July 21, 2023

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Zion National Park

Besides our beautiful grounds and unique rooms, one of the best reasons to plan a visit to Cliffrose Lodge is the chance to stay just a short distance from the entrance to Zion National Park. 

Millions of people make their way to Zion from countries around the world and states across the country every year. Many only scratch the surface of this unique park during their visit.

If you’re planning a stay at one of the best hotels Zion has to offer this year, keep reading. We’re bringing your seven things you didn’t know about the park.

1. Zion Has Been Inhabited 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.

2. The Name Bears Spiritual Significance; But Wasn’t the Park’s First

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.

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

Many Cliffrose Lodge guests explore Zion’s more well-known trails and viewpoints. But there’s a hidden gem within Zion National Park known as “The Subway.” 

It 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. 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.

4. One of the Nation’s Most Unique Hikes is Located in Zion

If you don’t have a lot of hiking or canyoneering experience, there’s another trail in Zion that offers a similar experience to The Subway but can be more accessible depending on which way you hike it.

One of the most iconic hikes in Zion National Park—and perhaps the country— is The Narrows. This trail follows the Virgin River as it carves its path through Zion Canyon. As you hike through the cool water, you’ll have towering cliff wales high above you, and at times just 20 to 30 feet apart on either side.

Hikers don waterproof gear and navigate the river’s currents as they marvel at the sheer beauty of the canyon’s walls. The experience is both exhilarating and humbling, as it puts you directly in touch with the forces of nature that have shaped this landscape over millions of years. 

A full hike of The Narrows means hiking more than 16 miles and staying overnight on the trail. But you can also access the trail from the end of Riverside Walk, another trail in the park. From there, visitors can hike just a short distance upstream to experience the trail without having to commit to a longer and more difficult hike.

5. There’s a Lot of Life in the Desert

​​Zion National Park isn’t just a geological wonderland; it’s also home to a surprising variety of plant and animal species. Despite the seemingly harsh desert environment, the park has a variety of ecosystems that provide habitat for many different types of creatures. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, mule deer, and even the elusive mountain lion while exploring the trails.

6. The Park Was the Site of an Incredible Comeback

Not only is Zion National Park home to a variety of wildlife, but it was also the site of an incredible comeback for one species. 

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the California Condor nearly went extinct. The species dwindled to just 22 individuals. Those remaining birds were captured, and a breeding program was started. The program was a success, and today, more than 300 California Condor 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.

7. Zion Continues to Change

Zion National Park is a living testament to the ever-changing nature of our planet. Over millions of years, erosion and geological processes have shaped the park’s stunning features, and these processes continue to this day. 

As the climate changes, the park’s ecosystems are also evolving. Warmer temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns are affecting the distribution of plant and animal species, highlighting the importance of ongoing conservation efforts to preserve the park’s biodiversity.

Cliffrose Lodge is dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the landscapes that surround our Springdale resort. During your stay, be sure to take a stroll through our beautiful grounds, which were planted in 1988 by the resort’s founder.

Ready to plan your next visit to Cliffrose? Book your stay today!

Skip to content