6 Facts About Zion First-Time Visitors Might Be Surprised to Learn

Oct 14, 2023 | RootsRated | 0 comments


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Planning your first stay in Zion National Park rentals? There’s a lot to learn about this unique national park!

While you could visit Zion without knowing a lot about its history or even everything that it has to offer, knowing a little can help you to better enjoy your visit. 

If you’re planning a stay in Watchman Villas soon, keep reading. We’re bringing you seven facts that first-time guests might not know about Zion National Park.

1. Zion Has Gone By a Few Different Names

The word “Zion” has origins in the Hebrew Bible and is often associated with a heavenly city or utopia. For the Native Americans, the park’s towering cliffs and expansive vistas held a similar sense of wonder and reverence. The name captures the spiritual connection that humans have felt with this land for centuries, long before it was officially designated a national park in 1919.

But while the name may be appropriate, it wasn’t the park’s first. Before it became a national park, Zion was called Mukuntuweap National Monument.

2. The Park Has Two Separate Sections

Many first-time visitors to Zion primarily explore the Lower Canyon. They might venture into the Upper Canyon, too for a hike or some sightseeing. But few first-time visitors get the chance to explore Kolob Canyons.

This lesser-known section of the park isn’t connected to Zion Canyon by any roads, but it’s still a part of the national park. To get there, you’ll drive around 45 minutes from our Zion National Park rentals. But if you’re up for the drive, you’ll be treated to some incredible views and few crowds in this little-known section of the park.

3. The Desert is Full of Life

Zion National Park is part red rock desert. But don’t mistake that fact for meaning that the park isn’t full of life. There are dozens of species of animals that call Zion home. In fact, the park is home to 291 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and amphibians, 8 species of fish, and 78 species of mammals. You’ll likely see only a small portion of those, though.

4. People Have Passed Through Zion for Tens of Thousands of Years

Long before it became a national park, Zion’s landscapes were shaped by millions of years of geological processes. But even before that, the area had a rich history of human habitation. 

Native American tribes such as the Paiute, Southern Paiute, and Ute have called this land home for thousands of years. In fact, researchers believe that Native Americans were in the area at least as early as 6,000 B.C. Their deep connection to the region is evidenced by the petroglyphs and artifacts found throughout the park, serving as a reminder of the enduring relationship between people and the land.

5. Zion Was a Part of the Comeback of an Extinct Species

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the California Condor nearly went extinct. Once numbering in the thousands across the Southwest, the species dwindled to just 22 individuals in the wild in the late 1980s.

Those remaining birds were captured, and a breeding program was started. The program was a success, and today, more than 300 California Condors now live in their original habitat, including Zion National Park. 

A pair of California Condors return to the park each year to make a nest and lay eggs. In 2019, the 1,000th chick hatched since the recovery program began in the early 1990s hatched in the park. If you want a chance to see a Condor during your stay in luxury resorts near Zion National Park, head to the base of Angels Landing, or watch for them swooping above the canyon.

6. There’s a Hidden Subway Tunnel in the Park

Many guests of the best vacation rentals Zion has to offer explore the park’s more well-known trails and viewpoints. This includes popular options like Angels Landing and The Narrows. But there’s a hidden gem within Zion National Park known as “The Subway.” 

The Subway isn’t a man-made tunnel. Instead, this unique feature is a tubular slot canyon that has been carved by the Virgin River. It gets its name from its curved walls resembling a subway tunnel. 

Accessing The Subway requires a permit and a challenging hike that involves boulder hopping, swimming, and wading through chilly waters. As far as hiking in Utah goes, the effort is well worth it, as those who make the journey are rewarded with an otherworldly experience surrounded by the canyon’s enchanting formations. But this is a trail that only experienced hikers and canyoneers should take on. 

Preparing For Your Stay in Zion National Park Rentals

If you’re planning a stay in Zion National Park rentals, brushing up on your knowledge of the park can help you to better understand what makes it so unique.

Ready to start planning your next stay at Watchman Villas? As one of the best luxury resorts near Zion National Park, we offer a variety of luxurious private villas that make the perfect basecamp for your adventure. Book today to start planning your own incredible visit to Zion National Park.

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