Riding Through Zion National Park
Ancient Navajo sandstone create an awe inspiring ride on Highway 9 through Zion National Park in the southwest corner of Utah. Whether or not you head to Zion for rock climbing, hiking, camping, or as in my case, to avoid the interstate on a cross-country ride you will not be disappointed.
Be prepared to pay a park entrance fee, even if just passing through, to help maintain the natural beauty.
One of the many unique formation found near the eastern entrance is a checkerboard pattern mesa.
Spring and fall weather offer some of the seasons to visit Zion as the cooler weather will not be as taxing on hikes and the changing colors offer gorgeous contrast between the vegetation and hues of red that line the canyon walls.
Make your reservation early if you wish to overnight at the Zion Lodge inside the park offering both hotel rooms and rustic cabins. For the more adventurous there are 3 campgrounds; only the Watchman Campground allows you to secure a site ahead of time.
The former name of the park was “Mukuntuweap” before being changed to Zion in 1918 to attract a larger number of visitors with a more easily pronounced and less ethnic name.
One of the longest tunnels in the world was constructed to give visitors access through the park. At 1.1 miles long the Mt. Carmel Tunnel in Zion is still an architectural feat after being opened in 1930.
Erosion creates beauty all over the park! The Great Arch above is a “blind” arch as erosion has left it attached to the canyon wall. Thought to be largest freestanding arch in the world for decades the Kolob arch is hidden in Zion’s backcountry for those willing to hike.
Zion National Park’s formations and biodiversity are the result of the Mojave Desert, Great Basin, and Colorado Plateaus as they geographically meet in this area of Southern Utah.
The high Plateaus found in this section of Utah are best viewed from the valley floors as opposed to neighboring parks where the rim offers scenic viewpoints overlooking the parks instead of being in them.
Personally, the sheer size of Zion’s massive sandstone cliffs was the highlight of my ride through the park as they had a way of making me feel humbled and small. If riding choose a helmet that allows good neck rotation as you will be looking up more often than not.
Regardless if you come for a week, weekend, or a day as a scenic bypass you will not be disappointed with your time in one of the most diverse parks in the United States.