Fire Restrictions In Effect Starting June 20th in Zion National Park
Effective June 20th Watchman Campground and South Campground in Zion National Park are closed to campfires due to the abundance of highly flammable cheat grass. Propane and gas stoves are permitted.
Fireworks are always prohibited in Zion National Park.
Ranger Minutes are videocasts of information about the park's resources and tips to help you plan your trip to the park. The video should begin playing automatically. If you experience a lot of buffering, try pausing the video and waiting for it to load before viewing.
Hi, I’m Ranger Kenny, here with you on the slickrock of Zion National Park. Even on a planet where life seemingly thrives in all environments, few creatures dare to call this alien terrain home. But in this most bizarre setting lurks an equally bizarre creature. Triops Longicaudatus, also known as the tadpole shrimp, depends on the temporary waters of desert potholes to live out its unique life cycle.
While these potholes provide a crucial water source for many creatures in the desert, it is their impermanence that matters most to the tadpole shrimp. Their life begins as a tiny egg, roughly the size of a sand grain, laid in the bottom of a pool shortly before it dries out. Once the water evaporates, the egg goes into a period of diapause, a phase of dormancy until favorable conditions return.
Dormant eggs are incredibly hardy. They may remain viable for decades waiting for water to return, withstanding temperatures up to 208 degrees (f) and well below freezing with no ill effect. Once the pool dries out, the eggs lie in wait. Rain alone will not cause hatching, but if an adequate amount of water fills the pool – enough to last at least a few days - the egg springs to life, and out pops a tiny triops.
The triops develops quickly, going from egg to adult in less than 6 days. It may live for 20 to 90 days, if its home pool lasts that long. Tadpole shrimp eat just about any plant or animal they can find – including each other.
While tiny bits of organic debris compose the bulk of triops’ diet, these creatures also play a critical part in pest control by feeding on mosquito eggs and larvae that inhabit the same ephemeral pools.
The extraordinary adaptations of triops longicaudatus, from its uniquely resilient eggs to its indiscriminate appetite, have allowed it to thrive since the time of the dinosaurs. The basic design of these creatures has changed little in more than 70 million years, making it a living fossil. The longevity of such a humble creature, thriving through mass extinctions and drastic changes in climate, speak to the versatility of its design. It’s short life in a fleeting environment make it one of many treats in Zion reserved for those with an eye for the little details.
Welcome to Zion National Park, my name is Jonathan. Zion is a popular National Park where visitors come to immerse themselves within the grandeur of the canyon’s cliffs, and to challenge themselves with one of our many scenic and adventurous hikes. One of our more popular hikes visitors come to enjoy is the unique Narrows, a hike in a canyon that in places is only 20-30 feet wide, and 2000 feet deep.
However, unlike most hikes, taking on the Narrows means actually traveling upstream through the Virgin River on uneven, slippery, and rocky river boulders. Due to the risks of a hike like this, proper preparation is imperative, both for your safety and your enjoyment. Every hiker in The Narrows should have closed toed shoes, even just your regular hiking boots, and a walking stick. Although weather might be over 100 degrees the day of your hike, this narrow section of the canyon can stay considerably cooler, making non-cotton clothing, like polypropylene or wool, more ideal for its insulating benefits even while wet.
When you are planning your trip into The Narrows, you should also be aware of the flash flood potential. Afternoon thundershowers are possible throughout the year and a potential hazard to those hiking in slot canyons like The Narrows. During these events the river can quickly turn into a torrent of powerful rushing water, doubling and tripling in volume. Stop by the visitor center to speak with a ranger to get the most up to date conditions and the flash flood potential. Remember, even when you are prepared and conditions seem optimal, things can change quickly. Being aware of any changes in water clarity and increased river flow can go a long way in protecting your life. Being prepared and aware will help ensure a hike that will undoubtedly create positive memories that will last a lifetime. But please, ensure this opportunity for others by remembering to use the restroom before starting of your trip and to plan on packing out all your trash, including even the tiniest of crumbs. These simple guidelines will ensure the enjoyment of these special places for not only you, but generations to come.
Hello, my name is Rendall Seely. On behalf of all the interpretive staff of Zion National Park I want to welcome you to the Kolob Canyons. Here in the northwest corner of the park, narrow parallel canyons are cut into the western edge of the Colorado Plateau forming majestic peaks and 2000 foot cliff walls. Horse Ranch Mountain, the highest point in Zion, guards the northern boundary of the park and rises over 3000 feet above the canyon floor. The Kolob Arch, located deep in the backcountry of Kolob, is one of the world’s largest natural arches. Whether you come to view the panoramic landscape from our scenic drive, or hike into one of our majestic canyons, or begin a multiday adventure into the Zion backcountry, Kolob Canyons has something special for everyone to experience.
