Zion National Park

Zion National Park


Zion National Park is Utah’s oldest national park, designated in 1919. Zion’s soaring towers and monoliths offer a quiet grandeur. With nearly three million visitors per year, Zion is Utah’s most heavily used park. In spring of 2000, in order to ease congestion in the 6.5 mile Zion Canyon, a new transportation system was implemented. It provides multi-passenger shuttle vehicles as the only motorized transportation in the park loop. The trams allow visitors to enjoy Zion’s lofty formations such as Kolob Arch -the world’s largest arch – with a span that measures 310 feet, The Great White Throne, The Watchman, Angels Landing, and Weeping Rock. The Transportation System includes a “town loop” that eliminates congestion in the streets of Springdale at the park’s south entrance. Visitors can still use private vehicles to tour the park on state Hwy 9. Oversized vehicles are subject to some restrictions however, and a fee is charged for escorting them through the narrow Long Tunnel. Click here for information on Zion National Park.

There are several easy, self-guiding trails in Zion, including the Gateway to the Narrows Trail, which is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs with assistance. More adventurous or strenuous hikes are also found in the park. Two entrances to Zion National Park are 33 miles east of I-15 or 12 miles west of US 89, both on Utah Hwy 9. The northern Kolob Canyons section of the park is accessible off I-15, 18 miles north of Cedar City. Zion National Park visitor centers are open year round as are in-park campgrounds and the historic Zion Lodge.

Wildlife such as mule deer, golden eagles, and mountain lions, also inhabit Zion National Park. Mukuntuweap National Monument proclaimed July 31, 1909; incorporated in Zion National Monument March 18, 1918; Zion Canyon was established as a national park on Nov. 19, 1919. For more Zion National Park information be sure to get a Zion Travel Packet! Also view lodging opportunities in Zion National Park.

Plant Life

Shuttle

Geology

Hiking

Plant Life

Zion has the richest diversity of plants in Utah—almost 800 native species. Differences in elevation, sunlight, water, and temperature create “microenvironments,” like hanging gardens, forested side canyons, and isolated mesas. The variety of mountain and canyon environments makes Zion an excellent location for wildflower walks in the spring and summer and brilliant leaf color in the autumn. Take on of the many hikes through Zion Canyon and you will see why Zion can be considered a “paradise”.

Evening primrose native to the north temperate zone is a perennial herb with en erect hairy stem and rough hairy leaves generally 3-6 inches long. Yellow flowers bloom in umbrellas and are 1-1/2 inches across. The evening primrose also has medicinal purposes. The oil received from the plant is used to help with many medical problems. The oil has helped with: premenstrual syndrome, benign breast disease, cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity and some skin conditions.

Larkspur is a winter annual native to southern Europe that has adapted well all over the country. Larkspurs are distinguishable by the backward projecting spur formed by the upper petal of the flower. They can be found in in well drained soils out in the sun. Tightly compact blossoms area arranged on spikes in shades of white, pink, and deep blue.

The ponderosa pine also known as the western yellow pine, can be identified by its asymmetrically shaped bark plates, and its needles are 5-10 inches long and come in bundles of three. These trees are mostly found on the west rim of the canyon and can be seen in the Kolob Canyons also.

Cottonwood trees are found throughout Zion Canyon providing shade for hikers, picnickers and mountain bikers. In the late spring, the trees release its seeds in a cotton-like substance that floats through the air and covers the ground making it look as if it snowed.

Shuttle

Zion National Park has become increasingly popular with visitors, both local and international. Most arrive by car, RV, or tour bus. The park is being overwhelmed. Traffic congestion, lack of parking places, air and noise pollution, and damage to natural resources are frustrating problems the park was experiencing.

Visitation to the park is 2.5 million people a year and increasing. Solving these problems is crucial to protecting the park and providing a quality experience. To reduce traffic and to improve the park experience, a new bus transportation system began operation on May 26, 2000. It will run during the busy season, March through October, and peak periods. One loop will include eight stops in Zion Canyon, and a second will include six stops in the town of Springdale. Parking will be available throughout Springdale and inside the south park entrance. It will be possible to leave your vehicle in town and ride the shuttle to the new Zion Canyon Visitor Center or park right at the visitor center. There, exhibits and audio visual presentations will help you plan your visit.

The visitor center will be the start of the Zion Canyon loop into the park. Shuttles will depart each location often throughout the day. You may get on and off the shuttle as many times as you wish. Riding the shuttle on both loops is free. The cost of the shuttle system is included in the park entrance fee. All visitors, except those staying at Zion Lodge, will use the buses to access Zion Canyon. You will still have the option of biking or hiking along the canyon’s scenic drive. The Pa’rus Trail connects Zion Canyon to the new visitor center and both campgrounds. The east side of the park will remain accessible by private vehicle.

Schedule: Shuttles will operate beginning at 6:30 a.m. every 30 minutes, increasing to every 15 minutes and then, during the busy part of the day, every 6 to 8 minutes. Toward evening, the shuttles will scale back to 15 minutes, then to 30 minutes. The last shuttle will leave the visitor center at 9:30 p.m. This schedule is subject to change. A complete round trip will take a minimum of 90 minutes. Please no eating, drinking, smoking or pets allowed on the bus.

For a day-trip on the shuttle, you should take:

  • Water
  • Walking shoes
  • Sunscreen / hat / sunglasses
  • Snacks
  • Maps
  • Camera /binoculars
  • Dress for the weather!

Geology

The Geology of Zion National Park is amazing. Many visitors traveling through the park wonder how such massive stone structures came to be. The answer dates back 250 million years ago when volcanoes were erupting and spewing ash all over. Dinosaurs left tracks in the ash leaving behind fossils which are still around today.

The sandstone which makes up most of the rock in Zion National Park was formed by the compacting of sand about 150 million years ago. This occurred when cementing properties of compounds such as calcium carbonate compacted the sand which covered the huge desert of the west. Dunes were at that timed formed into the present day Navajo Sandstone.

Zion National ParkThe next stage of creation occurred starting close to 4 million years ago when streams running of the Colorado Plateau caused the Virgin River to flood. As the river flowed through the current Zions, it eroded the rock away taking boulders, sand, and pebbles with it. Over time it formed, or rather carved the canyon we see today.

Interestingly enough, Zion National Park is actually very young from a geological standpoint. This is because Zion didn’t develop its current characteristics until just the past few million years. As Zion keeps changing, as it does every year, some day far in the future it will become nothing but a flat plain.

Hiking

Zion National Park has many trails which range from an easy 10-minute walk to strenuous multiple day backpacking trips. The best time to hike while you are in Zions is in the early morning and late afternoon because of the intense heat during the summer. Hiking during the middle of the day is recommended during the colder months. Free backcountry permits are required to camp on a hiking trip. These permits are issued at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center as well as the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center.

The Narrows is one of the favorite hikes at Zions, and probably the best known and most popular hike in the park. The Narrows, which requires at least one full day of hiking is a strenuous hike which requires you to walk, or rather wade, much of the time through the Virgin River. It is 16 miles in length and may be closed at times because of the threat of flash floods.

Zion Canyon Trails

  • Weeping Rock – Beginning at the Weeping Rock parking lot, this easy trail is 1/2 mile long and will take around 1/2 hour to complete.
  • Canyon Overlook – Beginning at the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway just east of the long tunnel, this easy trail is 1 mile long and will take around 1 hour to complete.
  • Emerald Pools – Beginning at the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive opposite Zion Lodge, this easy to moderately strenuous trail is 1.2 miles long and will take around 1 hour to complete.
  • Riverside Walk – Beginning at the Temple of Sinawava, this easy trail is 2 miles long and will take around 1.5 hours to complete.
  • Watchman – Beginning at the service road east of Watchman Campground, this moderately strenuous trail is 2 miles long and will take around 2 hours to complete.
  • Hidden Canyon – Beginning at the Weeping Rock Parking Lot, this moderately strenuous trail is 2 miles long and will take around 3 hours to complete.
  • Angels Landing – Beginning at the Grotto Picnic Area, this strenuous trail is 5 miles long and will take around 4 hours to complete.

Kolob Trails

  • Taylor Creek – Beginning 2 miles from the Kolob Visitor Center, this moderately strenuous hike is 5.4 miles long and will take around 4 hours to complete.
  • Kolob Arch – Beginning at Lee Pass on the Kolob Canyons Road, this strenuous trail is 14.4 miles long and will take around 9 hours to complete.

Extended Backcountry Trails

  • Easy Rim – Beginning at the Weeping Rock Parking Lot, this strenuous trail is 11.6 miles long and will take around 7 hours to complete.
  • West Rim – Beginning at the Grotto Picnic Area, this strenuous trail is 14 miles long and will take around 12 hours to complete.

Canyoneering. Permits are required for all through hikes of the Narrows and its tributaries, the Left Fork of North Creek (the Subway), Kolob Creek, and all canyons requiring the use of aid. The Subway is limited to 50 people per day. Other hiking permits are available at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center beginning at 8:00 a.m. up to one calendar month prior to the date of the hike. Cost is $5.00 per person for Subway and Narrows. There is no fee for other canyons. The maximum group size is 12, including all leaders.

Climbing. Climbing on Zion’s sandstone requires appropriate hardware and techniques. Information on climbing is available at visitor centers. Climbing and rappelling is prohibited on the cliffs above Middle and Lower Emerald Pools and Weeping Rock. Some routes may be closed to climbing when Peregrine Falcons are nesting. A permit is required for overnight climbs. There is no fee for overnight climbs. Visit the Backcountry Permit Desk for additional climbing routes and information.

History

Utah’s oldest and most visited national park, Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah. Most of the park’s 147,000 acres are located within Washington County; however, the extreme eastern section of the park is in Kane County, while the park’s northern tip extends into Iron County. Zion Canyon is located on the southern part of the Markagunt Plateau. It is cut by tributaries of the Virgin River which have left eroded canyon walls and monoliths that are beautiful and overpowering.

Zion Canyon presents a diverse collection of nature’s wonders that include such features as the towering and magnificent 2,200-foot Great White Throne, the park’s most famous landmark; the Court of the Patriarchs; the Sentinel; the Watchman; Checkerboard Mesa; Kolob Arch, at 310 feet the world’s largest known natural span; and the Narrows of the Virgin River, where a person can walk upstream to places so narrow that both sides of the canyon walls can almost be touched with one’s outstretched hands.

One early visitor to Zion Canyon, Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, an artist who had been with John Wesley Powell on his second trip down the Grand Canyon in 1872, spent part of the summer of 1903 painting in Zion Canyon. The paintings were exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and an article about Zion Canyon, “A New Valley of Wonders,” was published by Dellenbaugh in the January 1904 issue of Scribner’s Magazine. In the article, Dellenbaugh described his first view of the Great Temple, which stands at the entrance to Zion Canyon: “One hardly knows just how to think of it. Never before has such a naked mountain of rock entered our minds. Without a shred of disguise it transcendent form rises pre-eminent. There is almost nothing to compare to it. Niagara has the beauty of energy; the Grand Canyon of immensity; the Yellowstone of singularity; the Yosemite of altitude; the ocean of power; this Great Temple of eternity.”

Zion Canyon was occupied by the Anasazi people from about 1,500 to 800 year ago. Their abandoned cliff houses, rock art, and chipping sites are scattered throughout the park. The Paiute Indians occupied the canyon when Nephi Johnson arrived in 1858. The first Mormon occupant of Zion Canyon was Isaac Behunin, who built a one-room log cabin at a site near the location of Zions Lodge. Behunin named his new home Zion Canyon. He was soon joined by a few other settlers who established farms along the narrow valley floor. Later, in 1900, David Flanigan began to build a system of cable works which would provide the means to lower virgin timber to the valley floor from the high mountain forests nearly two thousand feet above the canyon.

In 1872 John Wesley Powell surveyed the area and recorded the canyon’s Indian name, Mukuntuweap. It was under this name that the canyon was designated a national monument on 31 July 1909 by a proclamation signed by President William Howard Taft. In 1918 it was renamed Zion National Monument; a year later, 1919, it became a national park. The first automobile road was constructed into the canyon in 1917 and the first lodge was built in 1925. The original lodge was destroyed by fire in 1966 and a new building was constructed that year. During the winter of 1989-90 the exterior of the lodge was restored to its historic architectural look.

The park’s most impressive construction project, the 1.1-mile-long tunnel cut through solid sandstone, was begun in 1927 and completed in 1930 at a cost of $2,000,000. At that time many of the hiking trails within the park were undertaken, including the famous “Walter’s Wiggles” section of the trail to Angels Landing, completed in 1926. Other trails and improvements in the park were undertaken by Civilian Conservation Corps crews during the 1930s. In 1937 the Kolob Canyon region was designated as a national monument, and it was incorporated into Zion National park in 1956.

Zion Canyon is especially popular with hikers and drivers, who follow the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to its terminus at the Temple of Sinawava and the Gateway to the Narrows, and then return to take the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, with its tunnel, to the top of the canyon. The park has two visitor centers, one at the entrance to Kolob Canyon and the main visitor center at the south entrance to the park.

