Sorting Fact From Fiction in Zion National Park

Apr 30, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

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Zion National Park welcomes more than 4.5 million visitors each year. Most of those visitors make their way through the popular South Entrance. For most of the year, they hop aboard the Zion Canyon Shuttle for a ride through the Lower Canyon. Many choose to hike popular trails like Riverside Walk, Pa’rus Trail, or the Emerald Pools Trail. Those up for a challenge try their luck at getting a permit to hike Angels Landing. Despite so many guests enjoying the park’s famous attractions and stunning views, many first-time visitors to our Zion cabin rentals don’t fully understand what makes this park so unique. In fact, there are even a few common myths about the park.

In this article, we’ll sort fact from fiction as we take a look at some little-known facts and common myths about the park. If you’re planning a stay in the Zion cabin rentals at Watchman Villas, keep reading to learn what you need to know.

Fact or Fiction: Zion is the 2nd oldest national park in Utah

Fiction: Zion became a national park in 1919. The park was formed just a few short years after the National Park Service was created. But it was far from the first national park in the country. That honor belongs to Yellowstone National Park, which was created in 1872. While it might not have been the first national park in the country, it was the first in Utah.

Often called the Mighty 5, Utah is home to 5 national parks in total. Besides Zion, there’s also nearby Bryce Canyon, as well as Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands just a few hours away. Of them, Zion is the oldest national park in the state.

After Zion, Bryce Canyon is the next oldest in the state. It became a national park in 1928. After that, there was a lengthy period of time when no national parks were added to Utah. Canyonlands broke the hiatus when it became a national park in 1964. A short time later in 1971, both Capitol Reef and Arches became national parks.

Fact or Fiction: Zion Isn’t the Park’s Original Name

Fact: It’s hard to imagine this beautiful national park going by any other name. But it’s a fact that Zion National Park wasn’t originally called that. And “national park” wasn’t even a part of the name at first.

When President Woodrow Wilson designated the property as a national monument in 1909, it was called Mukuntuweap It would stay Mukuntuweap National Monument for almost ten years. Then, in 1918, the name was changed to Zion, but it remained a national monument. Finally, a year later, it became a national park. Just last year, Zion celebrated 100 years since that designation was made official.

Fact or Fiction: Mormons Settlers Were the First to Live Along the Virgin River

Fiction: While Mormon settlers did come to the area in the mid-1800s, they were far from the first to inhabit what is now Zion National Park. In fact, humans have passed through and settled in Zion for more than 10,000 miles. Native American tribes, including Ancestral Puebloan and Fremont cultures, hunted, gathered, and even settled in the region at various points throughout history.

Archeologists have found artifacts and indicators of early Native American settlements throughout the park. Most recently, the construction of the shuttle bus facility near the Visitors Center was halted when an Ancestral Puebloan food storage location was discovered.

Fact or Fiction: The Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel is Over a Mile Long

Fact: Driving through the dark, narrow tunnel, it can be tough to figure out exactly how far you’ve traveled. But believe it or not, the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel is more than a mile long.

Construction on the historic tunnel began in the late 1920s. It was completed in 1930 and officially dedicated on July 4, 1930. At the time, it was the longest tunnel of its kind in the country. It opened up access for travelers to get from Bryce Canyon to Zion to the Grand Canyon faster than ever before. 

In total, the tunnel stretches 1.1 miles in length. Because of its narrow width and low clearance, large vehicles can only travel through the tunnel during certain hours of the day. Traffic in the opposite direction is closed to allow these larger vehicles to pass. While you can ride your bike on the road through the canyon, you can’t ride through the tunnel because of the danger. The National Park Service recommends hitchhiking with trucks passing through the tunnel to get to the other side.

Fact or Fiction: Angels Landing is the Highest Point in the Park

Fiction: Anyone who has made the trek to the top of Angels Landing can tell you that from there, you can see out over the entire park. But while it’s certainly high—the elevation is 5,790 feet at the top—it isn’t the highest point in the park.

You’ll find the highest point of elevation in the Kolob Canyon section of the park. Horse Ranch Mountain is 8,726 feet high at the summit.

Planning Your Stay in Our Zion Cabin Rentals

You don’t need to be an expert on the park to enjoy a visit to Zion. The park’s shuttle system and the layout of the Lower Canyon make exploring the park’s most popular landmarks a breeze, even for first-time guests.

But while you don’t need to be a pro to plan a visit, there is one pro tip that you can follow that will have a big impact on your stay. Booking our ZIon cabin rentals means staying in the heart of Springdale, just a short walk or ride on the Springdale Shuttle away from the entrance to the park. This means that you can easily get to and from our Springdale villas throughout the day. Beat the crowds on busy days by getting to the park early. Then, you can easily head back to your vacation rental at Watchman Villas for a break in the afternoon—no need to fight for parking, sit in traffic, or even move your vehicle!

Ready to start planning your next visit to Zion National Park? Book your stay in our Zion cabin rentals today!

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