Situated in Utah, the Zion National Park was first established as a national park in 1919. It is 590km2 (229 sq mi) of high, forest covered plateaus and narrow, plunging sandstone canyons, dotted with rock towers and mesas. Elevations within the park range from 1,097 to 2,652 m (3,600 to 8,700 ft) and the Park is much favoured by hikers, backpackers and climbers.
The climate in the park is arid desert and may at first glance look barren, but in fact is a complex mix of four different habitats: desert, riparian, woodland and coniferous forest. These together provide homes to 69 species of mammals, 208 birds, 29 reptiles, six amphibians, and nine fish.
Rare or endangered species which have found a safe haven here include the Mexican spotted owl, the Californian condor, the desert tortoise and the Zion snail, which is found only here. Many species are nocturnal in order to avoid the scorching daytime temperatures. During the day, you may see mule deer and desert bighorn sheep, although sharper eyes may catch smaller mammals darting around, such as rock squirrels which love to clamber up the sheer canyon walls.
The park is a hiker’s paradise - there are over 145 km (90 mi) of trails, from easy strolls to cliffside scrambles. The Kolob Canyons in the North West corner of the park are designated wilderness areas and provide great opportunities for exploring away from the crowds and off the beaten track. There are also suitable trails for bikes – the Pa’rus Trail and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive – and guided Jeep tours for exploring the rugged back roads of the park.