The beauty of Zion Canyon has gained worldwide recognition, with over three million visitors coming to the park in 1993. However, because of the severe and growing automobile congestion inside the park, the National Park Service recently announced plans to limit private vehicles in Zion Canyon by providing a public transportation system that would restrict private vehicles to areas outside the park.

Park Information

Visitation. Highest in the summer and lightest during the winter months.

Location. Zion National Park is located in southwest Utah on the edge of the Colorado Plateau. The area to the south of Zion is known as Utah’s Dixie. The area found on the north and east of Zion is known as Color Country.
Address
Superintendent
Zion National Park
Springdale, UT 84767
Telephone
435-772-3256 This line offers 24-hour recorded information

Park Entrances
• South Entrance: East on Route 9 off I-15 north or south
• East Entrance: west on Route 9 off east Hwy 89
• Kolob Canyon Entrance: Exit 40 off I-15 (does not access the rest of the park)

Entrance Fees. Entrance to the park is $25 per vehicle, $10 per pedestrian or cyclist (not to exceed $20 per family). The fee for commercial vehicles is based on capacity and ranges from $35-$190. Please contact the park at (435)772-3256 for more information and rates. Entrance fees are waived with a Zion National Park Pass ($40 annually), annual Golden Eagle Passport, Golden Age Passport or Golden Access Passport. You can obtain these passes at any national park, monument or recreation area, including any Sequoia or Kings Canyon Park entrance.

Reservations and Permits. Campgrounds are both first-come, first-served and by reservations if you have any questions just call the reservation phone or talk to a ranger at a visitor center. Reservations can be made by calling: 1-800-365-CAMP(2267).

Backcountry Camping – Permits are required in Zion for all camping outside designated campgrounds. The cost is $5.00 per person and parties are limited to 12 persons including leaders. Permits and more information is available at both visitor centers.

Operating Hours. Visitors centers are open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in the spring, fall, and winter, with extended hours in the summer. Some visitor centers are closed on some federal holidays.
For current updates call the 24 hour number at (435) 772-3256

Transportation
To Park: Commercial airlines fly into Cedar City, St. George, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas, NV. Greyhound /Trailways serves St. George and Cedar City and you can either rent a car or take a taxi from either city. Amtrak serves Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

In Park: Rental cars are available at the airports and other locations in Cedar City, St. George, Salt Lake City or Las Vegas. A free shuttle is available in the Giant Forest during the summer months. Zion Lodge provides tram tours of upper Zion Canyon. A hiker shuttle is also available for transportation to backcountry trailheads. Call (435) 772-3213 for prices and details.

Weather. The climate in Zion is quite mild and very pleasurable. In the summer temperatures range from the 60′ into the 90’s. During the winter, temperatures range from the 20’s into the 50’s. The spring can bring storms without warning and the possibilities are common in the summer also. The winter can bring rain to the valleys and snow to the higher elevations. Be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions. Temperatures vary with changes in elevation and seasons. Day/night temperatures may differ by over 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Safety Tips

  • Lock valuables in your car out of sight.
  • Let someone know of your itinerary when hiking in the backcountry.
  • Prevent blisters by wearing comfortable boots or shoes which fit the terrain.
  • Be prepared for any weather condition. During the summer temperatures can reach or exceed 100ºF. Wear sunscreen and a hat. Carry plenty of water. Hike in the earlier hours of the morning or later in the afternoon. Bring the proper equipment in the winter.
  • Prevent hypothermia by wearing layers. If you find yourself shivering and feel disoriented, seek shelter and drink warm liquids. Hypothermia can develop and is a serious condition requiring medical attention.
  • Watch for mountain lions(also known as panthers, cougars, or pumas.) If you encounter one, back away slowly; if attacked, wave, shout, and throw rocks. DO NOT RUN. Watch children closely.
  • Watch where you are stepping and reaching because you may encounter a poisonous western rattlesnake, which is commonly found below 7000-foot elevations and occasionally up to 11,000-foot elevations. Even though snake bites are rarely fatal, they do require a doctor’s attention. If you are bitten, avoid moving, which spreads the venom, and send for help immediately. Snakes are a native species to the park and should not be disturbed.
  • Do not feed or touch ground squirrels or other rodents. They can carry disease.
  • Giardiasis, an intestinal disorder, can result from drinking water from the streams or lakes in the mountains. Carry sufficient water. Purify water taken from the lakes and streams using a Giardia-rated water filter, or by boiling it for three to five minutes.
  • Zion is very prone to flash floods. Check with the nearest visitor center before entering any of the canyons.

Visitor Centers and Exhibits. When you arrive in the park, stop at a visitors center for an overview of the park by watching a slide presentation and viewing the exhibits. Park rangers can be found on hand to answer questions. Backcountry permits, ranger-guided walks, maps, books, and other park literature is also available. You will also find rest rooms and water fountains.

  • Zion Canyon Visitor Center, South Entrance – open year round
  • Kolob Canyons Visitor Center, Kolob Canyon Entrance – open year round

Exhibits can be seen at both the centers. Zion Canyon Visitor Center is the only center open during the winter.

  • Zion Canyon Visitor Center, South Entrance
    Exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the area.
  • Kolob Canyons Visitor Center, Kolob Canyon Entrance
    Exhibits explain the geology of Zion National Park.

Lodging and Camping Facilities. Lodging in Zion National Park is operated by Amfac Parks & Resorts. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially during summer and holidays.

  • Zion Lodge – open year round
  • Other lodging can be found in the surrounding communities

Campgrounds in Zion. Zion has three campgrounds. Two are on a first-come, first-served basis. To make reservations or for more information, call 1-800-365-2267.

  • South Campground – Open April through October. First come first serve, no hookups, no showers. – $14.00 or $7.00 with a Golden Age/Access card.
  • Watchman Campground -Open year-round – Tent: $14.00 or $7.00 with a Golden Age/Access card, Elec.: $16.00 night ($8.00 w/G. Age – Access) Group: $3.00 per/person, per/night, no showers.
  • Lava Point – open June-October – No Fee, first-come, first-served, primitive campground with only 6 sites and no water. Lava Point is about 1 hour from main canyon of park.

Food and Supplies. Food service and groceries available in the park at Zion Lodge and in surrounding communities.

Recommended Activities. Drive through Zion Canyon and take advantage of all the short trails and overlooks. Stop at the visitor centers to learn more about the park. Enjoy the view of the canyon and from the canyon overlook shortly after the tunnel on Route 9. Take a little extra time and hop over to Kolob Canyons. Learn about the geology of the park at the visitor center and follow the road into the canyons where you will find the trail to on of the world’s longest arches, Kolob Arch.

Photo Gallery

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park


Capitol Reef National Park splashes color for 75 miles from its northern to southern boundaries. The Waterpocket Fold (right), a bulging uplift of rainbow-hued sandstone, creates Capitol Reef National Park’s “reefs” and canyons.

Most of Capitol Reef is an inviting wilderness of sandstone formations. These formations in Capitol Reef National Park include Capitol Dome, Hickman Bridge, and those in splendid Cathedral Valley. In the midst of Capitol Reef’s red rocks and ancient petroglyph panels are large orchards-where fruit may be picked in season in the remnants of Fruita, an early pioneer settlement.
The visitor center is open year-round. Several easy hiking trails and a 25-mile scenic drive lead from its vicinity. Cathedral Valley and other backcountry areas are reached by traveling on high-clearance dirt roads. Capitol Reef National Park is 11 miles east of Torrey or 3 miles west of Hanksville on Hwy 24.

Plant Life

Cottonwood
Primarily found in watersheds and along streams, these short lived, fast growing trees are abundant seed producers. Male and female flowers bloom in separate catkins on different trees in spring before the leaves appear. The cotton-haired seeds, produced in small capsules, are wind dispersed. Because of the mess caused by the mass of “cotton” produced in early summer, this tree is prohibited in some cities

A tall tree up to 30 meters with a broad, open crown and a short trunk 1 meter or more in diameter, Fremont cottonwood is distinguishable by its broad, triangular leaves with their very coarse, rounded teeth and long, flattened stalks. The bark is thick, rough and splitting, light gray or brownish or whitish and smooth on young trunks and the branches are stout and spreading.

Yucca Plant
Yucca is a plant familiar to most Americans who have traveled or lived in the U.S. Southwest or Mexico, where it grows abundantly. A member of the lily family, the plant is also known by the names soap root, Spanish bayonet, Spanish dagger and others.

Pines and Firs

Bristlecone Pine: Bristlecones don’t grow very tall, 60 ft. (18.3m) at the most, but usually much less. Girth of the largest one, the Patriarch is 36.8″ (11.2m), and this tree is relatively young at 1,500 years. The average age is about 1,000 years with only a few over 4,000 years. The oldest trees grow on outcrops of dolomite ­an alkaline calcareous substrate of low nutrient but of higher moisture content than the surrounding sandstone.

Douglas Fir: The two varieties of Douglas-fir occur in quite different ecosystems. The Interior variety grows in a variety of habitats including open forests with pine grass and mosses beneath. On the coast, the forests are much more productive. Douglas-fir can grow with western redcedar, hemlock, and grand fir, with a lush layer of salal, huckleberries, Oregon-grape, and sword fern beneath. Many animals eat Douglas-fir seeds, including squirrels, chipmunks, mice, shrews, winter wrens, and crossbills. Bears often scrape off the bark on young trees and eat the sap layer beneath.

Pinon Pine: The Pinon Pine is native to the desert southwest’s higher elevations, from 4,000 to 7,000 feet. You will find this tree growing above rocky arroyos in the mountain foothills. This pine is very hardy though, and can tolerate extreme cold and heat, as well as the strong winds. It grows up to 6″ a year, and reaches a mature size of 30′ tall and 20′ feet wide.

Ponderosa Pine: Also known as the Blackjack or Western Yellow Pine, this evergreen was first reported by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804. Twenty-two years later it was named by the famous Scottish Botanist, David Douglas, for its heavy or “ponderous” wood. The Ponderosa was mistaken for two different trees due to the differences between the younger and older of its kind. For the first 80-100 years, the bark of the Ponderosa is smooth and a dark brown-black, leading to the name Blackjack Pine. Later, the bark of the older tree is an orange-brown color with deep ridges.

Geology

Capitol Reef National Park was established because of the scenic rock domes and narrow canyons found along the trace of the Waterpocket Fold. Indeed, the park boundaries were drawn to encompass most of the Fold. Capitol Reef is a place to enjoy the scenic majesty formed by geologic processes, and also to appreciate the interrelationships between the Earth and all life found in the varied environments within the park – – from the forested slopes of Thousand Lake Mountain, to the green oasis of Fruita, to the barren Bentonite Hills.

The Waterpocket Fold defines Capitol Reef National Park. A nearly 100-mile long warp in the Earth’s crust, the Waterpocket Fold is a classic monocline: a regional fold with one very steep side in an area of otherwise nearly horizontal layers. A monocline is a “step-up” in the rock layers. The rock layers on the west side of the Waterpocket Fold have been lifted more than 7000 feet higher than the layers on the east. Major folds are almost always associated with underlying faults. The Waterpocket Fold formed between 50 and 70 million years ago when a major mountain building event in western North America, the Laramide Orogeny, reactivated an ancient buried fault. When the fault moved, the overlying rock layers were draped above the fault and formed a monocline.

More recent uplift of the entire Colorado Plateau and the resulting erosion has exposed this fold at the surface only within the last 15 to 20 million years. The name Waterpocket Fold reflects this ongoing erosion of the rock layers. “Water Pockets” are basins that form in many of the sandstone layers as they are eroded by water. These basins are common throughout the fold, thus giving it the name “Waterpocket Fold”. Erosion of the tilted rock layers continues today forming colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, stark monoliths, twisting canyons, and graceful arches.

The most scenic portion of the Waterpocket Fold, found near the Fremont River, is known as Capitol Reef: “capitol” for the white domes of Navajo Sandstone that resemble capitol building rotundas, and “reef” for the rocky cliffs which are a barrier to travel, like a coral reef.

Nearly 10,000 feet of sedimentary strata are found in the Capitol Reef area. These rocks range in age from Permian (as old as 270 million years old) to Cretaceous (as young as 80 million years old.) The Waterpocket Fold has tilted this geologic layer cake down to the east. The older rocks are found in the western part of the park, and the younger rocks are found near the east boundary.

This layer upon layer sequence of sedimentary rock records nearly 200 million years of geologic history. Rock layers in Capitol Reef reveal ancient climates as varied as rivers and swamps (Chinle Formation), Sahara-like deserts (Navajo Sandstone), and shallow ocean (Mancos Shale).

Erosion. Most of the erosion that carved today’s landscape occurred after the uplift of the Colorado Plateau sometime within the last 20 million years. Most of the major canyon cutting probably occurred between 1 and 6 million years ago.

Even in this desert climate, water is the erosional agent most responsible for the carving of the landscape. The pull of gravity, in the form of rock falls or rock creep, plays a major role in the shaping of the cliff lines. Wind is a minor agent of erosion here.