The Kolob Canyons Visitor Center is located at exit 40 on Interstate 15, 40 miles north of the Zion Canyon and 17 miles south of Cedar City. A five-mile scenic drive allows visitors to view the Kolob Canyons and gain access to various trailheads and scenic pullouts. All visitors are required to stop and show their park pass or pay an entrance fee. The visitor center also has a bookstore operated by the Zion Natural History Association.
The canyons and backcountry of Kolob are designated as wilderness areas and are protected for their pristine and primitive environments. Hiking in Kolob Canyons allows visitors the opportunity for solitude and tranquility in a scenic desert setting. In order to maintain the wilderness character and natural conditions of the area, please be aware that groups exceeding twelve in number are only allowed to hike on the Timber Creek Overlook Trail. Also know that pets are not allowed on any trail in the Kolob Canyons area.
Kolob Canyons truly is a unique area of Zion National Park, with soaring peaks of Navajo sandstone, canyon streams and cascading falls, and over twenty miles worth of hiking trails, new experiences and stunning scenery await you around every bend. We hope see you soon!
Hi. I am Ranger Brian Forist. Welcome to Zion National Park. I’m at the South Campground Amphitheatre, or “lecture circle” as it was called when it was built in 1935. Here you can see the fine work done by young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the “CCC.” Between May of 1933 and June of 1942, more than 2,000 young men were enrolled in the three CCC camps at Zion National Park.
The CCC was the first federal employment program as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” during the Great Depression, a time when unemployment was at 25% and most young men had never held a full-time job. The law establishing an Emergency Conservation Work program was passed by Congress and signed by the president less than a month after Roosevelt took office on March 4, 1933. On May 29, the first twenty-nine enrollees arrived at Zion National Park. That summer, nationwide, 250,000 men between the ages of 18 and 25 began work in “Roosevelt’s Tree Army.” These young men, all unemployed and from families receiving some sort of relief, worked 40 hours a week on a variety of conservation projects. In exchange for their work they were paid $30.00 a month, and were to send $25.00 of that home. They also received job training and experience, a place to live in the camp barracks, and three meals a day…which was particularly valuable in that many of the young men literally did not know where their next meal was coming from before enrolling in the CCC.
Here at Zion National Park, the “CCC Boys” worked on a variety of projects that included channelization of the Virgin River near the Grotto and Zion Lodge, and other flood control and erosion control projects, construction of park maintenance facilities and ranger housing in Oak Creek, did irrigation projects in the lower parts of Zion Canyon, landscaping and roadwork along the Floor of the Valley Road, and the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, and the Kolob Terrace Road (then the road between Zion and Cedar Breaks). They built the Canyon Overlook and Watchman Trails, building the native stone pillars and signs at the south and east entrance of the park, and also constructed the South Campground, which included landscaping, road-building, and construction of numerous campsites, stone fireplaces, and this beautiful lecture circle with its ideal location and exquisite masonry.
Throughout the United States, more than three million young were employed by the CCC in national parks, forests, and other areas. Not only did the CCC create many wonderful and enduring facilities like this amphitheater, it built up young men, giving them skills, confidence, good health, and hope for a better future. As Belden Lewis, one of Zion’s CCC enrollees wrote, “[M]any varieties of work were undertaken, and so the boys learned things that fitted them for good jobs in civil life.” Visitors to Zion National Park and so many other places in the country owe a great debt of gratitude to the young men of the CCC. Their legacy here, most certainly lives on.
Hello, my name is Jenny Eberlein, I am an Interpretive Ranger here at Zion National Park. Welcome. Zion is home to some of the tallest sandstone cliffs in the world. Large sections of the sheer rock are often coated with mysterious and beautiful colors. Streaks and panels of black paint the canyon walls, and are often asked about. The answer about how this patina forms, relates back, like many processes here, to water.
Some of these streaks reveal the locations of ephemeral waterfalls. Rainfall of the summer monsoon, runs off the slick rock and pour from the tops of the cliffs, then the falls disappear as fast as they emerge. These falls leave the rock face wet. Large areas can also become moistened simply by humidity. Once the surface is wet, windblown particles, such as dust, soil, or plant material, stick to the desert varnish and become incorporated into the rock face. What happens after incorporation is still a bit of a mystery.
