Wildflowers in Zion National Park

With housing the most wildflower species in Utah, beauty is all around in Zion. There are well over 1,000 plant species and counting, said Walt Fertig.
Utah Honey Bee and Thistle by James Phelps

Utah Honey Bee and Thistle by James Phelps via Wikimedia Commons

Zion National Park is well known among botanists, for its rich abundance of plant species -- well over 1,000 and counting, said Walt Fertig, an instructor for the Zion Field Institute and doctoral student at the University of Wyoming.

"Zion has the most species in Utah and has the highest density of species," said Fertig, who also works for Moenave Botanical Consulting in Kanab, Utah.

The eco-regions of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and the Mojave Desert all come together in Zion National Park's 229 square miles. Over 30 new species were identified in the park last year, he said, bringing the flora count up to 1,023, of which 871 are native and 152 introduced.

Fertig said that eight plant species are found only in Zion and 45 found just in Zion and the immediate area.

Some of the rarest plants are found in the wet hanging gardens, in the cool and shady slot canyons, such as:

· Clausen's violet (Viola clauseniana)
· Joanna's thistle (Cirsium joannae)
· Hays' sedge (Carex haysii)
· Foster's columbine (Aquilegia fosteri)

"These are unusual habitats for desert country," said Fertig.

He anticipates a colorful spring and summer for flowers, since there's been good snowfall this year.

"Flowers in the lower Zion Canyon should be good in late April and early May," said Fertig. Early June will see a burst of flowers in the park's higher elevations, he added. "We should get a second burst of flowers in the fall, if there's good monsoon activity this summer."

Zion Penstemon (Penstemon Humilis) by Bill Bouton [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Zion Penstemon (Penstemon Humilis) by Bill Bouton via Wikimedia Commons

Other plant species unique to Zion National Park include sandstone-loving Slickrock wild buckwheat (Eriogonum jamesii var. rupicola) and Zion penstemon (Penstemon humilis var. obtusifolius), the volcanic outcrop-loving Meyer's daisy (Erigeron ursinus var. meyerae) and a cliff-dweller: Ruth's chicken-sage (Sphaeromeria ruthiae).

Geologic formations drive where different plant species are found, said Fertig.


Emerald Pools Waterfall

Waterfalls in Zion National Park

Somehow, one doesn't expect desert terrain to be home of some of the world's most spectacular water features. But, Zion is full of waterfalls from snow melt.

Observation Point in Zion National Park on a cloudy day

Top 3 Vistas in Zion National Park

Get the best views in this red-rock paradise in southwestern Utah. If you want to feel on top of the world, here are three fantastic Zion hikes that offer incredible vistas.

Bryce Canyon Hoodoos

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks

These weirdly shaped rock spires that look somewhat like totem poles, are carved by water in arid environments. They can be found in Bryce Canyon and Zion in Utah


Canyons of Zion National Park

The high cliffs of Zion were formed about four million years ago through a process where layers of rock were broken, pushed up and on their side


Amphibians in Zion National Park

Frogs, toads and even a salamander are to be found in Zion National Park, thanks to the Virgin River, streams in slot canyons and even monsoon rains.

The Upper Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park

The Emerald Pools of Zion National Park

Right across the road from Zion Lodge are the Emerald Pools, a mix of trails and pools that provide easy to moderate hiking opportunities between each oasis.

Zion Canyon

Must-See Natural Wonders in Zion National Park

If you have the time and good shoes, take a ride on The Narrows, an unforgettable wade in cold waters of the Virgin River.

Video of night sky in Arches National Park on YouTube

Night Skies in Arches National Park

Time-lapse video of the Milky Way over the natural red rock arches in Arches National Park in Utah.

Broken Moqui Marbles by MostlyDeserts

Mysterious Moqui Marbles in Zion National Park

Moqui Marbles consist of a sandstone center covered by a shell of hematite, an iron ore, reported to have mystical properties and a Mars connection.