The extravagant red sedimentary rock is noticeable in the towering rock formations. The fossil-less cliffs that characterize the rocky, desert landscapes of Wyoming, Nevada, Utah and Southern California came from an environment that was once like today’s Sahara Desert environment. This geology is called the Navajo Formation. Zion National Park has the most impressive formations that are up to 2,500 feet thick, making it the world’s deepest desert landscape.
The Court of the Patriarchs
Zion’s spirituality and its iconic rock formations are inextricably intertwined. The grand buttes rising from the canyon floor are awe-inspiring. The three patriarchs dominate the valley. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob rest on the west side of Zion Canyon at Birch Creek and are visible from almost everywhere within the valley. Mount Moroni is in front of the Three Patriarchs.
Towers of the Virgin
Towers of the Virgin are another set of prominent peaks on the wet side of the administration building north of West Temple. The Sentinel is the northernmost peak. The Alter of Sacrifice is the one with red blood (iron oxide) streaking down its face.
Zion National Park’s Riverside Walk begins at the Temple of Sinawava, an open area named after the Paiute wolf god. Look for a rock that looks like a minister’s pulpit called, appropriately, The Pulpit.
Just north of Zion Lodge west of the river, look for a giant sandstone cliff that looks like its name, The Spearhead. This stone promontory is part of the lower section of Mount Majestic, located just north of Emerald Pools.
Beehives are the set of mound-like (not pointed) mountain peaks also seen from the administration area, which are shaped like, what else — beehives.
Checkerboard Mesa is a worn mountain covered with cross-hatching that makes it resemble a checkerboard that lies along the Zion Mt. Carmel Highway.
Across the street from the lodge, look for a mountain that looks like the figure of a lady called Lady Mountain.
Mountain of the Sun
Turn around and look south to see Mountain of the Sun, noted for capturing the sun the first thing in the morning and holding onto it longest at night. (Pictured is the arch on the west face)
Angel’s Landing was named by Ethelbert Bingham in 1916 when he exclaimed to his friends, “only an angel could land on that!” Nearby, The Organ juts out toward Angel’s Landing. Some think the wind passing through the pass sounds like a pipe organ.
Bridge Mountain was once named Crawford Mountain after a local pioneer family, but was changed to Bridge Mountain when a natural bridge was found there. The natural bridge turned out to be, not a bridge, but an arch, but the mountain’s name appears to be more enduring.
The Great White Throne
Look for the large, white mountain north of the lodge on the east side of the canyon. It’s called the Great White Throne.
Need a map? Download an official Zion National Park map for basic road and attraction locations. Want a detailed topographical map of trails in the park? Buy the NatGeo Trails Illustrated Map for Zion National Park at REI.com. The map includes trails, trailheads, points of interest, campgrounds, lakes and much more. Or get the complete Utah National Parks Map Pack with five topographic maps. All of the NatGeo maps are printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.
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