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History of Zion National Park

Most spectacular scenery in America

Zion National Park is an iconic destination in the southwestern United States that has been drawing visitors for over a century. Located in the heart of Utah, Zion encompasses 229 square miles of breathtaking canyon land and stunning natural beauty. The park contains some of the most spectacular scenery in America, with soaring sandstone cliffs, deep canyons, lush forests, and an incredible variety of wildlife.

Native American History

The earliest inhabitants of Zion National Park were the Southern Paiute and Ute tribes. They resided in the area for thousands of years, hunting game and gathering food. The canyon walls provided them with shelter from the elements while they lived off the land. In 1847, the first Mormon settlers arrived in the area and began to establish farms and ranches. With their arrival, tensions between the Native Americans and the settlers began to rise. This eventually led to a series of conflicts between them that lasted until 1870 when an agreement was reached that allowed both sides to coexist in peace.
Zion Ponderosa

Mormon History

In the mid-1800s, a man named Nephi Johnson and a Paiute guide ventured into the main canyon to see if it could be farmed successfully. When Johnson returned with good news, early Mormons started a settlement in what would become Springdale. This was a challenging task, but they persevered. Isaac Behunin, one of the settlers, named the area Zion, a word with deep meaning in the Mormon faith. It represents a spiritual sanctuary and an eventual utopia for the LDS people. The pioneers held the area in high regard, and it's easy to understand why when you see the breathtaking beauty of Zion Canyon.

Unfortunately, as often happened in history, the arrival of white settlers led to the decline of the Native American population through disease and displacement. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the area saw an influx of settlers, explorers, railroaders, ranchers, and miners. John Wesley Powell, a famous explorer, gave the area an alternate name, Mukuntuweap, which means "straight canyon" in the Paiute language. By the turn of the century, photographers and artists were captivated by the sights of Zion and started to create iconic images. Some of these works were even showcased at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, including paintings by renowned artist Frederick S. Dellenbaugh.

Establishing the Park

In 1909, President William Taft declared the area of Mukuntuweap as federally protected and named it Mukuntuweap National Monument. This decision did not sit well with the residents of Utah, who had originally chosen a different name for the area. After nearly a decade of dissatisfaction, Horace Albright, the assistant director of the National Park Service, changed the name to Zion National Monument in 1918. However, this decision was made while the acting director, Stephen Mather, was battling severe depression. Just a year later, the name was changed again, this time to Zion National Park. President Roosevelt created a second Zion National Monument on January 22, 1937. This monument protected a vast area of more than 36,000 acres. Today, this area is known as Kolob Canyons. In 1956, it was joined with Zion National Park, becoming a part of its stunning landscape. Since then, Zion National Park has remained its official name. In 1956, the park expanded to include the Kolob section, which was previously its own national monument.
Zion Ponderosa

Zion National Park Today

Today, Zion National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. It's a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with many things to do, including world-class climbing and hiking opportunities. With its incredible landscapes, unique geology, and rich history, it's no wonder that Zion has become such a beloved destination. Whether you're looking for a relaxing family vacation or an epic adventure, Zion National Park has something for everyone.

Zion is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, bighorn sheep, and more than 250 species of birds. It is even possible to spot mountain lions in the park! You may also have the chance to see endangered species such as the California Condor. With its unrivaled natural beauty and abundant wildlife, Zion National Park is one of the most incredible places to visit in America.

Zion National Park has been captivating visitors for over a hundred years. Its powerful landscape, rich history, and abundant wildlife are just a few of the reasons why it remains an iconic destination. Whether you're looking for adventure or just a peaceful escape, Zion National Park is the perfect place to explore and create lasting memories.

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