Spring weather is unpredictable, with stormy, wet days being common, mixed with occasional warm, sunny weather. Precipitation is normally heaviest in March. Spring wildflowers bloom from April through June, peaking in May. Fall days are usually clear and mild; nights are often cool. Summer days are hot (95 °F to 110 °F; 35 °C to 43 °C), but overnight lows are usually comfortable (65 °F to 70 °F; 18 °C to 21 °C). Afternoon thunderstorms are common from mid-July through mid-September. Storms may produce waterfalls as well as flash floods. Autumn tree-color displays begin in September in the high country; in Zion Canyon, autumn colors usually peak in late October. Winter in Zion Canyon is fairly mild. Winter storms bring rain or light snow to Zion Canyon and heavier snow to the higher elevations. Clear days may become quite warm, reaching 60 °F (16 °C); nights are often 20 °F (−7 °C) to 40 °F (4 °C) . Winter storms can last several days and make roads icy. Zion roads are plowed, except the Kolob Terrace Road which is closed when covered with snow. Winter driving conditions last from November through March.

Notable geographical features of the park include: Virgin River Narrows, Emerald Pools, Hidden Canyon (photo), Angels Landing (photo), The Great White Throne, Checkerboard Mesa (photo), The Three Patriarchs (photo) and Kolob Arch.

History[edit source | edit]

Archaeologists have divided the long span of Zion's human history into three cultural periods: the Archaic, Protohistoric and Historic periods. Each period is characterized by distinctive technological and social adaptations.

Archaic period[edit source | edit]

The first human presence in the region dates to 8,000 years ago when family groups camped where they could hunt or collect plants and seeds. About 2,000 years ago, some groups began growing corn and other crops, leading to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Later groups in this period built permanent villages called pueblos. Archaeologists call this the Archaic period and it lasted until about 500 CE. Baskets, cordage nets, and yucca fiber sandals have been found and dated to this period. The Archaic toolkits included flaked stone knives, drills, and stemmed dart points. The dart points were attached to wooden shafts and propelled by throwing devices called atlatls.

By 300 CE some of the archaic groups developed into an early branch of seminomadic Anasazi, the Basketmakers. Basketmaker sites have grass- or stone-lined storage cists and shallow, partially underground dwellings called pithouses. They were hunters and gatherers who supplemented their diet with limited agriculture. Locally collected pine nuts were important for food and trade.

Protohistoric period[edit source | edit]

Kaun huts were used by Southern Paiute

Both the Virgin Anasazi and the Parowan Fremont disappear from the archaeological record of southwestern Utah by about 1300. Extended droughts in the 11th and 12th centuries, interspersed with catastrophic flooding, may have made horticulture impossible in this arid region.

Tradition and archaeological evidence hold that their replacements were Numic-speaking cousins of the Virgin Anasazi, such as the Southern Paiute and Ute. The newcomers migrated on a seasonal basis up and down valleys in search of wild seeds and game animals. Some, particularly the Southern Paiute, also planted fields of corn, sunflowers, and squash to supplement their diet. These more sedentary groups made brownware vessels that were used for storage and cooking.

Exploration and settlement by Euro-Americans[edit source | edit]

The Historic period begins in the late 18th century with the exploration of southern Utah by Padres Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Domínguez. The padres passed near what is now the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center on October 13, 1776, becoming the first people of European descent known to visit the area. In 1825, trapper and trader Jedediah Smith explored some of the downstream areas while under contract with the American Fur Company.

In 1847, Mormon farmers from the Salt Lake area became the first people of European descent to settle the Virgin River region. In 1851, the Parowan and Cedar City, Utah areas were settled by Mormons who used the Kolob Canyons area for timber, and for grazing cattle, sheep, and horses.[20] They prospected for mineral deposits, and diverted Kolob water to irrigate crops in the valley below. Mormon settlers named the area Kolob—in Mormon scripture, the heavenly place nearest the residence of God.[21]


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