Scientists believe that the mixture of particles provides life to bacteria, which then produces manganese oxide as a waste product, causing the varnish to turn black. The microscopic processes of this film can take thousands of years to build up to the thickness of a single sheet of paper. During this time, this biotic process is surviving extreme temperatures from below freezing in the winter, and up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit on the rock face during the summer. What is more interesting is scientists recently discovered this black patina has layers, much like the rings of a tree. Seen under a high-powered microscope, dark bands indicate periods of wetter, cooler weather, and lighter bands indicate periods of drier, hotter weather. However, these layers still hold secrets that we have yet to unlock.
All across the canyon, nature is ever at work as the artist. Varnish forms as black patinas on the immense sandstone walls. But the microscopic formation of desert varnish may be best left undiscovered. Perhaps part of the beauty is, not knowing exactly what causes this coloration. Perhaps part of the enjoyment is the mystery which paints the walls of Zion.
Welcome to Zion National Park, my name is Colton Winder. Saddles, such as the one next to me, were vital tools to the early Mormon ranchers in Zion. This saddle belonged to my great grandfather. Today I’d like to tell you a story about his father, John Winder. Many of the pioneers in Zion owned livestock. These animals would graze in Zion Canyon in the winter. In the summer, they grazed on the east rim of Zion. However, this summer range was very difficult to reach. Zion Canyon’s 2,000 foot-high cliffs of sandstone made a direct route impossible. So to reach these grazing lands required a lengthy trip into Arizona and back up through the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, a distance of nearly 100 miles to reach grazing lands that were only seven miles from Zion.
John Winder solved this problem. Growing up, he spent a lot of time exploring the east rim. He knew of a cliff-face above Weeping Rock where the Native Americans had carved handholds in centuries past to gain access to the rim. He began to believe that a path for livestock could be made in this same area. In 1896, at age 23, he convinced other ranchers to provide money for dynamite and tools to carve a livestock trail through Echo Canyon, near the Native American trail. It started at a point where the Virgin River made a large bend in the canyon, so it was referred to as the “Big Bend Trail.” The ranchers now had a shortcut to their summer range.
John used the Big Bend trail as much as anyone and locals often called it “John’s Back Door,” as it ended here, near his ranch on east Zion. When Zion became a national park, it was among the first trails developed for hiking and is now called the East Rim Trail. The cowboys may be gone, but John’s trail still provides access to the East Rim for thousands of visitors every year and is a beautiful hike. John Winder played a role in Zion’s history that is as colorful as the cliffs surrounding us. His love of Zion has carried over to his descendants today. I hope that you too can come to love Zion National Park and treasure this gem of Southern Utah.
Welcome, my name is Juliet and I’m proud to be a ranger here at Zion N.P. Today we are going to be exploring some of the distinct plant and animal communities found throughout park. Among the soaring cliffs of Zion you can discover unique scenery as the landscape transitions from barren shrublands to tall forests.
Here at the bottom of the canyon, the Virgin River feeds a wide variety of water loving plants, including the Freemont cottonwood. This wealth of moisture creates a lush, green canyon floor which provides shade and home for many animals. If you walk along the water’s edge you can see a complexity of native fish, frogs and even water fowl.
If you look upward away from the river the habitat changes drastically. In these drier regions you can find Utah juniper and pinyon pine as well as many low lying shrubs. In this habitat you can find lizards, birds, and at night perhaps a kangaroo rat hoping along.
If you continue to climb, you will find yourself surrounded by tall ponderosa pine and douglas fir. These tall coniferous forests provide shelter for some of the park’s larger animals, such as elk, desert bighorn sheep, and even mountain lion.
These individual habitats blend together forming a mosaic of beauty found here at Zion N.P. So whether you’re looking up from the canyon floor, or down from the canyon’s rim, you’re sure to find a breathtaking view.
Hi, I’m ranger Holly. Here to share a little bit about Zion in winter. Winter in Zion is magical. The canyon is quieter, and the gleaming white snow brings out the vivid colors of the cliffs and sky. Zion has many wonders to offer, but because it’s winter you do need to be prepared. Let’s take a look at some of Zion’s different areas in winter.
In Zion Canyon, the shuttles are not running, so you can drive your own car up the six-mile scenic drive. If you’re an early riser, you might catch the first rays of light as they hit the towers dusted in snow. You’ll probably see waterfalls, and maybe even icicles at the Emerald Pools or Weeping Rock.
Though the canyon is spared the worst of Utah’s winter weather, we do get snow and cold snaps. Even on warm days, our trails will be ice covered. Traction devices are a must for walking or hiking. The higher you go, the more likely you’ll encounter deep snow and difficult conditions. You’re safety is your responsibility, so turn around when you need to.
