Angels Langing

WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY     (Washington County, Utah)

ZION NATIONAL PARK

Washington County, Utah

Zion National Park
Springdale, UT 84767-1099
(435)772-3256
http://www.nps.gov/zion


LOCATION

The west entrance to the main part of Zion National Park is reached from I-15 by taking Exit 27 (if coming from the north) and Highways 17 and 9 or by taking Exit 16 (if coming from the south) and following Highway 9.
The east entrance to the main part of the park is reached by taking Highway 9 west from Mount Carmel.
The Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park is reached off of Exit 40 of I-15. There is a secondary visitor center just east of the freeway with a paved road leading from there back into the canyons.

Directions to Zion National Park

Map of Zion National Park

Distances in miles from the Zion National Park visitor center:

        2     Springdale
      13     East Entrance
      25     Mt Carmel Jct
      20     La Verkin
      40     Lava Point
      40     Kanab
      42     St George
      45     Kolob Canyons
      60     Cedar City
      86     Bryce Canyon
    120     North Rim Grand Canyon
    120     Page
    158     Las Vegas
    250     South Rim Grand Canyon


HISTORY

The area now known as Zion National Park was inhabited by the Anasazi from at least 2,000 years ago. The Paiutes inhabited the area starting about 800 years ago. Nephi Johnson, a young Mormon missionary working among the Virgin River Indians, discovered Zion Canyon in September of 1858. And Mormons settled the area shortly after that.

Early settlers called the canyon Zion because of the big pillars. Zion is a Hebrew word referring to a place of safety or refuge. The settlers who were sent down by Brigham Young to raise cotton, also knew how to raise tobacco. When Young came down to visit and saw that, he was furious and said, "This is not Zion". Then for a while the place was known as Not Zion. Eventually, a Methodist minister, photographer, and promoter reestablished the name Zion. Kolob, in Mormon theology, is a heavenly place close to God.

The new Antiquities Act of 1906 was used by President William Howard Taft on July 31, 1909 to designate 16,000 acres as the Mukuntuweap National Monument (Proclamation #877; 36 Stat. 2498). The Act was used again on March 18, 1918 by President Woodrow Wilson to expand the Monument to 76,800 acres and redesignate it Zion National Monument (Proclamation #1435; 40 Stat. 1760). Senator Reed Smoot introduced a bill to establish Zion National Park on May 20, 1919. The bill was passed by Congress, and was signed by the President on November 19, 1919, making Zion National Park the first national park in Utah and one of the first in the United States. A dedication ceremony for the park took place on September 15, 1920. Among those speaking at the dedication were Senator Reed Smoot and Church President Heber J. Grant (representing Governor Bamberger at the event).

In March of 1923, a federal appropriation of $133,000 for Zion National Park was allocated for survey and specifications of park roads. The appropriation included $40,000 for the construction of a bridge on public land outside the park boundary, crossing the Virgin River near Springdale, Utah. The bridge was to be used to permit a shortcut into Arizona (later known as the Rockville shortcut or Rockville cutoff) with work undertaken during the winter of 1923-1924.

President Warren G. Harding and his entourage visited Zion National Park on June 27, 1923. He was the first President to visit southern Utah and this park.

On January 22, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated 49,150 acres in the Kolob area as the Zion National Monument (name reused) (Proclamation #2221; 50 Stat. 1809). It was administered by the Superintendent of Brianhead National Monument until being incorporated into Zion National Park by Congress on July 11, 1956.

The original dirt road into Zion National Park took off from Hurricane and went up toward Short Creek (now Hildale and Colorado City) before cutting back through Grafton.

The new road through the park, including the Zion Tunnel, was built between 1927 and 1930. It was dedicated July 4, 1930. All of the 48 state governors, except for New York's, were at a conference in Salt Lake City and came down for the dedication.

The road up into the Kolob section of the park, was started in 1956, but took almost a decade to be completed.


STATISTICS

Zion National Park Visitors

    1920 - 3,692
    1930 - 55,297
    1940 - 165,029
    1950 - 320,994
    1960 - 575,814
    1970 - 903,340
    1980 - 1,233,776
    1990 - 2,342,614
    1992 - 2,687,848
    1993 - 2,371,364
    1994 - 2,286,651
    1995 - 2,442,062
    1996 - 2,519,901
    1997 - 2,467,234
    1998 - 2,387,714
    1999 - 2,471,564
    2000 - 2,454,248
    2001 - 2,249,389
    2002 - 2,614,735
    2003 - 2,480,690
    2004 - 2,699,241
    2005 -
    2006 -
    2007 -
    2008 -


HISTORIC SITES

Zion National Park Homes

West Rim Trail


PHOTOS

WCHS photos:
WCHS-00985     Photo of Fred W. Heaton and his Sunday School class in the narrows of the east fork of the Virgin River
WCHS-00986     Photo of men working on the road through Zion National Park
WCHS-01121     Photo of work on the Zion tunnel
WCHS-01122     Photo of work on the Zion tunnel
WCHS-01172     Zion National Park admission ticket from September 1, 1956
WCHS-01313     Photo of President Harding and his entourage on horseback in Zion National Park
WCHS-02643     Photo of an early tunnel in Zion National Park

Other photos on the web:
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion National Park People
Zion National Park People
Zion National Park People
Zion Sawmill
Jim Harlan's Zion Event Photos Collection


REFERENCES

Wikipedia article on Zion National Park

Wikipedia article on the Geology of the Zion and Kolob canyons area

A history of Zion National Park

A history of Zion National Park

Park History: Zion National Park

Washington County Chapter, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, " Under Dixie Sun".
1950 with 1978 Supplement.
Pages 346-347.

"A History of Cable Mountain"
Book by Ted Deffendol
Cedar City: Southern Utah University Library Oral History Program, 1971

"A History of Southern Utah and Its National Parks"
Book by Angus M Woodbury
Utah State Historical Society, 1950

"Zion Album: A Nostalgic History of Zion Canyon"
Book by J. L. Crawford
Springdale UT: Zion Natural History Association, 1986
ISBN: 0-915630-21-4
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 85-51614

"Zion National Park: Towers of Stone"
Book by J. L. Crawford
Springdale UT: Zion Natural History Association, 1988
ISBN: 0-917859-26-X
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 85-51614

"An Abbreviated History of Zion National Park"
Unpublished manuscript by J. L. Crawford