The landforms are a result of different responses of the various rock layers to the forces of erosion. Hard sandstone layers, like the red Wingate and the white Navajo Sandstones, form cliffs. Softer, shale layers, like the Chinle Formation, form slopes and low hills. The barren slopes found in many areas are due in part to the presence of bentonitic clays in the shale which make an inhospitable environment for plants.

The black boulders, found scattered throughout the Fremont River valley and along other drainages, are recent geologic arrivals to Capitol Reef. These volcanic rocks came from the 20 to 30 million year old lava flows which cap Boulder and Thousand Lake Mountains. The boulders made their way to Capitol Reef during the Ice Ages when the High Plateaus supported small mountain glaciers. Landslides, debris flows, and possibly heavy stream outwash from these glaciers carried the boulders to lower elevations in the park.

Cathedral Valley

The scenery of the Entrada Sandstone temples of Cathedral Valley is complemented by evidence of other geologic processes at work. Flowage and dissolution of gypsum, a soluble mineral from the underlying Carmel Formation, created Glass Mountain and the Gypsum Sinkhole. Glass Mountain is an exposed plug of gypsum. The Gypsum Sinkhole formed when a gypsum plug dissolved. Dikes and sills, which are thin bodies of igneous rock and small volcanic plugs, are found in Upper Cathedral Valley. These features formed during volcanic activity 3 to 6 million years ago.

Hiking

Day Hiking. In the Fruita area, there are 15 day hiking trails with trailheads located along Utah Hwy. 24 and the Scenic Drive. These trails offer the hiker a wide variety of options, from easy strolls along smooth paths over level ground to strenuous hikes involving steep climbs over uneven terrain near cliff edges. Hikes may take you deep into a narrow gorge, to the top of high cliffs for a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area, under a natural stone arch, to historic inscriptions…and much, much more! Round trip distances vary in length from less than 1/4 mile to 10 miles. All trails are well-marked with signs at the trailhead and at trail junctions and by cairns (stacks of rocks) along the way. A free guide to the trails is available at the visitor center. Some trails have self-guiding brochures which are available, for a nominal fee, at the trailhead or at the visitor center.

Strenuous Hikes
CASSIDY ARCH
• Length: 1 and 3/4 miles
• Description: climbs steeply from floor of Grand Wash to high cliffs, ending above the arch.

GOLDEN THRONE
• Length: 2 miles
• Description: climbs from bottom of gorge to top of cliffs and views of the base of Golden Throne; panoramas.

CHIMNEY ROCK
• Length: 3 and 1/2 miles
• Description: climbs up switchbacks to upper loop; views of Chimney Rock and panoramas; self guiding trail.

NAVAJO KNOBS
• Length: 4 and 1/2 miles
• Description: follows trail to Rim Overlook; then climbs another 2 1/4 miles for a 360 degree panorama.

COHAB CANYON
• Length: 1 and 3/4 miles
• Description: Strenuous for first 1/4 mile, then moderate; climbs to a hidden canyon above the campground.

OLD WAGON TRAIL
• Length: 3 and 1/2 miles
• Description: follows wagon route on Miners Mountain; panoramic views of the Waterpocket Fold.

FREMONT GORGE
• Length: 2 and 1/4 miles
• Description: crosses Johnson Mesa, then climbs steeply to 1,000 feet above the Fremont River.

RIM OVERLOOK
• Length: 2 and 1/4 of a mile
• Description: ends on top of 1000 foot cliffs with spectacular views of the orchards, campground, and southward along the Waterpocket Fold.

FRYING PAN
• Length: 3 miles
• Description: follows ridge of Capitol Reef escarpment 1

Moderate Hikes

HICKMAN BRIDGE
• Length: 1 mile
• Description: self-guiding nature trail leads under Hickman Natural Bridge.

FREMONT RIVER
• Length: 1 1/4 miles
• Description: Very easy first 1/2 mile, strenuous thereafter; through orchards to overlook of the valley; self guiding trail.

Easy Hikes

CAPITOL GORGE
• Length: 1 mile
• Description: mostly level walking along narrow wash bottom with sheer canyon walls plus Pioneer Register and waterpockets or “tanks.”

GRAND WASH
• Length: 2 1/4 miles
• Description: mostly level walking along narrow wash bottom with sheer canyon walls rising on both sides.

GOOSENECKS
• Length: 1/10 of a mile
• Description: views of Sulphur Creek Canyon, panoramas, interesting rock formations beside the trail.

SUNSET POINT
• Length: 1/3 of a mile
• Description: panoramic views of cliffs and domes; dramatic lighting at day’s end.

History

Called by some Native Americans the “Sleeping Rainbow,” Capitol Reef National Park takes its name from a segment of the Waterpocket Fold, which, with its many domes of white Navajo sandstone over red Wingate sandstone cliffs, resembles the domes of the U.S. and other capitol buildings. The Waterpocket Fold is a north-south upthrust ridge of slickrock nearly unbroken in the one hundred miles of its length from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell.

Before the fourteenth century, the area was occupied by prehistoric people known as the Fremont Indians, who scratched petroglyphs and painted pictographs on rock walls of the land near trails and watercourses.

In 1878 Franklin D. Richards, a Mormon settler, established Fruita in Wayne County where park headquarters is now located. Other pioneers tried to establish small communities along the Fremont River. Ephraim P. Pectol of Torrey thought of the “Wayne Wonderland” as a candidate for national or state park status in 1910. Joseph H. Hickman, a member of the Utah state legislature convinced his colleagues to set aside 160 acres as a park. In 1933 Pectol was elected to the legislature and convinced it to memorialize Congress to accept Wayne Wonderland as part of the national park system. Capitol Reef National Monument was the result–established by presidential proclamation in 1937. Those most responsible for its establishment include E. P. Pectol, J. E. Broaddus, a Salt Lake writer, and Dr. A. L. Inglesby of Torrey. After national attention was drawn to the Canyonlands area by the creation of Lake Powell, the monument was expanded to include most of the Waterpocket Fold, and in 1971 the natural wonder was declared a park in the national park system.

The park’s Central district includes the original Monument and the road that follows along the river between Fruita and Cainsville. This route along State Highway 24 features wonderful views of colored and eroded rock. The North district is primarily Cathedral Valley, which consists of cliffs and buttes of awesome size and beauty that resemble the shapes of huge gothic buildings. The South district is the long spine of Waterpocket Fold. As a barrier to travelers this spine marks a drift line on the east flank of the plateaus drained by the Colorado River.

Jay M. Haymond

Park Information

VISITATION:
Approximately 706,000, primarily between April and October. Visitation is the highest April through June, September and October; lowest in January.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Superintendent
Capitol Reef National Park
HC 70 Box 15
Torrey, Utah 84775
Telephone: (435)425-3791
E-Mail: care_superintendent@nps.gov

OPERATING HOURS AND SEASONS: The park and campgrounds are open year round. The Visitor Center is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with extended hours during the summer season.

CLIMATE: Summer temperatures often climb into the upper 90s (F), but nights cool down into the 50s (F) and 60s (F). The thunderstorm season from July through September brings cloudbursts, flash floods and lightning. Spring and fall are milder with highs generally in the 50s (F) and 60s (F). Daytime winter highs average less than 50 (F). Snowfall is usually light, especially at lower elevations. Humidity is low all year.

Capitol Reef National Park has an arid climate with precipitation averaging just 7.2 inches annually at the park Visitor Center weather station.

DIRECTIONS: The park is located in south-central Utah. From Green River, Utah, take Hwy 24 west through Hanksville; from Richfield, take Hwy 24 east through the communities of Loa, Lyman, Bicknell and Torrey.

TRANSPORTATION:
To Park: by personal vehicle or tour bus via Utah Hwy 24. Nearest commercial airports in Grand Junction, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah.

In Park: Personal vehicle, biking, hiking.

FEES: The fee for entering the Scenic Drive is $5. There is no charge for the Scenic Drive for holders of Golden Eagle, Golden Age or Golden Access passes. Campsites in the 70 site Fruita Campground are $10 per night and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Group Campground, on a reservation basis, is $3 per person per night with a minimum charge of $50.

FACILITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES: There are no lodging facilities in the park.

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES/PARK USE: The park is always open, but Visitor Center hours vary with the season. Activities include: Auto tours, interpretive exhibits and programs, picnicking, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking on established roads, and rock climbing.

RESERVATIONS / PERMITS: We take reservations for our group campground ONLY. Backcountry hiking permits are required for overnight stays in areas outside park campgrounds, and are free. These can be obtained at the park visitor center.

BASIC VISIT RECOMMENDATIONS:
• Drive along the western edge of the Waterpocket Fold.
• Hike to Hickman Bridge.
• See the Petroglyphs.
• Walk through the Historic Orchards of Fruita and pick fruit.
• Visit the Historic Gifford Farmhouse.

SPECIAL EVENTS / PROGRAMS:

Visitor Center Exhibits: Located at Utah Hwy 24, the visitor center museum offers an overview of park features and includes exhibits on geology, archeology, and history as well as a short orientation slide program. A variety of brochures, books, and maps are available for sale. Rangers are on duty to answer questions and provide information including travel and trail information, road conditions and weather updates.

Trails, Roadways: The park is a haven for backcountry hiking. Many trails are available for people of all abilities and time constraints. Capitol Reef also has a number of scenic roadways, many of them unpaved, that can be taken to all corners of the park. Please contact the Visitor Center to ask about specific trails and/or roads.

Programs, Activities: Summer walks, talks, and evening campfire programs. Kids, become a Junior Ranger or explore the park with a Family Fun Pack.

Lodging and Camping Facilities: The Fruita Campground contains 70 sites; 7 sites are for tents only. The remaining sites can accommodate RVs, but there are no hookups. There are also two primitive campgrounds, each with pit toilets, fire grates, and picnic tables (no water).

Although there are no lodging facilities in the park, there are surrounding cities with everything from lodging, private campgrounds with RV hookups, restaurants, and tour outfitters, to local attractions and events.

Food and Supplies: None inside the park. Convenience marts and grocery stores are located in Torrey, Bicknell, and Loa, west of the Visitor Center on Utah Hwy 24.

Harvest Homecoming: Held on a Friday in mid to late September, Harvest Homecoming celebrates the pioneer legacy and fruit harvest of Capitol Reef. Watch as traditional craftspeople demonstrate skills ranging from soapmaking to tinsmithing. Learn about Native American culture or hear stories of the Mormon pioneer settlement. Reenact a day in the life of a student at the Fruita schoolhouse. Come celebrate the crafts, skills and talents of turn of the century pioneers whose isolation required self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Contact the Visitor Center for the date and events schedule of Harvest Homecoming.

Visitor Safety: Capitol Reef is subject to flash flooding from late June through early October. Flash floods can leave you stranded in a canyon or on a backcountry road. Please check with the park’s automated phone system at 435-425-3791 for recorded messages on up-to-date weather and road conditions before you embark to the backcountry.

Photo Gallery

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park


Views in Canyonlands include thousands of feet down to the Green and Colorado Rivers, or thousands of feet up to red rock pinnacles, cliffs and spires. All of these views create the incredible beauty of Canyonlands, Utah’s largest national park. Canyonlands is world renowned for its four wheel drive vehicle, mountain bike routes and its white water rafting. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of the land in Canyonlands, carving flat layers of sedimentary rock into the landscape seen today.

Canyonlands National Park was established in 1964, “…to preserve an area…possessing superlative scenic, scientific and archaeological features for the inspiration, benefit and use of the public.” (Public Law 88-590, 1964). The Green and Colorado River have sliced Canyonlands National Park into three districts, each named according to its distinctive landscape. Island in the Sky is the northern section and visitors can look down to the Colorado River on the east and down to the Green River on the west. The “Island’s” southern tip overlooks the rivers’ confluence. The Needles District is named for its profusion of red rock spires and fins. The remote Maze District is Canyonlands’ most jumbled stone playground, requiring backcountry use permits year-round. Major entrances to the park are accessible from US-191, 22 miles north of Monticello (Needles), and 35 miles northwest of Moab (Island in the Sky). Canyonlands National Park was expanded to its current size in 1971.

Visitor centers are open year-round with reduced hours in the winter. A reservations office is open Mon-Fri and accepts applications for backpacking permits, four-wheel-drive campsites, same-day use in the Needles District, and group campsites. Fees are charged for reservation-only areas and for backcountry permits.

History

Canyonlands National Park is located in southeastern Utah with the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers located near the center of the park. The area had been promoted during the 1930s for inclusion into the park system as part of a much larger Escalante National Monument. However, that effort did not succeed, and in 1961 Utah Senator Frank Moss introduced legislation in the United States Senate calling for the establishment of Canyonlands National Park. After considerable opposition within the state, the legislation was passed and on 12 September 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the act making Canyonlands the thirty-second national park. The park is the largest of Utah’s five national parks, with a total of 337,258 acres. It is known for its rivers, canyons, mesas, pillars, standing rocks, grabens, and arches. All the rocks in Canyonlands are sedimentary.

