WATCH | How a single stream shaped the geological wonders of Zion National Park

Zion National Park is living proof that nature is the greatest creator. The Southern Paiute people called it Oawingwa, which means ‘a place where the stream flows’.

Here, the surging Virgin River carved out layers of Navajo sandstone, forming the 24-kilometre Zion Canyon. Dive into this rust-coloured realm and come face-to-face with its maker.

Located on State Route 9 in southwest Utah, Zion National Park is a labyrinth of geological wonders.

The reserve spans 148 000 acres and supports a diversity of life, including 800 native plant species.

Shaped over millennia by snow, wind, and water, the scorched land is characterised by dramatic forms and hues.

Zig-zagging through the entire park is the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. From early February to late November, a free shuttle service allows tourists to visit the reserve’s top attractions. For those who want to go at their own speed, the road is open to private vehicles outside of peak season.

The first stop on the route is the Human History Museum. Hop off at the centre to learn more about the region’s heritage.

Exhibits range from indigenous culture to the influence of water, unearthing the park’s development over the centuries. 

Approximately 240 million years ago, Zion National Park was a flat basin. As the decades passed, natural forces gradually sculpted monumental rock formations that tower at over 2 000 metres.

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Angels Landing, Towers of the Virgin, and the Great White Throne are some of the park's most prominent peaks. At Weeping Rock and Emerald Pools, streams of water breathe life into this arid landscape.

With over 35 trails, this region is a haven for hikers. The half-hour Riverside Walk doesn’t require much skill or strength, and is the ideal route to experience the park without breaking a sweat.

The trek through The Narrows is not as forgiving. Waterproof boots are essential for this gruelling eight-hour trek as adventurers wade through the river. Sandstone grottos, hanging gardens, and even cougars can be spotted along the way.

Saddle up a trusty steed and explore the area on horseback with Canyon Rides.

The one-hour tour follows the river to striking cactus gardens and some of the reserve’s most renowned rock formations, including the Three Patriarchs and Beehives.