubbed The Subway because it looks very similar to a traditional modern subway system, but it’s all natural…and doesn’t have any public transportation running through. Swimming, rappelling, and route finding are all required to hike the Subway. It’s an incredible natural wonder and should be on any outdoor-enthusiasts bucket list.
Mukuntuweap National Monument: Zion’s original name
Back in 1909 when President Taft first designated the area we now know as Zion National Park, he named it Mukuntuweap National Monument which means “straight arrow” (or “straight canyon”) in Paiute. But only ten years later, the National Parks Service decided to rename the area Zion, opting for a shorter, more pronounceable moniker. The name with Utah origins had its disapprovers, but the name has remained unchanged ever since.
The Virgin River is literally reforming Zion all the time
The Virgin River - especially and primarily during flash floods - moves and redeposits over a million tons of sediment each year. As you can imagine, this alters the landscape, significantly and noticeably in some cases. Because of the sheer immensity of Zion National Park, you may not notice right away, but the deepening and widening of the canyon is happening constantly due the Virgin River and its tributaries.
Angel’s Landing is considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world
For many of us who have hiked Angel’s Landing multiple times, this might surprise us. The Park does a good job of making safe some of the exposed areas by constructing proper steps, paving some of the trail, and installing guard rails. But there are certainly large sections of this hike that are considered dangerous, particularly to careless tourists. It has one of the most incredibly visual payoffs on Earth, but make sure to be aware at all times when hiking Angel’s Landing, for your safety and for the safety of others.