Canyonlands was home to the Fremont people and the Anasazi. The Fremont people left records in the form of pictographs and petroglyphs in Horseshoe Canyon and Salt Canyon. The Anasazi built several granaries, like Keyhole Ruin, probably in the twelfth century. Ute and Navajo Indians subsequently occupied the canyons until the late 1800s. They were eventually pushed out of the area by cattlemen. In 1869 and 1871 John Wesley Powell explored the Green and Colorado rivers as they traveled through Canyonlands. Today, the park is divided into three districts, Island in the Sky, Needles, and Maze-Standing Rock.

Island in the Sky is the northernmost district. It is a high and extensive mesa located in the area between the Green and Colorado rivers. Some of the popular attractions in this area are Upheaval Dome, Shafer and White Rim Trails, Grand View Point, and Monument Canyon.

Needles, or the southern district, is the area east of the Colorado River. Angel Arch, Druid Arch, Paul Bunyans Potty, the Grabens, Elephant Hill, and Needles are common attractions. This area contains most of the artifacts from the Fremont people and the Anasazi in Salt, Davis, and Lavender Canyons.

The Maze-Standing Rocks District is located west of the Colorado River after its confluence with the Green River. This section is known for Elaterite Basin, Elaterite Butte, the Maze, Standing Rocks, the Doll House, the Fins, and Ernies Country.

The Canyonlands districts are not connected by inner roads. Visitors must leave the park to enter another district. In several areas, the park is not developed, and many of the sites can be seen only by hiking. Headquarters for the park is in Moab, with visitor centers located in each of the three districts.

Stephanie M. Kawamura

Park Information

Established: September 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson

Preservation: Committed to saving many endangered species both plant and animal alike.

Plant Species: Limited desert plant life

Animal Species: Limited endangered species

Hiking Trails: Several well rated hiking trails

VISITATION: Highest in spring and fall.

LOCATION: Southeast Utah

Address: Canyonlands National Park, 2282 S. West Resource Blvd., Moab, UT 84532-3298

Telephone: (435) 719-2313. Backcountry Reservations: (435) 259-4351

OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS: Visitor centers are open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours during spring and fall. Visitor centers are closed on some federal holidays.

CLIMATE, RECOMMENDED CLOTHING: The climate in Canyonlands is extremely dry. Most precipitation falls in early spring and late summer. Summer highs often exceed 100 Degrees Fahrenheit, with lows in the 60’s. Fall and Spring temperatures are milder, with highs in the 70’s and 80’s. Winter temperatures range from highs in the 40’s and 50’s to lows well below freezing.

DIRECTIONS: Canyonlands is divided into three land districts which are two to six hours apart by car.

Needles District: From U.S. 191, take Utah 211 west to the Needles.

Island in the Sky District: From US 191, take Utah 313 south to the Island.

Maze District: From Utah 24, take a graded dirt road east to the Hans Flat Ranger Station.

TRANSPORTATION: To Park: Commercial airlines serve Grand Junction, CO and Salt Lake City. From Salt Lake City, a commuter airline serves Moab. Nationwide bus service is available to Green River (fifty miles from Moab) and Crescent Junction (thirty miles away). Amtrak services Green River and Grand Junction, CO. Taxi and shuttle services can be arranged from these locations.

FEES, COSTS, RATES: Fees are $10 for private vehicles, $5 for individuals (good for seven days). Golden Age, Eagle, and Access passes are available and honored. Commercial Tours and Educational Groups fee information call (435) 719-2313.

FACILITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES:

Visitor Center/Exhibits
Island in the Sky District
The Island in the Sky Visitor Center is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily (except December 25th), with extended hours spring through fall. Exhibits, publications and information are available, and a park orientation video may be viewed. Bottled water is available for sale at the visitor center. No water is available elsewhere; bring all that you will need.

Maze District
The Hans Flat Ranger Station is open year-round from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is a small sales area with books and maps. There are no amenities like food or gas, no entrance fees and no potable water sources in the Maze District.

Needles District
The Needles District Visitor Center is open year-round from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except December 25th), with extended hours March through October. Exhibits, publications and information are available, and a park orientation video may be viewed. Water is available.

Trails, Roads: Canyonlands has hundreds of miles of backcountry roads and trails. Backcountry permits are required for overnight use and are limited in number. Reservations are recommended.

Lodging: There is no lodging in Canyonlands National Park. Overnight accommodations are available in the nearby towns of Hanksville, Green River, Moab and Monticello.

Camping facilities:Individual camping sites for ten or fewer people are first-come, first-served.

Needles District: Squaw Flat Campground is an ideal base camp for day hikes to popular destinations like Chesler Park, Druid Arch and the Joint Trail. There are 26 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bathrooms, fire grates, picnic tables, tent pads and water available year-round. Group size limit is 10 people and 2 vehicles. Maximum RV length is 28 feet. Fee is $10 per night. Squaw Flat typically fills every day from late March through June and again from early September to mid-October.

Island in the Sky District: Willow Flat Campground is a short walk from one of the finest sunset spots in the park: Green River Overlook. Twelve sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Sites include picnic tables, fire grates and vault toilets. No water. Maximum RV length is 28 feet. Group size limit is 10 people and 2 vehicles. Fee is $5 per night. Willow Flat typically fills every day from late March through June and again from early September to mid-October.

Group Campsites: The Needles District offers three campsites for groups of 11 or more people which may be reserved in advance. The Squaw Flat Group Site can hold up to 50 people and 10 vehicles. The Wooden Shoe Group Site can hold up to 25 people and 5 vehicles. The Split Top Group Site can hold up to 15 people and 3 vehicles. Nightly fees are $3 per person.

Food/supplies: There are no services within Canyonlands. Gas, food and other items are available in nearby towns.

Accessibility: At the Island in the Sky, visitors with mobility impairments can access the visitor center and restrooms, Buck Canyon Overlook and Grand View Point Overlook. In the Needles District, visitors with mobility impairments can access the visitor center and restrooms, Squaw Flat Campground and restrooms and Wooden Shoe Overlook. Other points of interest are accessible with some assistance.

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES/PARK USE: Canyonlands is primarily a backcountry destination. Visitors come to the park for sightseeing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, four-wheel driving, and river running. Each district retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration. The Island in the Sky offers expansive views from many overlooks, short hiking trails, and is the easiest to visit in a short period of time. The Needles offers more of a backcountry experience, requiring some hiking or four-wheel driving to see the area’s attractions. The Maze is entirely a backcountry area which requires a good deal of hiking and/or four-wheel driving over rough terrain and considerably more time to visit.

Geology

Geologic processes have played the most important part in shaping the desert ecosystem of Canyonlands. The arid climate and sparse vegetation allow the exposure of large expanses of bare rock, while the deep canyons of the Colorado and Green Rivers reveal 300 million years of geologic history.

The Evolution of Canyons
Canyonlands is located within a geologic region called the Colorado Plateau. For millions of years, water and wind deposited materials from a variety of environments onto what is now the Colorado Plateau. The area was repeatedly flooded and then dried by intense sun and wind, and the remains of these ancient seas and deserts were slowly compressed into layers of sedimentary rock. Massive geologic uplifts to the east and north brought torrents of mountain rain and snowmelt, carving the deeply incised river channels of the Green and Colorado rivers. Water from nearby mountain ranges like the Abajos, La Sals, and Henrys drains into these rivers, eroding the landscape further into a network of tributary canyons.

Other Formations
Most of the rock stata around Canyonlands are flat. However, massive folds and faults in the land resulted from a thick layer of salt that shifted under the weight of the overlying sandstone. In many places, this movement caused the surface rock to fracture or collapse downward, forming “synclines” and “anticlines” (see glossary). Over time, flash floods and the action of water freezing and thawing enlarged these fractures and eroded the sandstone features into the landscape seen today.

Canyonlands Cliff Profile
Many cliffs in the Canyonlands basin show classic profiles which can be seen throughout the southwest. The layers were formed out of a variety of materials during different periods of geologic time. When and how the layers were deposited has great bearing on how they look today. The layers are listed here in descending order (going back in time). See: Cliff Profile

Desert Varnish
Desert varnish is the thin red to black coating found on exposed rock surfaces in arid regions. Varnish is composed of clay minerals, oxides and hydroxides of manganese and/or iron, as well as other particles such as sand grains and trace elements. The distinctive elements are Manganese (Mn) and Iron (Fe). See: Desert Varnish

The Needles
About ten million years ago, the Colorado Plateau was pushed up thousands of feet and rivers, such as the Colorado and the Green, cut down and carved deep canyons. Water, the primary force of erosion, eats away or weathers rock by attacking the cement holding the sand grains together. Moreover, during storms, rushing water knocks loose sand and rocks as it flows down washes causing additional erosion. The water naturally acts faster on areas of weakness within the rock, such as fractures and cracks. The Needles occur in an area with many fractures called joints.
See: Needles

Upheaval Dome
Canyonlands is a place of relative geologic order. Layers of sedimentary deposits systematically record chapters in the park’s past. With some exceptions, these layers have not been altered, tilted or folded significantly in the millions of years since they were laid down by ancient seas rivers or winds.
See: Upheaval Dome

Wildlife

The female northern bald eagle is larger than the male, averaging 10 to 14 pounds. Males generally weigh 8 to 10 1/2 pounds. The size difference allows the pair to exploit different size prey. The bald eagle stands 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall with an impressive 6 l/2 to 7 1/2-foot wingspan. Their keen eyesight is eight times more powerful than a human’s. The bright yellow feet of adults are strong, unfeathered and equipped with long, sharp, black talons for penetrating and grasping prey. The powerful, bright yellow, hooked bill is used for tearing and dismembering prey. The adult bald eagle is unmistakable, its white head and tail contrasting sharply with its dark body. However, a bald eagle in its first four years of life is predominantly dark brown with varying amounts of white, especially on its undersurface, and immature bald eagles are often mistaken for golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos).

Mule Deer Desert mule deer, also known as “black-tail deer”, are found in rugged, desert regions of western North America, including the Texas Panhandle and western portions of the state. They are closely related to the Rocky Mountain subspecies, which inhabits mountainous wooded areas. Distinctive features of mule deer are a black-tipped tail, white rump patch, and erect, nine-inch-long ears. Their hide is rusty brown in the summer, and gray in winter, with white undersides year-round.

Bighorn Sheep largest and best-known wild sheep of the North American continent, also called Rocky Mountain sheep. Bighorn sheep have large, curved horns, which may take more than one turn. Their coat is long, full, and coarse. Except during the short mating season, bighorns generally divide into separate male and female herds. They leap at great speed; grip slippery surfaces with shock-absorbing, elastic padded feet; and have acute senses of sight, smell, and hearing.

Western Rattlesnake Western Diamondbacks can attain a length of seven feet, but the average size is between three and four feet. The rattle is the most distinguishing feature of the snake, and is a horny section at the end of the tail, which serves to scare off intruders. After each molt, the rattle of the snake will gain a new section in the rattle. However, adequate information about the age of the rattlesnake cannot be determined by counting the sections of the rattle, as it may have been broken or the snake may have shed more than once a year.

Hiking

There are extensive hiking trails in the park, providing opportunities for short walks, half or full-day hikes, or week-long backpacking trips. See district descriptions and maps for more details. Lack of water is a limiting factor, and hikers may have to carry their own supply. Pets are not allowed on hiking trails. Permits are required for all overnight trips, and advance reservations are recommended. No permit is required for day hiking.

The park is broken up into three different districts. Each one has it own unique features.

Island in the Sky has the most trails that are readily available for visitors. There are several hikes in the Island in the Sky, which have several degrees of difficulties. For more trails see the visitors center.

Mesa Arch Loop Trail
• Trail description: loose rock
• Estimated time: 1/2 mile, 30 min round trip
• Level of difficulty: easy
This hike takes you through the La Sal Mountains showing hikers the beauty of the mountain pinon and juniper woodland.

Upheaval Dome Overlook Trail
• Trail description: loose rocks, steep inclines
• Estimated time: 1 mile, 45 min. round trip
• Level of difficulty: medium
This trail offers a look at, what some geologists believe, to be the most abnormal geological feature in the world.

Grand View Trail
• Trail description: next to the rim of a cliff
• Estimated time: 2 miles, 1 1/2 round trip
• Level of difficulty: easy
One of the most popular hikes because of the awesome view from the Grand View Overlook.

Neck Spring Loop Trail
• Trail description: Sandy
• Estimated time: 5 miles, 2-4 hours round trip
• Level of difficulty: medium
This trail is offers a wonderful view of the Canyonlands.

Canyonlands Needles. Most of this part of the park is reachable only by foot, amazing since this is the most developed part of the park. For more trails see the visitors center.

Cave Spring
• Trail description: slickrock
• Estimated time: 6 miles, 45 minute round trip
• Level of difficulty: easy
Amazing remnants of the 1800’s cowboy line camp and some fascinating plant life.

