By Michael Lanza
Even in the Southwest, a region where the extraordinary becomes ordinary, Zion National Park stands out. Other places have natural arches, spires, and ancient cliff dwellings, but no place really matches Zion’s grandeur: cliffs up to 2,000 feet tall stretching for miles, the rock’s purity of white and deep burgundy, and patterns of striations rippling across a span of stone that dwarfs Man’s greatest buildings and monuments. Perhaps that’s why it was Utah’s first national park, designated in the same year, 1919, as Grand Canyon and Acadia.
As the photos below demonstrate, Zion harbors some of America’s best dayhiking and backpacking.
Zion deserves the attention of every avid and casual hiker, backpacker, and parent wanting to raise a child with a love for America’s greatest natural heritage: our national parks. The good news is that Zion offers hikes ranging from short and easy to multi-day backpacking, including a classic north-south traverse of the entire park. Then there’s the technical canyoneering possibilities in Zion, which open up an entirely new world.
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Ready to see the best of Zion? See “Insider Tips: The 10 Best Hikes in Zion National Park,” which includes my tips on avoiding crowds on Zion’s busy trails; plus my feature stories about backpacking The Narrows, a family backpacking trip, a 50-mile dayhike across the park, and hiking Zion’s Subway, this photo gallery from hiking in Zion’s Kolob Canyons, and all of my stories about Zion National Park.