Elk reintroduced to Zion 100 Years Ago

By the end of the 1800's, elk had been hunted to extinction from Zion National Park. In 1912, we began importing them from Yellowstone.
Elk lying in the grass

Herds of magnificent elk and bighorn sheep roamed the state when European settlers arrived, but hunters then knew what hunters today know: they are excellent source of food. The same species as the European red deer, they look dramatically different. Within 50 years, they were almost gone and by 1898 Utah instituted closed hunting seasons in order to protect those that were left.

From 1912 to 1925, the state imported elk from other states, including herds from Yellowstone Park. The state continues to monitor the herds and use its own herds to establish populations in other regions throughout the state, bringing them back to southern Utah in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Shawnee called them wapiti, or white rump/deer. Utah's State Animal, the wapiti bear one offspring in late spring, congregating in large nurseries of several hundred cows and calves. Small bands of bulls may also be seen roaming together throughout the summer.

In late September, the bulls split apart to begin gathering their harems. It isn't uncommon to hear the loud bugle of bulls who will battle to defend their harem against encroachers. By winter, the bulls and harems have split apart and bulls will either roam alone or regroup with other small herds of bulls.

They can live in a wide variety of habitats, but must have sources of drinking water nearby and can roam over wide ranges.


1920's Union Pacific Railroad

Railroad shaped beginning of Zion National Park

Railroads have always been involved with the national park system in the United States, from the founding of the first national park, Yellowstone.

Bighorn Sheep in Zion

Bighorn Sheep Relocated from Zion by Helicopter

To keep the bighorn herds at a healthy density, bighorn are routinely captured, tested, tagged and then moved to other areas. This time by helicopter.

Rock formation at Zion National Park

Do I Need to Worry About Falling Rock in Zion National Park?

Rockfalls are very common in Zion National Park but no visitor has ever been killed by one in the history of the park.

Tagged California Condor flying in Arizona

Endangered Condor Chick Dies

Utah may have it's first naturally hatched condor chick. Biologists have not yet seen the chick but they have been observing the parents courting, and now the mother's feeding habits.


Where are Services near Zion National Park?

Where can I get my vehicle fixed? Where are the closest medical clinics/hospitals to Zion National Park? And other services surrounding Zion National Park.


Getting Around Zion Park

How to get around Zion National Park by specific modes of transportation, including what is permitted and what is prohibited.


Mountain Lions in Zion Canyon

Zion National Park gets almost three million visitors annually -- most in Zion Canyon -- and mountain lions stay far away from such crowds.

Anasazi Valley Learning Center

Ancient, Sacred Lands Are At Risk in Anasazi Valley

The walls of the Anasazi village were "home to ancient Puebloans, and since 450 A.D., Southern Paiute Indians. The tribes now ask for your help to protect the site from developers.


Human Use of Zion Goes Back 12 Millennia

The earliest evidence of humans in the Zion National Park area is about 10,000 BC, from ancient spear points found among the remains of woolly mammoths and other Ice Age species.