Slickrock Foot Trail
• Trail description: deep sand and slickrock
• Estimated time: 2-4 miles, 2-3 hours round trip
• Level of difficulty: medium
Long panoramic view of the park

Angel Arch Backcountry Trail
• Trail description: hard surface
• Estimated time: Little over a mile, 30 minutes round trip
• Level of difficulty: easy
This trail leads to the symbol of Canyonlands, Angel Arch.

Confluence Overlook
• Trail description: wide open with little tree cover
• Estimated time: 5.5 miles, 4-6 hours round trip
• Level of difficulty: medium
Shows an awesome view of the confluence of the Green and Colorado River

Canyonlands Maze. This part of the park is only accessible by four wheel drive roads and hiking trails making this the most natural of the areas in the park. For more trails see the visitors center.

Colorado / Green River Overlook Trail
• Trail description: slickrock
• Estimated time: 5 miles
• Level of difficulty: easy
Amazing scenery of the Standing Rock.

Spanish Bottoms Trail
• Trail description: no trees and has a steep upgrade
• Estimated time: little over a mile
• Level of difficulty: medium
Takes you to Standing Rocks just above the Cataract Canyon.

Horseshoe Canyon
• Trail description: Offers rock art from 2000 years ago
• Estimated time: 6 1/2 miles, 1 day
• Level of difficulty: easy
Horseshoe is a separate trail from canyonlands.

North Trail Canyon
• Trail description: Steep
• Estimated time: 14 miles, all day
• Level of difficulty: medium
At the pinnacle of this hike you get to see the harvest scene when you pass through the White Rim pillars.

Safety Concerns. Fragile desert plants and soils are damaged easily by off-road hiking and riding. Please do not disturb the black crusts on top of the soil. These ‘cryptobiotic crusts’ are living plants and protect the desert from erosion. Leave your bike along the road while hiking to viewpoints. Do not ride off-road to avoid sand or mud.

Mountain bike riding in a national park requires extra care to protect you and the natural and cultural features. All routes are on existing unpaved and four wheel drive roads. Riding on foot trails, closed roads or cross-country is prohibited. Pets may not accompany bicycles. Up-to-date information on weather, water availability and road conditions can mean the difference between life and death. Stop at a visitor center, ranger station or park office for current information.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park


Thousands of delicately-carved spires, called ‘hoodoos’ rise in brilliant color from the amphitheaters of Bryce Canyon National Park. Millions of years of wind, water and geologic mayhem have shaped and etched the pink cliffs of Bryce, which is not actually a canyon, but the eastern escarpment of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The most brilliant hues of Bryce Canyon come alive with the rising and setting of the sun.

Visitors may take a 37-mile round-trip drive to Bryce Canyon’s most famous viewpoints, including Sunrise, Sunset, Rainbow, Yovimpa, and Inspiration Points. There are many walking and hiking trails along the rim and towards the bottom of the canyon. Horseback tours are available. During the winter months, Bryce Canyon and the surrounding mesas are popular with cross-country skiers, and snowshoes area available at the visitor center with no charge for both children and adults and a first-come, first serve basis. Bryce Canyon National Park is 24 miles southeast of Panguitch. The visitor center is open year round. For more information about Bryce Canyon National Park be sure to get your Bryce Canyon Travel Packet! Find lodging in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Fishing

Discover trout fishing at its best in Bryce Canyon Country and our many lakes, reservoirs, and streams with the surrounding scenery as beautiful and diverse as the fisheries themselves. With low-lying streams, large lakes surrounded by forests and clear mountain lakes, there will be plenty of opportunities to catch your limit of rainbow, brook, cutthroat or German brown trout. With scenery and fishing this amazing, we are proud of our area. Please do your part in helping preserve and protect the land waters. Use the same courtesy outside of the park as you would inside, doing this, the wildlife will be here for everyone to enjoy year after year.

Rules and Regulations

Anyone 14 years of age or older must purchase a fishing license and Wildlife Habitat Authorization, keep the license with you whenever you are fishing; anyone 13 years of age or younger does not need a license
General season dates are Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 24 hours each day for fish and crayfish
Game fish are: trout(rainbow, albino, cutthroat, brown, golden, brook, tiger, lake or mackinaw, splake), kokanee salmon, grayling, whitefish, Bonneville cisco, crappie, yellow perch, Sacramento perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bullhead, bluegill, green sunfish, northern pike, walleye, white bass, tiger muskellunge, striped bass, and wiper
Bag and possession limits apply to everyone; any person 13 years of age or under can catch only half of the limit
Check the Utah Fishing Proclamation for further details on the rules and regulations

Popular Fishing Spots
• Panguitch Lake
• Otter Creek Res.
• Tropic Reservoir
• Pine Lake
• Wide Hollow Reservoir
• Posey Lake
• Barker Reservoir

Bryce Canyon

• Lake Powell
• Sevier River
• Asay Creek
• Mammoth Creek
• Panguitch Creek
• Bunker Creek
• Deer Creek
• Butler Creek

Ice Fishing is some of the best fishing you will ever do in Bryce Canyon Country. Come see Bryce Canyon National Park when there are fewer people and the park is at its most colorful. Then when you have seen the park take a nice relaxing fishing trip. Sounds strange? Winter is one of the most popular times to fish in all of Utah! Come prepared for the cold and check the ice before you start and you will have a great time.

Surrounding Towns

Cedar City: Known as the Festival City, Cedar City is home so Southern Utah University, the Utah Shakespearean Festival and The Utah Summer Games.
Cedar City was first settled by Mormon pioneers sent to the area to mine iron. After the iron was depleted, they continued to stay and built the beautiful community that still stands. Cedar City received authorization for a state school in May of 1897 and started their first year that fall. The name of the institution may have changed over the years, but the quality of education has increased.
The Utah Shakespearean Festival is world renowned and you will agree when you see your first Shakespearean play in the outdoor Adams Shakespearean Theatre. You will also thrill at the contemporary plays selected each year.
While you are enjoy the festival and the quiet community, take an event at the Utah Summer Games. Held each year in Cedar City, the Utah Summer Games bring out the best athletes in the State. Here they compete more for pride than for anything.

Bryce Canyon St. George: The city was first started when Brigham Young, leader of the Mormon church, sent Jacob Hamblin to southern Utah as a missionary to the local Indians in 1854. During the civil war obtaining cotton was nearly impossible so Brigham Young sent 309 families to the St. George area to grow cotton and other products conducive to the climate such as silk, dried fruit, molasses and pecans. Because of the products coming from St. George and because many of the families sent to settle the area were originally from the southern States, the area became known as “Dixie” and the name continues today as “Utah’s Dixie”.
In 1908, the residents of St. George expressed their desire for higher education and plans were made with church officials to start an academy of learning in the community. On September 19, 1911, the college opened under the name of St. George Stake Academy. Over the years the names changed, in 1916 it became Dixie Normal College, in 1923 it was Dixie Junior College and finally in 1970, it became Dixie College. It had a long struggle to become a State college. Now it is constantly ranked in the top ten or twenty in the NJCAA for basketball, football and baseball.
With a population of 50,000+ and growing, St. George is one of the fastest growing communities in the country. In 1994, St. George had ten golf courses, sixteen movie theaters, more than forty motels/hotels, many tennis courts and more. Come visit the fastest growing community in Utah.

Kanab: Established by Mormon pioneers in 1870, Kanab is the largest town in Kane County. It started as a ranching town, but throughout the century, Kanab has turned into “Utah’s Little Hollywood”. Located within a short driving distance of some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, Kanab is the recreational and commercial center for south central Utah and the Arizona Strip. You will find a perfect blend of small town hospitality with the conveniences of the large towns.

Bryce Canyon Tropic: In 1874, a few pioneers heard about the Paria valley from Native Americans. It sounded like a good place to live with a favorable climate, extensive grazing and arable land, water, timber and coal. The pioneers settled near the Paria River and in the next 10 years several villages sprung up. Only Cannonville and Henrieville survived; Clifton, Losee and Georgetown all become ghost towns. Cannonville was settled in the early 1880’s with about 200 families, and Henrieville was settled with people from the area. Both towns ere named for Mormon counselors. The town of Tropic was founded in 1892 and incorporated in 1902. Tropic was home to Ebenezer Bryce, namesake of Bryce Canyon. These three communities make up what is now called Bryce Valley.

Hatch: The quaint town of Hatch is located 15 miles south of Panguitch on US 89. Stop at the visitor center south of town for local information. The first town site, called Aaron or Asay, was established in 1872 near the mouth of Asay Creek. Later these families joined others along the Sevier River and founded the old town of Hatchtown.
After severe floods and the breaking of the reservoir, the town was again moved to its present site and named Hatch, after a pioneer family. Mammoth and Asay Creeks are the headwaters of the Sevier River. The creeks are stocked with rainbow, German brown and cutthroat trout and offer excellent fishing, but check locally because some of the streams run through private land. The Sevier River is also stocked and the area around Hatch has the best fishing on the river.

Geology

Our dynamic planet is constantly being shaped and reshaped by dramatic events such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and mudslides. Other changes may not be detected in a human lifetime. Geological time spans or Periods cover millions of years. The Cretaceous Period began some 144 million years ago and lasted until about 63 million years ago. The rock formations you see exposed at Bryce Canyon began to develop during this time. For 60 million years a great seaway extended northwestward into this area, depositing sediments of varying thickness and composition as it repeatedly invaded, retreated, then re-invaded the region. Retreating to the southeast, it left sediments thousands of feet thick. Their remnants form the oldest, lowest, gray-brown rocks at Bryce Canyon.

In the Tertiary Period, between 66 and 40 million years ago, highlands to the west eroded into shallow, broad basins. Iron-rich, limy sediments were deposited in the beds of a series of lakes and streams. These became the reddish rocks of the Claron Formation from which the hoodoos are carved and for which the Pink Cliffs are named.

The Cretaceous Seaway moved northward from the Gulf of Mexico into this region of North America. Sediments deposited as the sea invaded and retreated became the brown and gray marine rocks now exposed at the park’s lowest elevations and across the Paria Valley.

Deformation, Uplift, and the Grand Staircase
Horizontal compression related to the formation of the Rocky Mountains deformed these rocks. Then volcanic flows from the north covered parts of the region: black rocks at the mouth of nearby Red Canyon and on the Sevier Plateau to the north still protect softer underlying layers. About 10 million years ago the Earth pulled apart, moving and tilting great blocks along north-south trending fault lines. Layers, once connected, were displaced vertically by several thousand feet, forming the High Plateaus of Utah.

Older Cretaceous layers rested side by side with younger Tertiary layers across fault lines. Streams began to remove sediments deposited by their ancestors. Working on the weakened edges of the upthrown blocks, water gradually removed the uppermost Tertiary layers and exposed Cretaceous rocks once again. Now these drab former marine sediments lay on the surface of the land side by side with the brightly colored deposits of freshwater lakes and streams.

Differential Erosion
Water erodes rock mechanically and chemically. Scouring, abrading, and gullying occur when fast-moving water scrapes its silt, gravel, and rock debris against firmer bedrock. Slow-moving or standing water enters minute rock pores and dissolves cements holding the rock together. This leaves loose grains to wash away. Softer Cretaceous rocks were loosened and carried away from the upthrown block by the Paria River. The resulting Paria Valley is carved out of rocks that lie deep beneath the Paunsaugunt Plateau, whose edge now is exposed to erosion.

Along the plateau rim, conditions are optimal for erosion. Its steep slope increases water speed and energy. Faults and joints from ancient compressional forces influence erosion patterns. Freezing and thawing loosen slope surfaces. Debris carried by runoff, scours softer rock and creates gullies; harder rock remains as fins.

As gullies widen to canyons, fins become exposed to further erosion along vertical cracks. In winter, freezing water expands within cracks to peel off layers and carve vertical columns.

Hoodoos Cast Their Spell
Hoodoo – a pillar of rock, usually of fantastic shape, left by erosion.
Hoodoo – to cast a spell.

Bryce CanyonAt Bryce Canyon National Park erosion forms a remarkable array of fantastic shapes we know as hoodoos. Surrounded by the beauty of southern Utah, these hoodoos cast their spell on all who visit. Geologists say that ten million years ago forces within the Earth created and then moved the massive blocks we know as the Aquarius and Paunsaugunt plateaus. Rock layers on the Aquarius now tower 2,000 feet above the same layers on the Paunsaugunt. Ancient rivers carved the tops and exposed edges of these blocks, removing some layers and sculpting intricate formations in others. The Paria Valley was created and later widened between the plateaus.

The Paria River and its many tributaries continue to carve the plateau edges. Rushing waters carrying dirt and gravel gully the edges and steep slopes of the Paunsaugunt Plateau on which Bryce Canyon National Park lies. With time, tall thin ridges called fins emerge. Fins further erode into pinnacles and spires called hoodoos. These in turn weaken and fall, adding their bright colors to the hills below.

