Distance Learning

Carving the Canyon - The Geologic Story of Zion

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Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade


Zion National Park’s geologic story involves deposition, uplift, and erosion, and is a stunning example of the geologic processes that created Earth. Zion National Park is located along the edge of a region known as the Colorado Plateau. The rock layers have been uplifted, tilted, and eroded, forming a feature called the Grand Staircase, a series of colorful cliffs stretching between Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. Most of the rocks in Zion National Park are sedimentary rocks –made of sand and bits and pieces of older rocks that have been weathered, eroded, and deposited in layers. Mineral-laden waters slowly filtered through the compacted sediments, and over time transformed the deposits into stone in a process called lithification.

In an area from Zion to the Rocky Mountains, forces deep within the earth started to push the surface up, eventually causing Zion’s elevation to rise from near sea level to as high as 10,000 feet above sea level. This process of uplift is still occurring today, and has resulted in the sharp erosion process that continues to carve the canyon today.

Through this program, students will gain an understanding of the unique and complex geologic story of Zion and the southwest. Students interact with park rangers via the internet to discuss the formation of the canyon, and then engage in a critical-thinking activity about erosion and engineering. The program lasts approximately one hour.

Please contact us at e-mail us to register for this program. 
Review our equipment requirements document. 


Carving the Canyon Lesson Plan

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Activity Page

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Standards Addressed

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Last updated: July 26, 2017