QT Luong • Exploring Zion National Park

Hiking into canyons and navigating water flows are only two of the activities to do in the incredible 229-square mile Zion National Park in Utah. QT Luong has a comprehensive guide to making the best of your trip there

Zion National Park has been called ‘Yosemite in color’, which is an apt comparison, as both share a great variety of beauty, in imposing scenery as well as intimate details. Like Yosemite, Zion features at its heart a narrow valley with a beautiful river and vegetation flanked by sheer cliffs and rock towers. Besides being multicolored, like most rocks on the Colorado Plateau and unlike Yosemite’s grey granite walls, the cliffs are formed by soft sandstone characteristic of the Colorado Plateau. This has made it possible for the forces of erosion to sculpt the rocks in a variety of shapes and for rivers to carve incredibly narrow canyons. What makes a visit to Zion unique amongst other national parks is the opportunity to hike into those canyons. The rivers have also created an oasis in the desert with lush deciduous vegetation mixed with desert plants that add another layer of interest to an extraordinary geology.

Zion is a compact park. The main attractions are found along the 14 miles of Hwy 9 and the 5 miles of Zion Canyon, which are both open year-round. The little traveled Kolob Terrace Road is used mostly to reach trailheads, notably for the Subway canyon. Kolob Canyon is an isolated, out-of-the-way area of lesser interest. Both roads can close in winter. Zion has recently become one of the most popular national parks, even surpassing Yosemite and Yellowstone in visitation, with most of the visitors heading for the small Zion Canyon, which can often feel very crowded. From ...

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About Author


QT Luong is known for being the first to photograph all America’s 59 National Parks – in large format. Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan featured him in The National Parks: America's Best Idea. His photographs are extensively published and have been the subject of four large-format books including Treasured Lands (winner of 6 national book awards), several magazine and newspaper profiles, solo gallery and museum exhibits across the U.S.

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