Early Native Americans left little to tell us of their use of the plateaus. We know that people have been in the Colorado Plateau region for about 12,000 years, but only random fragments of worked stone tell of their presence near Bryce Canyon. Artifacts tell a more detailed story of use at lower elevations beyond the park’s boundary. Both Anasazi and Fremont influences are found near the park. The people of each culture left bits of a puzzle to be pieced together by present and future archaeologists. Paiutes lived in the region when Euro-Americans arrived in southern Utah. Paiutes explained the colorful hoodoos as “Legend People” who were turned to stone by Coyote.

The Paiutes were living throughout the area when Capt. Clarence E. Dutton explored here with John Wesley Powell in the 1870s. Many of today’s place names come from this time. Dutton’s report gave the name Pink Cliffs to the Claron Formation. Other names — Paunsaugunt, place or home of the beavers; Paria, muddy water or elk water; Panguitch, water or fish; and Yovimpa, point of pines— were derived from the Paiute language.

The Paiutes were displaced by emissaries of the LDS Church who developed the many small communities throughout Utah. Ebenezer Bryce aided in the settlement of southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. In 1875 he came to the Paria Valley to live and harvest timber from the plateau. Neighbors called the canyon behind his home Bryce’s Canyon. Today it remains the name not only of one canyon but also of a national park.

Shortly after 1900, visitors were coming to see the colorful geologic sights, and the first Hotels – Motels were built along the Paunsaugunt Plateau rim above Bryce’s Canyon. By 1920 efforts were started to set aside these scenic wonders. In 1923 President Warren G. Harding proclaimed part of the area as Bryce Canyon National Monument under the Powell (now Dixie) National Forest. In 1924 legislation was passed to establish the area as Utah National Park, but the provisions of this legislation were not met until 1928. Legislation was passed that year to change the name of the new park to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Each year the park is visited by more than 1.5 million visitors from all over the world. Languages as varied as the shapes and colors of the hoodoos express pleasure in the sights. Open all year, the park offers recreational opportunities in each season. Hiking, sightseeing, and photography are the most popular summer activities. Spring and fall months offer greater solitude. In the winter months, quiet combines with the area’s best air quality for unparalleled views and serenity beyond compare. In all seasons fantastic shapes cast their spell to remind us of what we protect here in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Hiking

The park has over 50 miles of hiking trails with a range of distances and elevation change. Assess your ability and know your limits. Use caution if unaccustomed to the high altitude.

Day Hikes: The easiest trail is the 1/2-mile (one way) section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points. Other sections of the Rim Trail (which extends 5.5 miles between Fairyland and Bryce Points) have steeper terrain. The Fairyland Loop (8 miles round trip), Peekaboo Loop (4.8 or 5.5 miles round trip), Queen’s Garden (1.7 miles round trip) and Navajo Loop (1.5 miles round trip) trails wind down through the rock formations along steep grades. The Peekaboo Loop Trail also serves as a horse trail.

Backcountry: The Under-the-Rim Trail extends 23 miles from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point and has eight backcountry campsites. The Riggs Spring Loop Trail (8.8 miles round trip) from Yovimpa Point has four backcountry sites. Both trails drop below the rim of the plateau and lead through forested areas. A backcountry permit is required for all overnight hiking. Permits are available at the Visitor Center for $5.

Permits must be obtained in person and are issued at the park visitor center from 8:00 a.m. until two hours before sunset. No phone or email reservations will be accepted. In person reservation can be made up to 48 hrs. in advance. Park staff reserves the right to refuse permits to parties that fail to demonstrate the necessary preparedness that Bryce Canyon’s high and dry backcountry demands.

Trails

Rim Trail: An easy hike, the rim trail starts at either Bryce or Fairyland points. It is 5.5 miles from one point to another, taking a maximum of 5 or 6 hours to complete the 11 mile round trip. If that is too long for you, you may jump on the trail at one of the other points that connects to the rim trail. This trail will provide you some spectacular views of the magnificent hoodoos in the Bryce Amphitheater.

Fairyland Loop: A moderate hike, you may start your hike through the Fairyland Loop at either Fairyland or just north of Sunrise Point. It covers eight miles, taking around four to five hours to complete. This trail tends to be less crowded than the trails through the Bryce Amphitheater. Along the way, you will pass such attractions as the Tower Bridge, and the Chinese Wall.

Peekaboo Loop: A steep hike, the Peekaboo Loop trail passes the Wall of Windows and the Three Wiseman. It is 5-7 miles, depending on the entrance you use. You can enter from Bryce Point via the Under-the-rim trail, Sunrise Point via the Queens Garden trail, or Sunset Point, via the Navajo Loop trail.. The hike should take around three or four hours. The Peekaboo Loop trail also serves as a horse trail.

Tower Bridge: A piece of the Fairyland Trail, this hike will take you to see the Tower Bridge, named after its resemblance to one of the Thames bridges in London. The hike is 3 miles long and will take you two or three hours to complete.

Queens Garden: A moderate hike, the Queens Garden trail is the easiest way to get down into the Amphitheater. Formations in the bottom resemble Queen Victoria, hence its name. It is 1.8 miles long, and it should take you around one to two hours. You can get to it via Sunrise Point.

Navajo Loop: This moderate hike will take you down into Wall Street, an extremely narrow canyon where tall trees mingle amongst the hoodoos, via switchbacks. The hike is 1.4 miles and takes one or two hours to complete. You can get to it via Sunset Point.

Trail to the Hat Shop: This trail will take you to the Hat Shop, a collection of hard gray caps balanced on smaller pillars of rock. The trail, which starts at Bryce Point, is 3.8 miles long and will take you three to four hours to complete.

Bristlecone Loop: A very easy trail, this trail is one of the most popular at Bryce Canyon. It is an easy way to catch the beauty of Bryce Canyon without having to do the difficult hiking. Along the way, you will encounter bristlecone pines, some that are 1,700 years old! The trail is one mile long and takes only about half an hour to complete. It begins at Rainbow Point.

History

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah on the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in Garfield County. Settlement of the area began in 1874. Ebenezer Bryce moved from Pine Valley and settled a site near the mouth of Bryce Canyon in 1875. Bryce used the now famous canyon as a cattle range, and it was given his name as early as 1876.

Bryce Canyon is a series of natural amphitheaters below which stands an array of white and orange limestone columns and walls sculptured by erosion. The erosion has been accomplished mainly by rain, snow, and frost prying off cliff fragments rather than by stream erosion. Nearby streams actually flow away from the canyon. The high rim country of the park is part forest dominated by fir, pine, and aspen, and part meadows of grass and sage. At lower, drier altitudes, pinon pine and Utah juniper predominate.

Geologically, the rocks of the canyon are among the youngest of the Colorado Plateau. Despite the fragile nature of the environment, there are many miles of foot and horse trails below the rim. A twenty-mile paved highway runs along the edge of the rim. Overlooks provide magnificent views of the natural structures carved by erosion into fanciful forms that glow in delicate and varied colors.

Bryce Canyon awaited promotion and development before its full tourism potential could be realized. National Forest Supervisor J. W. Humphrey was transferred from the La Sal National Forest to the Powell National Forest on 1 July 1915. He was amazed at the beauty and grandeur of Bryce and resolved to do all he could to promote it and make it accessible. He took visiting dignitaries to Bryce and secured funds for a passable road to the canyon rim. In 1916 Arthur W. Stevens of the Forest Service wrote an illustrated article for the Union Pacific railroad tourist magazine. J. W. Humphrey wrote a similar article for the Rio Grande railroad. These were the first descriptive articles published about Bryce Canyon. In the meantime, moving pictures and postcards began circulating and Bryce began to attract visitors from all parts of the nation.

In 1919 the Utah state legislature asked Congress to create Bryce National Monument, which was done in 1923. The Union Pacific railroad acquired a state school section on the rim and began developing campgrounds, cabins, a lodge, and improved access to the Canyon. In 1928 Bryce Canyon was removed from Forest Service jurisdiction and made Bryce Canyon National Park. Later 12,000 additional acres were added to create what is now a 37,277-acre park that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from throughout the world to marvel at its unique beauty.

Park Information

Visitation is highest from June to September and the Park receives close to 1.75 million visitors annually.

Location. Bryce Canyon is located northeast of Zion Canyon on U.S. 89. Take Route 12 east to Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce is 86 miles from Zion National Park.
Address
Bryce Canyon National Park
P.O. Box 170001
Bryce Canyon, Utah 84717-0001
Telephone- 435-834-5322

Park Entrances. From north or south on US 89: Turn east on Utah 12 and travel to junction of Utah 12 and 63. Turn south (right) on Utah 63 and travel 3 miles to reach park entrance. East Entrance: west on Utah 12 to the intersection of Utah 63. Turn south to reach park entrance.

Entrance Fees

  • An Individual Pass: $10 for 7 Days. (Includes free and unlimited use of park shuttles in summer months)This entrance fee applies to motorcycles, bicyclists, or individuals traveling on foot
  • Bryce Canyon Entrance Fee: $20 for 7 Days. (Includes free and unlimited use of park shuttles in summer months). This fee covers all occupants of a private vehicle (non-commercial)
  • Commercial Tours (Bus – large 26+ seats): $150 One Time. This entrance fee applies to commercial tour buses. NOTE: Group size is determined on vehicle seating capacity not # of actual people.
  • Commercial Tours (Bus – small 16-25 seats): $60 One Time.
    This entrance fee applies to commercial tour buses. NOTE: Group size is determined on vehicle seating capacity not # of actual people.
  • Commercial Tours (Passenger Van 7-15 seats): $50 One Time. This entrance fee applies to commerical tours traveling in vans and is a per vehicle fee. NOTE: Group size is determined on vehicle seating capacity not # of actual people.
  • Commercial Tours (Passenger Vehicle 1-6 seats): $25 + $5/person One Time. This entrance fee applies to small commerical tours. NOTE: Group size is determined on vehicle seating capacity not # of actual people.

National Parks Pass: The National Parks Pass is an annual pass that provides admission to any national park charging an entrance fee. The pass costs $50 and is valid for one full year from first use in a park.

Golden Eagle Passport: For an additional $15, a Golden Eagle hologram may be purchased and affixed to a National Parks Pass to cover entrance fees at not only national parks, but also at sites managed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U. S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. The Golden Eagle holograms are available at National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management fee stations.

Golden Age Passport: $10 one time charge for US citizens or residents age 62 or older. The Golden Age Passport is a lifetime entrance pass to national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, and national wildlife refuges that charge an entrance fee.

Golden Access Passport: Free for disabled US citizens or residents. These passports are available at the visitor center.

All other passports are available at the Entrance Station to the park.

Reservations and Permits. Park Campsites are first-come, first served, except for the group site which is by reservation only. Reservations are recommended for the Bryce Canyon Lodge.

A $5 permit is required for overnight backcountry camping. This is a flat fee (regardless of # of people or # of nights) that is required for overnight backcountry camping. This permit can only be obtained in person at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center

Operating Hours. The visitor center is open all year from 8am to 8pm (seasonally variable). Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The park is open 24 hours per day through out the year. There may be temporary road closures during and shortly after winter snow storms until plowing is completed and conditions are safe for visitor traffic. Road maintenance may require brief closures of individual areas at other times.

Transportation

Plane: Regular commercial flights serve Cedar City (87 miles), St George (150 miles) and Salt Lake City (270 miles), Utah, as well as Las Vegas, Nevada (270 miles).

The Bryce Canyon Airport (4 miles), operated by Garfield Country, has commercial flights from Las Vegas. Phone: (435)834-5239 for current carriers and schedules Private planes are welcome at this uncontrolled airport.

Car: From the north or south on US Hwy 89: Turn east on Utah Hwy 12 (seven miles south of Panguitch, Utah) and travel to the junction of Utah 12 and 63. Turn south (right) onto Utah 63 and travel three miles to reach the park entrance.

From the east: Travel west on Utah 12 to the intersection with Utah 63. Turn south (left) to reach the park entrance.
Sightseeing bus tours are available from St. George, Cedar City and Kanab, Utah.

In Park: The Bryce Canyon Shuttle is designed to leave the hassles of parking a car outside the park. Leave your car at the Shuttle Parking area and hop on the bus into the park. Our three different shuttle lines ensure smooth travel to each of the view points every 10 to 15 minutes.

You can hit all the northern view points, then hike from Bryce Point to Sunrise Point and catch the shuttle back to your car, back to the lodge, or back to your campground.

There are also cars available for rent outside the park. Horseback rides available inside the park. Biking is allowed on paved roads only. There are no mountain biking trails within the park.

Weather. At 8,000 to 9,100 feet, summer days are pleasant (80’s) and nights are cool (40’s). Afternoon thundershowers are common during mid- to late summer.

Spring and Fall weather is highly variable with days of snow or days with strong sun and 70 degrees.

Cold winter days are offset by high altitude sun and dry climate. Winter nights are sub-freezing. March is our snowiest month, but snow can occur October through April. Average snowfall is 95 inches, providing crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing opportunities.

The high altitude sun can burn in any season. We recommend hats and sunscreen all year. Layered clothing is also good preparation for the plateau’s temperature extremes and frequent strong winds.

