Visitors to Zion National Park find a maze of paths of ancient Native Americans through sandstone cliffs colored beige, pink and red that soar high above the desert sky.
Zion National Park is home to the archeological sites where mammoth and giant sloth once roamed. Today, Zion Park’s diverse canyon ecosystem is home to diverse array of plants and animals including mule deer, wild turkey and bighorn sheep. It is said that people have inhabited the canyons and plateaus of Zion National Park for over 10,000 years. The Anasazi people were replaced by the Paiute nation approximately 800 years ago.
More recent times have seen settlement by Mormon pioneers in the late 1800’s. The remnants of their time here can be found throughout the park including native granaries and impossibly hewn highways throughout the canyons.
Zion National Park Lodging
Visitors to Zion National Park can enjoy the exquisite desert vistas at the Zion Lodge which was built in 1909 and offers incredible views of the nearby sandstone cliffs. The lodge has two restaurants, the Red Rock Grill and the Castel Dome Café. The lodge was built in a narrow canyon to better harmonize with the landscape and scale of the surroundings and includes a collection of stand-alone cabins built nearby.
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The Grand Loop: Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway
With the designation of Zion as a national park, the park service created a “Grand Loop” reminiscent of the 10-day trek operated by traveling vendors in the 1800s. With new loop routes, the park service hoped to create a series of national parks in southern Utah linked to the Grand Canyon and the rest of the nation.
The 25-mile road was a joint effort, between the National Park Service, the state of Utah, and the Bureau of Public Roads. Over a three-year period, this improbable route was a logistical and engineering challenge. In 1930, the work was completed and the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel was officially dedicated and opened to the public. The once dreamed-of tour of Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon National Parks was now a reality.
Windows in the 1.1 mile sandstone tunnel provide views of Zion Canyon’s spectacular beauty including native masonry, wooden bridges and rock walls are visible along the road, making this parkway one of the most beautiful and scenic desert roadways in the entire country.
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