There we were in the later months of autumn, amidst a sea of golden flowing grass, next to a majestic old oak tree, in the shadow of a towering white temple, with a setting sun and a sweeping view of red rock mountains. It was then that we realized—Zion is more than just a canyon.
[To view a short film on Zion National Park, click here.]
Kolob Terrace1 of 4
Those familiar with the park will immediately recognize the name Kolob Terrace, which is part of Utah's Lower Kolob Plateau.
Located north of the main canyon for which the park is world-renowned, this region of the park is all too often overlooked. With its wide-open meadows and sweeping vistas, Kolob Terrace hardly resembles the towering red rock walls of the main canyon. In fact, one could make the case that the picturesque region should be another park entirely.
Watch closely as you drive through this section of the park on Kolob Terrace Road, where you'll see roaming herds of mule deer going about their daily routines. In the distance, giant red rock and white rock towers dominate landscapes and beckon the explorer in all of us.
Lava Point2 of 4
If you follow the Kolob Terrace Road far enough north, it eventually intersects with a road called Lava Point. Once you turn right, you'll enter an entirely new region of the park.
Here, aspen groves blanket the landscape with intermittent piles of black volcanic rock, which gives the scenic point its name. Continue east and aspen gives way to ponderosa pine. Nestled amongst these trees is one of our favorite campgrounds in the entire NPS system – Lava Point Campground.
If you're lucky, you'll be able to share one of these large campsites with a resident mule deer. Continue to follow the road east to its end and behold one of the most scenic overlooks in Zion.
Kolob Canyon3 of 4
Turn off Interstate 15 onto Kolob Canyon Road and the first thing you'll notice is the color of the road. No, not yellow-brick, but a deep southwestern red that beckons the adventure-seeking traveler.
Winding up this weathered, canyon-colored road for a few miles will transport you to a land before time. Rocky hills covered with juniper and sagebrush give way to a spectacular canyon of towering crimson cliffs and majestic peaks where condors soar and cougars roam. Park your car and look out toward the seemingly never-ending box canyons carved into the western edge of the Colorado Plateau.
This is Zion, now hit the trail.