Safety Tips

  • Lock valuables in your car out of sight.
  • Let someone know of your itinerary when hiking in the backcountry.
  • Prevent blisters by wearing comfortable boots or shoes which fit the terrain.
  • Be prepared for any weather condition. Wear sunscreen and a hat. Carry plenty of water. Hike in the earlier hours of the morning or later in the afternoon. Bring the proper equipment in the winter.
  • Prevent hypothermia by wearing layers. If you find yourself shivering and feel disoriented, seek shelter and drink warm liquids. Hypothermia can develop and is a serious condition requiring medical attention.
  • Watch for mountain lions(also known as panthers, cougars, or pumas.) If you encounter one, back away slowly; if attacked, wave, shout, and throw rocks. DO NOT RUN. Watch children closely.
  • Do not feed or touch wildlife. They can carry disease.
  • Giardiasis, an intestinal disorder, can result from drinking water from the streams or lakes in the mountains. Carry sufficient water. Purify water taken from the lakes and streams using a Giardia-rated water filter, or by boiling it for three to five minutes.

Visitor Centers and Exhibits. Stop at the Visitor Center for information, exhibits, a museum, bookstore and a short informational video shown on the 1/2 and on the hour. Short geology talks held at Inspiration Point, but are held at the Visitor Center Museum during bad weather.

Lodging and Camping Facilities. Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Inc. operates the Bryce Canyon Lodge, with 114 rooms including lodge suites, motel rooms and cabins. The season begins April 1 and runs through October 31.

  • Additional lodging is available throughout the area. Reservations are recommended

Campgrounds in Bryce. Bryce Canyon has two campgrounds, North and Sunset, with a total of 204 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are not accepted. Cost is $10 per site per night. There is a limit of 6 people, 3 tents, and 2 vehicles per site. Sites fill by early afternoon during the summer months.

North Campground
Open All Year
Tent and trailer sites are available on a first come, first served basis. Some pull-through motorhome sites are available. Restrooms are provided. Showers are available at the General Store near Sunrise point. There are no hookups at the sites and generator hours are restricted. There is a dump station available during the summer months. There are no hook-ups, but a fee-for-use sanitary dump station is available seasonally near North Campground. Loop A of North Campground has a heated restroom and remains open through the winter.

Sunset Campground
Open from late April to early October.
Tent and trailer sites are available on a first come, first served basis. Restrooms are provided. Showers are available at the General Store near Sunrise Point. There are no hookups in the park, and generator hours are restricted. There is a dump station available for use in the summer months near North Campground

Group Camping: Sunset Campground also has a group campsite. Group size is limited to 7-30 people and 8 vehicles. The cost is $3 person >age 6, with a minimum of $30 per night. Call (435) 834-4801 for more information and to make reservations.

Food and Supplies. The dining room at Bryce Canyon Lodge is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner reservations are required. A gift shop and post office are also available at the Lodge. Private stores in the immediate area are open all year for food, supplies and other services.

Recommended Activities. Sight-seeing, hiking, camping, backpacking, photography, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, bird watching and other wildlife observation, star gazing, contemplation, relaxation.

Photo Gallery

Arches National Park

Arches National Park


The world’s largest concentration of natural stone arches is found in Arches National Park. Over 2,000 of these miracles of nature grace the 73,000-acre area. The arches and numerous other extraordinary geologic features, such as spires, pinnacles, pedestals and balanced rocks, are highlighted in striking foreground and background views created by contrasting colors, landforms and textures.

A 40-mile scenic drive curves from the visitor center to the parking area at Devil’s Garden. From this paved road, most of the formations of the park are easily accessible, including Balanced Rock, Skyline Arch and Double Arch. Two trails, and a viewpoint accessible by car, offer different views of Delicate Arch, the park’s most famous geologic feature. Road guides and hiking brochures for the park are available at the visitor center. Guided hikes and campfire programs are offered daily. The entrance to the park is five miles north of Moab via US-191. The visitor center is open year-round. Water is available seasonally in the year-round campground. Be sure to get your Arches Travel Packet for information on Arches National Park!

Climbing in Arches consists of very technical rock climbing which should be done only by those trained in the sport. Most climbs along with beta are listed in a local guidebook. Climbing is not allowed on any arches specifically mentioned and named on the USGS topographic map, on Balanced Rock and several other places in the park. The visitor center in the park can be helpful for any further needed information.

Location: Much of the Climbing Arches National Park can be reached by taking Highway 191 and turning off to Highway 128 from Moab, then go north.

Climbs in Arches:

Three Penguins ( The Right Chimney, The Center Chimney)- Access this set of chimneys just of the main road past the visitor center.
Park Avenue Wall (Heart of the Desert)
Argon Tower (North Northeast)
The Three Gossips (West Face, Lyon-Trautner Route)- 1/4 mile west of the Courthouse Tower parking area lies the 300 foot tower of the Three Gossips which is home to three routes.
The Great Wall (Chinese Eyes)
Owl Rock, Devil Dog Spire (Industrial Disease)- A 100-foot spire which is a well defined crack system rated at 5.8. Access this rock from the Garden of Eden parking lot.
Cuddlebunny Tower, Dark Angel (West Face)
Arch National ParkThe Rock: Soft and often unstable sandstone is the primary rock found in the park and although harsh weather conditions have over time weakened permanent gear as well as the rock, making climbing in Arches quite the thrilling adventure. Climbing in Arches started long before the park was established and still competes for one of the best climbing areas in the world with its majestic towers.

Climbing regulations in the park:

In order to keep climbing open to the public, please observe the following regulations set aside to preserve the rock and the park.

Drilling with motorized drills is not allowed.
Climbing is not allowed on any arches specifically mentioned and named on the USGS topographic map, on Balanced Rock and several other places in the park. Some climbs in the park are closed during certain times during the year as well. Check with the visitor center for availability of climbing.
Chalk color must not conflict with natural color of rock.
Use designated trails and leave no trace on and off the wall. Use webbing and other gear that will blend with the rock.
Permits:
Unless you plan on spending the night in the backcountry of the park, climbing is allowed without first obtaining a permit

Nature

The Desert Ecosystem. Deserts form where global weather patterns and geographic land forms create a climate characterized by less than 10 inches of accumulated moisture annually, and where potential evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation. Arches National Park lies at a latitude north of the equator where dry air masses constantly descend toward the surface of the earth. The area is also in the interior of a large continent away from marine moisture and in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west. All of these factors act to produce the arid environment of Arches.

Arches receives an average of 9 inches of precipitation a year, most of it from melting winter snows. The elevation of the park (4,000 to 5600 ft.) and the snow create what is called a cold or high desert. Low moisture in the air allows more sunlight to reach the ground, raising daytime temperatures, another distinguishing feature of a desert. The average maximum summer temperature at Arches is 100 F. As a result of these unusual conditions, the plants found here are a unique blend not found in other deserts of the world.

Desert plants must be able to deal with extreme variations in temperature and water availability, as well as intense sunlight. In this high desert environment, temperatures fluctuate greatly, both daily and annually. In summer, highs climb well over 100 degrees F, while winter temperatures often drop below zero. On a hot summer day the temperature may fall 30 to 50 degrees F as night approaches, because of the low humidity and lack of cloud cover. As the sun sets, rock and sand, which do not hold heat well, release almost 90% of their captured solar energy back to the sky. Without clouds to hold the heat in, the air rapidly cools.

Surface temperatures in direct sunlight are commonly 25 to 50 degrees F warmer than the air temperature six feet above. Temperatures in the shade may be cooler by 20 or more degrees. Winter snow and violent thunderstorms fall on thin, sandy soils that do not retain much moisture.

Arch National ParkAdaptations. Plants use a variety of techniques to survive desert extremes. Some plants, referred to as “drought escapers,” make use of ideal growing conditions found in the spring when temperatures are cooler and water more abundant. These annual plants have a short life cycle and include the spring wildflowers that occur in showy abundance early each year.

Perennials, plants that live longer than one year, must deal with desert extremes in other ways. “Drought resistors” are plants that have made adaptations to get them through lean times. Cacti store water within their bodies, blackbrush drop their tiny, leathery leaves in dry weather, and yucca have tap roots up to 30 feet long which are able to reach water deep underground. Many desert plants have lightly colored, highly reflective leaves.

“Drought evaders” have even more radical adaptations. Moss, a plant not commonly associated with deserts, thrives because it can survive long periods of drought. When water is unavailable, it literally dries up. When water is suddenly plentiful, the plant readily soaks it up and becomes moist and green almost immediately. Mosses are usually found growing in the shade of larger plants or in cryptobiotic soil crust.

Another interesting adaptation is that of the Utah juniper, one of the most common trees in the southwest. During a drought, the juniper will shut off water flow to one or more branches, killing them in order to preserve the rest of the tree.

Other desert plants may grow only in specialized habitats. Moisture dependent monkey flower, easter flower and ferns all can be found in well-shaded alcoves with dripping springs. Cottonwood, willows and cattail, which require lots of water, can be found on river banks.

Arch National ParkThe Living Soil. A unique desert plant community that you are sure to see during your travels in Arches is cryptobiotic soil. This crumbly, black soil crust is made up of fungi, lichen, algae, moss and bacteria all living together in a symbiotic relationship, one in which all the members benefit from their communal coexistence. Cryptobiotic crusts are very important to the desert community because they stabilize the soil, prevent erosion, retain water, and provide important nutrients such as nitrogen to plants. A plant seed that lands in cryptobiotic crust has a greater chance of survival than one that lands in loose, dry sand. Unfortunately, cryptbiotic crusts are very fragile. One misplaced footstep can quickly turn crust to dust, and recovery and regrowth may take decades.

Geology

Arches National Park lies atop an underground salt bed called the Paradox Formation, which is responsible for the arches, spires, balanced rocks, fins and eroded monoliths common throughout the park. Thousands of feet thick in places, the Paradox layer was deposited across the Colorado Plateau some 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated. Over millions of years, the salt bed was covered with the residue of floods and winds as the oceans returned and evaporated again and again. Much of this debris was compressed into rock. At one time this overlying layer of rock may have been more than a mile thick.

Salt under pressure is unstable, and the salt bed below Arches began to flow under the weight of the overlying sandstone. This movement caused the overlying rock to buckle and shift, thrusting some sections upward into domes, dropping others into surrounding cavities, and causing vertical cracks which would later contribute to the development of arches.

As the subsurface movement of salt shaped the surface, erosion stripped away the younger rock layers. Water seeped into cracks and joints, washing away loose debris and eroding the “cement” that held the sandstone together, leaving a series of freestanding fins. During colder periods, ice formed, its expansion putting pressure on the rock, breaking off bits and pieces, and sometimes creating openings. Many damaged fins collapsed. Others, with the right degree of hardness and balance, have survived as the world famous formations of Arches National Park.

Faults deep in the Earth also contributed to the instability on the surface. The result of one such 2,500-foot displacement is called the Moab Fault and is visible from the Arches Visitor Center. Salt Valley was also formed by such a displacement.

Except for isolated remnants, the major rock formations visible in the park today are the salmon-colored Entrada Sandstone, in which most of the arches form, and the tan-colored Navajo Sandstone.

Hiking

A nice thing about Arches is that “easy” doesn’t mean, “boring”, at least as far as the beautiful scenery that surrounds the park. The Balanced Rock Loop is one of the easier hikes around the base of a fragile and highly improbable geological rarity. Park Avenue is a medium hike where the trail descends steeply into a spectacular canyon. A slightly longer hike to the Windows takes you to two massive sandstone portals you can climb through. A half-mile trail takes you to the rim of a steep canyon where you can glimpse one of the nation’s most photographed natural features.

Long Hikes

Arch National Park Delicate Arch
• Starting Point: Wolfe Ranch parking area
• Length: 3 miles round trip
• Time: 2 to 3 hours
• Elevation change: 480 feet
Take at least 1 quart (1 liter) of water per person! There is no shade. Open slickrock with some exposure to heights. The first half-mile is a wide, well-defined trail. Upon reaching the slickrock, follow the rock cairns. The trail climbs gradually and levels out toward the top of this rock face. Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail goes along a rock ledge for about 200 yards.

Devils Garden Primitive Loop
• Starting Point: Devils Garden Trailhead parking area
• Length: 7.2 miles (11.5 km) round trip, including all spur trails to points of interest
• Time: 3 to 5 hours
Longest of the maintained trails in the park, the Devils Garden Trail leads to eight awe-inspiring arches. Expect narrow ledges with rocky surface hiking and scrambling on slickrock. Not recommended when rock is wet or snowy. Trail guide available at trailhead.

Fiery Furnace (Fee Area)
The Fiery Furnace is a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons and fins. Visitors who want to explore the Fiery Furnace must obtain a hiking permit at the visitor center (fee charged), or sign up for a ranger-guided hike.

