Zion National Park is a national park located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (593 km2) park is Zion Canyon, 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park's unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park's four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Common plant species include cottonwood, Cactus, Datura, Juniper, Pine, Boxelder, Sagebrush, yucca , and various willows. Notable megafauna include mountain lions, mule deer and Golden Eagles, along with reintroduced California Condors and Bighorn Sheep.
Driving through the east side of Zion to U.S. Route 89 allows access to Bryce Canyon National Park in the north or to the north rim of the Grand Canyon in the south. Due to the narrowness of the Zion–Mount Carmel Tunnel, RVs and buses must obtain a special pass and can only drive through the tunnel during limited hours
The more primitive sections of Zion include the Kolob Terrace and the Kolob Canyons. The Grotto in Zion Canyon, the Visitor Center and the viewpoint at the end of Kolob Canyons Road have the only designated picnic sites.
Seven popular trails with round-trip times of half an hour (Weeping Rock) to 4 hours (Angels Landing) are found in Zion Canyon. Two popular trails, Taylor Creek (4 hours round trip) and Kolob Arch (8 hours round trip), are in the Kolob Canyons section of the park, near Cedar City.
Hiking up into The Narrows from the Temple of Sinawava is popular in summer. Orderville Canyon, a narrower slot canyon, is also popular. Backpacking down The Narrows from the top takes 12 hours. Other often-used backcountry trails include the West Rim and LaVerkin Creek.
Zion is a center for rock climbing, with short walls like Touchstone, Moonlight Buttress, Spaceshot and Prodigal Son being very popular.
Lodging in the park is available at Zion Lodge, located halfway through Zion Canyon. Zion Lodge is open year-round and has motel units and cabins, as well as a restaurant, café, and gift shop, but rooms fill up fast. Three campgrounds are available: South and Watchman at the far southern side of the park, and a primitive site at Lava Point in the middle of the park off Kolob Terrace Road. Watchman is the only campground in the park that takes reservations. Lava Point has only primitive facilities and is usually open from June to October. Overnight camping in the backcountry requires permits.
Guided horseback riding trips, nature walks, and evening programs are available from late March to early November. The Junior Ranger Program for ages 6 to 12 is active from Memorial Day to Labor Day at the Zion Nature Center.
Rangers at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and the smaller Kolob Canyons Visitor Center can help visitors plan their stay. A bookstore attached to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, run by the Zion Natural History Association, offers books, maps, and souvenirs for sale, with proceeds benefiting the park.
Adjacent to the park on the south is the town of Springdale, Utah, which offers services such as lodging, food, and entertainment. Zion Canyon IMAX in Springdale offers many interesting documentaries about the natural history of Zion Canyon and the American Southwest. Lodging, food and entertainment are also offered on the east side of the park along the Zion–Mount Carmel Highway and in Mount Carmel Junction.