Through the tunnel on Zion’s east side, more spectacular sights await. Swirling red and orange landforms are dotted with white, and the crisscross patterns of Checkerboard Mesa and Crazyquilt Mesa are more noticeable when highlighted with snow. This road, Highway 9, can be icy, slushy, or snow covered for several days after storms have passed through the area. You can get up-to-date road conditions online, or by calling 5-1-1 from your cell phone.
If you’re looking to escape winter, then head to the Southwest Desert. At the park’s lowest elevation, this area reveals the beauty of a Mohave Desert ecosystem. The trails here are usually snow free, and this is also a great place to go backpacking in the winter.
For serious winter enthusiasts, the high country of Zion offers places to ski and snowshoe. The brilliant rock of the Kolob Canyons glows in late afternoon and just before sunset. Bring your crampons to do a short walk, or your snowshoes to do a longer one. The Kolob Terrace Road is open only halfway in the winter season. This is the place to come and cross-country ski, but be prepared for winter driving conditions.
Whether it’s a brisk 30 degrees, or a balmy 60 degrees, Zion National Park is a wonderland that’s especially enchanting in winter. There’s something here for everyone. So pack up your layers, pack up the car, and come visit your national park at a special time of year!
Hi I’m Barbara Graves, Interpretive Park Ranger at Zion National Park. On behalf of the park staff I’d like to welcome you to Zion National Park and its majestic sedimentary rocks! The rocks at Zion represent a smorgasbord of paleo-environments including shallow marine, coastal, desert sand dunes, rivers, and lakes. Zion’s fossil plants, animals, and tracks provide a window to past life beginning more than 245 million years ago.
Imagine a scene here from one of those earliest times. Salty, shallow water lightly laps the shoreline where brachiopods and gastropods and crinoids fan out on the silty bottom. If we come forward millions of years from then, large reptiles lounge and forage in the afternoon sun along drainages. Forests of large conifers cover the inland areas. That was the scene here 220-million years ago during the Chinle Formation’s paleo-environment where today Zion’s petrified wood records that conifer forest evidence. Other Chinle fossils include bone fragments, fish and reptile teeth, plant material, and invertebrate burrows. Chinle’s terrestrial-vertebrate body fossils include phytosaur and crocodile-like reptiles remains.
Perhaps the most impressive fossil evidence is dinosaur imprints and casts found in the Formations behind me that were deposited after the Chinle Formation. Dozens of Moenave and Kayenta Formation tracks are preserved in place, including Eubrontes and Grallator tracks from theropod, or “three-toed” dinosaurs. Paleontologists give different names to these tracks than to the dinosaurs who created them, because it’s very difficult to link the two.
The most probable dinosaur for the creation of this Grallator track is Megapnosaurus, a lizard-like, 70-pound, meat-eater, about 10 feet long from the tip of the tail to nose. The Eubrontes track maker was likely a Dilophosaurus-like dinosaur that may have been 20 feet long and weighed up to 1500 pounds. Some fossil skeletons found elsewhere indicate that these dinosaurs hunted in packs, running up to 30 miles per hour.
If evolution had taken another path, we might be walking along the Par’us Trail today with a herd of dinosaurs thundering toward us. We hope you’ll join us soon at Zion to experience its unique geologic stories in stone.
Hello, my name is Tim Lutterman, interpretive ranger here in Zion National Park., and welcome to this ranger minute.
The cliffs of Zion are some of the tallest in the world, in some places rising over 2,000 vertical feet. These cliffs are home to animals like the peregrine falcon, and the California condor, which are easy to see and to admire. But these cliffs are also home to other forms of wildlife which often go overlooked by most of the parks visitors. Here, along this stretch of the riverside walk, you can find one of the smallest animals in the world hiding in plain sight in the hanging gardens along the trail, the Zion snail.
This is the smallest snail in the world, measuring in approximately 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch in diameter. They also boast proportionally the largest foot of any snail in the world. The foot is the muscle that is used by snails to move around. As if being the smallest in the world wasn’t enough of the claim to fame, these snails are also unique in that they are only found here in Zion National Park. Even within the park they are only found along the Virgin River, the parts of The Narrows, Orderville Canyon, and here along the riverside walk.
If you want to find these snails, the easiest place is along the riverside walk. They are easily seen in the flowing spring water coming down through the rock in the hanging gardens. If you do see them, please do not touch them. They are extremely fragile and are easily crushed by people trying to pick them off the walls. Simply admire them from the trail, or get out the camera and the macro lens and take a picture, so then you can show everyone these miniscule mollusks of Zion National Park.
Canyoneering is an adventure sport combining route finding, rappelling, problem-solving, swimming and hiking. Please watch this video for an introduction to some of the common dangers you are likely to face.