Double O Arch
• Starting Point: Devils Garden Trailhead parking area
• Length: 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip
• Time: 2 to 3 hours
Beyond Landscape Arch, the trail becomes more challenging as it climbs over sandstone slabs; footing is rocky; there are narrow ledges with exposure to heights. Spur trails lead to Partition and Navajo Arches. Dark Angel is one-half mile (0.8 km) farther. Trail guide available at trailhead.
Medium Hikes

Park Avenue
• Starting Point: Park Avenue parking area
• Ending Point: Courthouse Towers parking area
• Length: 1 mile (1.6 km) one way
• Time: 30 to 60 minutes
• Elevation change: 320 feet (98 meters)
From Park Avenue parking area, the trail descends steeply into a spectacular canyon and continues down the wash to Courthouse Towers. If you have a shuttle driver, you can begin at one point and be picked up at the other. For round-trip hiking, retrace your steps along the trail rather than walk along the park road.

Tower Arch
• Starting Point: Klondike Bluffs parking area, via the Salt Valley road
• Length: 3.4 miles (5.6 km) round trip
• Time: 2 to 3 hours
The trail climbs a steep, but short, rock wall, cuts across a valley and then meanders through sandstone fins and sand dunes. An alternate, shorter trail (0.3 mile [0.4 km] one way), begins at the end of the four-wheel-drive road on the west side of Tower Arch. This unpaved road washes out quickly in rainstorms; inquire at the visitor center about road conditions before heading out.
Easy Hikes

Broken Arch
• Starting Point: Sand Dune Arch parking area or Devils Garden campground across from campsite #40
• Length: 1.2 miles (2 km) round trip; 2 miles (3.2 km) including the loop
• Time: 30 to 60 minutes
From the Sand Dune Arch parking area, the trail cuts across a large meadow to the arch and continues to the campground. Loop trail leads through fin canyons with sand dunes and slickrock.

Balanced Rock
• Starting Point: Balanced Rock parking area
• Length: 0.3 mile (0.5 km) round trip
• Time: 15 to 30 minutes
A loop trail around the base of a fragile, picturesque rock formation.

The Windows
• Starting Point: Windows parking area
• Length: 1 mile (1.6 km) round trip
• Time: 30 to 60 minutes
A gentle climb up a gravel loop trail leads to three massive arches (North and South Windows and Turret Arch). An alternate return, slightly longer, is by way of the primitive loop around the back of the two Windows. The primitive loop trail starts at the South Window viewpoint.

Double Arch
• Starting Point: Double Arch parking area
• Length: 0.5 mile (0.8 km) round trip
• Time: 15 to 30 minutes
A relatively flat, sandy trail leads to the base of two giant arch spans which are joined at one end.

Delicate Arch Viewpoint
• Starting Point: Delicate Arch Viewpoint parking area
• Length: 100 yards (91 meters) round trip
• Time: 10 to 15 minutes
In addition to the short accessible trail, another (moderately strenuous) hiking trail climbs one-half mile (0.8 km) toward Delicate Arch and ends at the rim of a steep canyon that separates the viewpoint from the arch. (This is not the popular trail to Delicate Arch, which starts at the Wolfe Ranch parking area.)

Sand Dune Arch
• Starting Point: Sand Dune Arch parking area
• Length: 0.4 mile (0.6 km) round trip
• Time: 15 to 30 minutes
Trail leads through deep sand to a secluded arch among sandstone fins.

Desert Nature Trail
• Starting Point: Arches Visitor Center
• Length: 0.2 mile (0.3 km) round trip
• Time: 15 to 30 minutes
Discover the adaptations of plants and animals in the desert on a self-guided nature walk. Trail guide available at the trailhead.

Skyline Arch
• Starting Point: Skyline Arch parking area
• Length: 0.4 mile (0.6 km) round trip
• Time: 10 to 20 minutes
A short hike on a flat, well-defined trail. On a cold November night in 1940, a large chunk fell out of the arch, instantly doubling the size of its opening.

History

Although there are arches and natural bridges found all over the world, these natural phenomena nowhere are found in such profusion as they are in Arches National Park, located in Grand County, Utah, north of the town of Moab. The Colorado River forms the southern boundary of the park, and the LaSal Mountains are visible from most viewpoints inside the park`s boundaries. The park is situated in the middle of the Colorado Plateau, a vast area of deep canyons and prominent mountain ranges that also includes Canyonlands National Park, Colorado National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, and Dinosaur National Monument. The Colorado Plateau is covered with layers of Jurassic-era sandstones; the type most prevalent within the Park is called Entrada Sandstone, a type that lends itself to the arch cutting that gives the park its name.

Arches National Park covers more than 73,000 acres, or about 114 square miles. There are more than 500 arches found inside the park’s boundaries, and the possibility exists that even more may be discovered. The concentration of arches within the park is the result of the angular topography, much exposed bare rock, and erosion on a major scale. In such an arid area – annual precipitation is about 8.5 inches per year – it is not surprising that the agent of most erosion is wind and frost.

Flora and fauna in the park and its immediate surrounding area are mainly desert adaptations, except in the canyon bottoms and along the Colorado River, where a riverine or riparian environment is found. Where the landscape is not just bare rock, sage and other low shrubs are common; pinyon and juniper trees are also present. Cottonwoods, willows, and tamarisk predominate in the wetter areas within the park. The largest mammals are bighorn sheep, deer, coyotes, and bobcats; other animals include porcupines, jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits, foxes, mice, and squirrels. Lizards and snakes that have adapted to an arid environment are common, as are birds, both local and migratory, including canyon wrens, ravens, eagles, hawks, and waterfowl along the river.

The first known inhabitants of the area that is now Arches National Park were the archaic groups found throughout the West between 3,000 and 8,000 years ago. (A Folsom projectile point, up to 11,000 years old, was found just west of the Park in 1959.) The first to leave a distinct trace were the Anasazi and Fremont peoples, similar cultures that inhabited the Colorado Plateau from about A.D. 200 to about AD 1300. Arches National Park is just outside the Fremont cultural area, so the most common vestiges of ancient society are Anasazi. Within the park are many superb examples of rock art left in hidden canyons by prehistoric artists; dwelling sites and associated artifacts are also found.

The Arches area was inhabited later by two different historic groups of Native Americans, the Ute and the Navajo. Utes lived and hunted throughout the park area, and were responsible for driving out the first white settlers in the area as late as the 1850s. Arches was on the northern fringe of the Navajo lands, and although they passed through the area there is no evidence that Navajos lived within the park area.

The Old Spanish Trail passed through the Spanish Valley, where Moab is now located, and crossed the Colorado River just outside the park boundaries, but it is unlikely that many Spaniards ever ventured into the park. Juan Maria de Rivera, a Spanish trader, passed nearby as early as 1765, and by the 1840s the trail was a well-used route from New Mexico to California. Mountain men were known to travel in the area, but the only one known to have entered the present-day park boundaries was the enigmatic Denis Julien, who left an inscription dated 1844 in the Devil’s Garden area of the park. The first Mormon explorers entered the Moab area in 1854, and returned to found the Elk Mountain mission the following year; however, they were quickly driven out of the area by the Utes.

The Mormons returned to help found the town of Moab in the early 1880s, but it wasn’t until John Wesley Wolfe, a Civil War veteran, settled on Salt Creek in 1898 that the park had its first white inhabitant. Wolfe and his family lived on their homestead near Delicate Arch until 1910. Other residents of Moab were quick to note the natural wonders of the area, and visits to the arches, canyons, and fins were a regular occurrence by the turn of the century. In 1922, a local miner and prospector named Alexander Ringhoffer visited the area and was so struck by its unique beauty that he contacted officials of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, which ran just north of the park, to see if they would be interested in developing the area as a tourist attraction.

Through a roundabout series of events, the National Park Service was informed of the potential of the area for inclusion in the National Park System and, as a result, Arches National Monument was created by President Herbert Hoover in 1929. In 1933 and 1934 the Arches National Monument Scientific Expedition conducted an in-depth reconnaissance of the new monument. The scientists studied the geology, wildlife, plant communities, archeology, and paleontology of the area. The expedition was led by Frank Beckwith, a local newspaper editor and amateur scientist, who was responsible for many of the names of the arches and other features in the park, such as Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and Tower Arch. A detailed map of the monument was made, and Beckwith prepared a final report as well as several articles for publication, all of which contributed to the growing popularity of Arches National Monument.

In 1938, like many other western national monuments, Arches was greatly expanded by President Franklin Roosevelt, from its original 4,500 acres to almost 34,000 acres. Despite increasing tourist interest in the area, the first paved road wasn’t built into Arches until 1958. Other changes occurred in the 1960s, adding and removing various sections, and it wasn’t until 1971 that President Richard Nixon signed the law that changed Arches to a national park and set its size at the present 73,233 acres.

Because of its protected status, Arches National Park was never scarred by the “cat trails” or prospects of the uranium boom of the 1950s, nor by any other mining activities. In 1955-56, a natural gas pipeline was built through the northern sections of the park, leaving a scar that is still visible. Today Moab has become a center of a growing recreation area, with thousands of visitors flocking to the spectacular red-rock cliffs and canyons for mountain biking, river running, cross-country skiing, and other outdoor activities. Arches National Park is one of the most popular destinations among the many national parks and monuments in Utah and nearby states, and thousands of tourists from all over the world visit it each year. The danger today is not from mineral or other types of development, but that Arches, like most other national parks, will be simply “loved to death.”

Park Information

Visitation. Visitation is highest March through October; lowest in December and January.

Location. The park entrance is located on Utah Highway 191, five miles north of Moab, UT

Operating Hours. The visitor center is open all year from 8am to 4:30pm (extended hours spring through fall).
• Closed December 25th.

Climate. In summer, June through September, temperatures may exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and winter, December through February, temperatures often drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures may range 50 degrees in a 24-hour period. Very dry! Carry drinking water at all times.

Transportation.
PLANE – Commercial airlines serve Grand Junction, CO and Salt Lake City, UT. By car, these cities are roughly 2 and 4 hours (respectively) away from the park entrance.
CAR – The entrance to Arches is located 5 miles north of Moab along Highway 191.
BUS – Greyhound travels along Interstate 70, making stops at Grand Junction, CO and Green River, UT. Commercial van services operate between Moab and Salt Lake City as well as Grand Junction.

Fees. Entrance fee of $10 per vehicle, or $5 per individual is good for seven consecutive days. Camping fee is $10 per night for individual sites in summer. Fees also charged for Fiery Furnace permits and guided walks.

Entrance fee waivers are available for school groups visiting Arches. Requests should be composed on school letterhead and state the purpose of the trip and how it relates to the park. Please include group size and the dates needed. Submit requests to: National Park Service, Entrance Fee Waivers, 2282 S. West Resource Blvd. Moab, UT 84532. Fax 435-719-2300.

Facilities And Opportunities
Visitor Center: Located near park entrance. Museum with exhibits on the park’s natural and cultural history. Sales area features books, maps and other publications.

Trails, Roads: The 48 mile round trip paved road in the park travels through spectacular scenery and leads to major park features. Hiking trails of varying length and difficulty lead to and through arches and into the heart of the park. Pets are not allowed on hiking trails.

Interpretive Activities: Regularly scheduled walks, guided hikes and evening campfire programs are offered by rangers mid-March through October. The popular Fiery Furnace walks often fill a day or two in advance (fee charged). Reservations for these trips can be made at the visitor center up to seven days before the walk for groups of no more than ten people. Special tours for large groups can be arranged; submit requests by telephone or in writing as far in advance as possible. Arches also offers a Junior Ranger Program for children ages six through eleven. The free booklet includes several fun activities that may be completed during a visit.

Lodging and camping facilities: No lodging in park. The Devils Garden Campground, located l8 miles from the park entrance, has 50 tent and trailer sites, plus two walk-in group sites limited to tenting for ten or more persons. Facilities include flush toilets and water until frost. You must pre-register for individual campsites at the Arches Visitor Center between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m., or at the entrance station after 8:00 a.m. Group campsite reservations are available for the two group sites; call (435) 259-4351 for information. The Arches campground fills daily mid-March through October, often by early to midmorning.

Food/supplies: No food is available in the park. In the Arches Visitor Center, you may buy film and water containers, as well as informational materials.

Accessibility: Visitors with mobility impairments can access the visitor center, restrooms throughout the park, Devils Garden Campground site #37, the Park Avenue Viewpoint and the Delicate Arch Viewpoint.

For visitors with hearing impairments, a variety of publications may be obtained at the Visitor Center. Wayside exhibits with illustrations and text on natural and cultural features are situated throughout the Park and in the Vistitor Center. Park Information is also available by TDD phone at (435) 719-2319.
Recommendations. Sightseeing by personal car, hiking, biking (established roads only), picnicking (3 designated picnic areas in park), and camping. Join a ranger March through October at a talk, walk, hike or campfire program. The basic road tour with stops at overlooks requires several hours to a half day.

Special Events. Annual Easter Sunrise Service in the park. Check bulletin boards for other special events or programs during your visit.

Nearby Attractions. Area public lands provide a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities. Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, the Slickrock Bike Trail, and the Manti-LaSal National Forest are all within 50 miles of Arches National Park.

Arches National Park
P.O. Box 907
Moab, UT 84532
Phone: (435)719-2299
TDD: (435)719-2319
Email: archinfo@nps.gov

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