The Virgin River from Scout Lookout in Zion National Park, Utah
A view from Scout Lookout in Zion National Park. The Virgin River snakes in rivulets between the steep gorge walls on either side. The area immediately next to the river is verdant with shrubs, small trees, and other plants, while the cliffs rising above it are almost entirely bare. The lookout can be reached by the West Rim Trail.
The area was protected as Mukuntuweap National Monument by President William Howard Taft in 1909 and was later renamed Zion National Park. Zion is located on the Colorado Plateau, but borders the Basin and Range Province. Elevations in the park range from 3,600 to 8,700 feet, allowing for a wide range of animal and plant life, all of which are adapted to the area’s arid conditions. Elevation differences and geologic processes such as tectonic uplift, erosion, and sedimentation have created environments ranging from high plateaus and riparian environments to deserts and deep sandstone canyons. The park is located in Washington, Iron and Kane Counties in southwestern Utah.