Zion National Park Creates Fine Art
There is no other place in Utah that offers the potential for Fine Art Prints that is possible in Zion National Park. There are red rock mountains and cliffs, brilliant fall colors, and views down the Virgin River of iconic subjects such as The Watchman. A hike through The Narrows in the Fall is guaranteed to provide images suitable for Fine Art Prints. These are all stunning scenes worthy of placing on your wall.
Visiting and Photographing Zion National Park
I’ll never forget my first visit to Zion National Park. As I approached the Park, I was in awe of the red rock mountains that were surrounding me. Pictures I had seen had not prepared me for the experience. I couldn’t wait to get out and explore. Allow me to share some of what I have learned about this incredible National Park.
As you approach Springdale, Utah, you get your first glimpse of The Watchman, an incredible, sharply pointed, red rock mountain. For me, this mountain became synonymous with Zion National Park. It didn’t seem to matter from where or when I photographed it, I liked it.
Probably the most iconic view in the Park is looking south from the Canyon Junction Bridge over the Virgin River to The Watchman. It used to be possible to photograph this scene from the bridge, but due to safety precautions, this is no longer allowed. I’m glad I was able to do it when I could. There are still photo options from down by the river that are very good.
The road that goes north into Zion Canyon is something special. The view and trails along this road are why the Park receives millions of visitors every year. Due to the crowds, you are required to use a shuttle bus system for all but a couple of months in the winter.
The first stop on the road is the Court of the Patriarchs. There is a great view of these formations from over the river and a small cascade. The shuttle doesn’t leave early enough to get you there for sunrise, so you might have to consider taking a photograph later in the day.
At the Emerald Pools, there is a cascade of water that flows over the rock face as you walk up the trail. I photographed it in the fall, with brilliant orange and red colors in the foliage below the cascade.
Further up Zion Canyon is the trail to Angel’s Landing. This is an extremely difficult hike, and sometimes dangerous, that I have not done. The photographs I have seen from the Landing are impressive. I would strongly recommend anyone considering this hike to learn as much about it as possible in advance and go well prepared.
At the north end of the Canyon is the Temple of Sinawava, where you can take the River Walk into The Narrows. The views in the canyon, especially in the Fall, are spectacular. I have only done it once, but I could do it over and over and come away with different images every time. I highly recommend it.
As the main road heads out to the east of the Park, there is a trail to the Zion Canyon Overlook that begins just east of the tunnel. Spring and Fall are good times here when the sun is rising and setting pretty much due east and west, lighting up the canyon.
West of Springdale, near the town of Virgin, is a dirt road that takes you to Kolob Canyon. There are a variety of overlooks along with access to an iconic view of The Subway via a long and difficult trail along and crossing the Left Fork of North Creek. Like Angel’s Landing, I recommend doing considerable research before undertaking this hike. Permits may also be required.
Zion National Park is well worth a visit, and I especially recommend it in the Fall. I hope you have a chance to go there.
Fun Facts About Zion National Park
Zion National Park is one of 63 National Parks in the United States. The park’s main attraction is Zion Canyon, which received its name from the Mormons who settled there in the early 1860s. The word “Zion” is Hebrew and means “a place of peace and relaxation.”
A portion of the area was first set aside as Mukuntuweap National Monument in 1909 by President William Howard Taft. The word “Mukuntuweap” means “straight arrow” (or “straight canyon”) in Paiute. In 1918, the National Parks Service decided to rename the area, Zion, opting for a shorter, more pronounceable name. The monument was enlarged and renamed Zion National Monument in 1918 and was established as a national park in 1919.
In 1909, the park had 1,814 visitors. Fast forward to 2019 when the park had 4,488,268 visitors and in the pandemic year of 2020, they still had 3,591,254 visitors. The highlight of the Park is the 15 miles long Zion Canyon, which is surrounded by reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone.
When Zion National Park was established, it was remote and a trip involved traveling along old, rugged wagon roads. The use of automobiles created the need to find a better way to get to the canyon. Construction of the 1.1-mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel began in the late 1920s and was completed in 1930. It was a true feat of engineering. The task was undertaken by the Nevada Construction Company, which used mining methods rather than traditional tunneling procedures. The project cost nearly $2 million (about $26 million today).
Zion Canyon was carved over millions of years by the Virgin River and is approximately 2,000 feet deep. Unlike the Grand Canyon, which you experience from the top, at Zion, you look up at the towering cliffs above the Virgin River and valley. Hikers enjoy hiking along the floor of the Canyon in the 20 to 30-foot-wide area known as The Narrows which is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. You can see The Narrows by hiking along the paved, wheelchair-accessible Riverside Walk for one mile from the Temple of Sinawava but otherwise to truly hike The Narrows means you will be walking in the Virgin River…. either wading upstream for a few minutes or planning an all-day hike.
A prominent feature in the Park is the Virgin River which runs the entire length of the valley. The river is dotted with Cottonwood trees that turn a brilliant shade of yellow in the fall. There are great hikes everywhere including Angels Landing which is thought to be one of the scariest hikes in America. It stands at 1,488 feet above the Virgin River and includes many zig-zag trails up steep hills, sheer drops, and exposed edges.
The Angels Landing Trail-West Rim Trail was built in 1926 following the completion of the East Rim Trail. The Angels Landing trail climbs a sandstone spine, providing rails and chain handholds. It joins the West Rim Trail, built in 1925-26 and extended in 1935. Both trails were planned by Thomas Chalmers Vint of the NPS Branch of Plans and Design and Walter Ruesch, the Zion Park building foreman and first superintendent.
Angels Landing is also the home of Walter's Wiggles, a series of 21 switchbacks. The wiggles were the brainchild of Walter Ruesch. Although Ruesch was no engineer, the switchbacks, carved out of the solid rock on a sheer cliff, were considered to be an engineering marvel.
Zion is one of the most fascinating national parks … filled with scenic views and unique hiking experiences. Hopefully, the photos in this gallery will inspire you to add Zion to your bucket list of parks to visit.
In addition to the mountains in Zion National Park, see our gallery of Fine Art Mountain Photography. See photographs from other parks like Bryce, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.