In Depth Zion National Park's entrances on the southwestern and eastern edges are connected by SR 9 (Zion-Mount Carmel Highway), which joins I-15 on the west and US 89 on the east. The park's northwestern entrance is accessible from I-15, but no other road connects this part of the park with the Zion Canyon section.
Desert terrain and huge, sculpted rock formations coexist with hanging gardens. The gigantic stone masses of the West Temple and the Watchman guard the southern entrance to the park. From a multicolored stairway, the red-brown Watchman looms 2,555 feet above the canyon floor. The 7,810-foot West Temple is one of the most prominent formations in the southern section.
Just north of the southern entrance is the beginning of Zion Canyon, a spectacular gorge carved by the Virgin River through strangely colored sandstones and shale—among Utah’s truly remarkable things to see. About half a mile deep and half a mile wide at its mouth, the canyon narrows to about 300 feet at the Temple of Sinawava, the narrowest portion accessible by car and about 8 miles from the park entrance.
From the west the main park road, a continuation of SR 9 known as Zion-Mount Carmel Highway climbs the talus slope of Pine Creek Canyon in six switchbacks, enters 5,607-foot Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel (completed in 1930) and continues to ascend at a 5-percent grade. Needless to say, the construction of this road is considered a remarkable engineering feat.
The Kolob Canyons section in the northwest corner of the park contains fingerlike red sandstone canyons at the edge of Kolob Terrace. Within this area is the Hurricane Fault, where layers of ancient rock are clearly exposed. Kolob Arch is accessible via a 14-mile round-trip trail; measuring 310 feet across, it is one of the largest freestanding arches in the world.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.