Zion National Park History

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Zion National Park History

Zion National Park, located in Utah, is the state’s oldest and most visited national park, with an average of 4.5 million visitors per year. The park’s history as a preserved natural environment dates back to 1909, with its status as a National Monument predating the National Parks Service. Zion National Park was officially established on November 19, 1919, and includes lands originally protected by Mukuntuweap National Monument and Zion National Monument.

Ancient Inhabitants

The park’s human history can be traced back approximately 7,000 years when nomadic Indian groups first frequented the Mukuntuweap/Zion region. As people adopted more sedentary lifestyles, both the Virgin Branch Puebloan and Fremont Indian groups settled in this area. The Southern Paiute called this place Mukuntuweap, which means “straight canyon”.

Mormon Pioneers

Zion National Park History

The first European American settlers, Mormon pioneers, arrived in the area in the late 1800s and named the area Zion, which is ancient Hebrew for “sanctuary” or “refuge”.

Geology and Landscape

The park’s geology is a significant aspect of its history. The red and white sandstone cliffs of southwestern Utah tower hundreds of feet above the Virgin River, which meanders through their network of narrow canyons. The heart of Zion National Park is a secluded canyon that lies amidst this striking landscape.

Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel

The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel is a significant infrastructure project in the park’s history. The 25-mile road was a joint effort between the National Park Service, the state of Utah, and the Bureau of Public Roads. The road was designed to go where no road had gone before, up Pine Creek Canyon, through the Navajo sandstone cliffs to the eastern plateau, then across slickrock country. The project began in 1909 and was completed in 1930, providing direct access for travel between Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Zion National Parks.

Park Visitation and Management

Currently, Zion National Park attracts 4,623,238 visitors per year and includes 146,597 acres of land. The park’s governing body is the National Park Service, and it offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, and sightseeing.

Key Facts about Zion National Park History

Fact Details
Establishment Zion National Park was officially established on November 19, 1919.
Original Protection The park includes lands originally protected by Mukuntuweap National Monument and Zion National Monument.
Ancient Inhabitants The park’s human history can be traced back approximately 7,000 years when nomadic Indian groups first frequented the area.
Mormon Pioneers The first European American settlers, Mormon pioneers, arrived in the area in the late 1800s.
Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway The 25-mile Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel was a significant infrastructure project completed in 1930.
Current Visitation Zion National Park attracts 4,623,238 visitors per year and includes 146,597 acres of land.
Governing Body The park’s governing body is the National Park Service.

Conclusion

Zion National Park’s history is rich in natural and cultural significance. From its ancient Indian groups to European American settlers, the park has been a significant location for various peoples throughout history. The park’s unique geology and infrastructure projects, such as the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel, add to its historical value and make it a popular destination for visitors today.

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