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ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH: AN A TO Z GUIDE
Even adjectives starting with every letter of the alphabet can't do justice to describing Zion National Park. That list could easily begin with awesome, in that Zion National Park is certainly awe-inspiring. With adjectives ranging from beautiful to mesmerizing to zingy, Zion National Park will definitely have visitors heading for their dictionaries.
Zion's unique landscape evidently began forming more than 225 million years ago and it's still being created thanks to natural elements like water, wind, sun, rain, lightning, gravity, and much more. At more than 230 square miles and with lots of neck-craning elevation changes, there's a lot of land to explore in Zion National Park. Famed Zion Canyon alone is more than 10 miles long and a half-mile deep in places. However, there's much more to explore throughout this national park.
Open year-round, most visitors enter Zion National Park on scenic Utah State Route 9 through the South Entrance and Zion Canyon Visitor Center is the first must-stop. Located along the typically rushing Virgin River and in the shadow of the towering Watchman rock outcropping to the south, lots of outdoor and indoor exhibits and park rangers help visitors plan their visits here. The Visitor Center also features one of many Zion Canyon Shuttle System stops, which is mandatory from April 1st to October 30th, campgrounds, and the Zion Nature Center.
Just up the road, the Zion Human History Museum is another must-stop before proceeding to the great outdoors and Mother Nature's own museum. There's a 22-minute orientation film highlighting the canyon's history, as well as rotating art exhibits featuring regional artists, a bookstore, and picture-perfect views of Bridge Mountain and the Towers of the Virgin just outside.
About a half-mile up the road, Zion Canyon Scenic Drive continues 6.2 stunning miles to the north, while Zion-Mount Carmel Highway heads east. The Zion-Mount Carmel switchback road leads to a historic tunnel and eventually the pretty road to Bryce Canyon National Park (a great day-trip while visiting Zion National Park).
There are several stunning pulloffs off the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive including Canyon Junction, Court of the Patriarchs, Zion Lodge (and it's amazing Lodge accommodations and dining from the folks at Xanterra Parks & Resorts®, a highly-respected hospitality company), The Grotto, Big Bend, and, finally, Temple of Sinawava. All of these pull-offs offer hiking trails, rushing rivers and emerald pools, and all of the awe-inspiring nature that makes Zion National Park one of America's most majestic icons.