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Zion National Park  The official Instagram account of Zion National Park.

Happy Spring!
Today is the vernal equinox, when the length of day and night is the same and the official start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Zion may have just gotten snow, but there are signs of the coming season if you look close enough. •
Claret cup cactus buds are visible. These will become brilliant red flowers and are some of our showiest spring blooms. •
The extra spring moisture supports the fruiting bodies of fungus. This earthstar fungus has popped up on a few of our trails. •
One of the earliest spring bloomers is a flowering shrub, the manzanita. The small, pinkish white, bell-shaped flowers can already be found! • [Image descriptions: close up photos of 1) earthstar fungus, 2) manzanita, and 3) claret cup cactus.]

"Why do glorious waterfalls appear, only to vanish in the blink of an eye?" -Zion Orientation Film

Rain that falls in Zion lands on mostly bare rock. Without deep soils to slow it down, the water runs off very quickly, creating temporary waterfalls in many locations. This amazing phenomenon is beautiful to observe, but also makes slot canyons dangerous places to be when rain is in the forecast. •
Rainy days take a little more planning to enjoy, but the scenery doesn't disappoint. Waterfalls like this one, located at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop, can be seen only during and shortly after a rainfall. •
If you are visiting this spring, be prepared for the conditions by bringing warm layers, rain gear, and traction devices for your shoes. •
[Video description: a tall waterfall cascades down red sandstone.]

It has been 100 years since the name Zion was first officially used for this canyon. •
When Zion Canyon received its first Federal protection in 1909, it was known as Mukuntuweap National Monument. Mukuntuweap is a Southern Paiute word that is sometimes translated as "straight canyon". It is easy to see what might have been meant by this description. •
Mukuntuweap's popularity grew, but the name was hard for westerners to say. President Woodrow Wilson issued an executive proclamation on March 18, 1918 enlarging the monument from 15,840 acres to 76,800 acres and changing its name to Zion National Monument. •
The following year, Senator Smoot introduced a Senate bill, which would transform Zion National Monument into a national park. On November 19, 1919, President Wilson signed the bill into law establishing Zion National Park as Utah's first national park.

[Image description: almost vertical canyon walls of red sandstone extend into the distance as trees and a river occupy the valley between.]

We're feeling pretty green today! •
[Image descriptions: close ups of green plants including 1) maidenhair fern 2) manzanita and 3) moss.]

"Silence alone is worthy to be heard" - Henry David Thoreau

Part of the National Park Service mission is to preserve unimpaired the natural resources of our parks. Here in Zion that includes the natural sounds of the desert and canyon. From waterfalls rushing over sandstone cliffs, to the call of the canyon wren breaking through still silence, these soundscapes are part of what make Zion so remarkable

During high visitation, these auditory experiences can be hard to come by in the busy main canyon. Do your part to mitigate unnecessary noise pollution by silencing your cell phone, and keeping speakers off of the trails. Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience silence, and the beauty of Zion's natural soundscape. •
Image description: a muddy Virgin River topples over sandstone rocks, with cloud covered cliffs peeking out behind it.

Bighorn sheep have special adaptations that allow them to move through the steep terrain that they use to avoid predators. Their hooves are spongy compared to other ungulates. This allows them to better grip the slopes, like a good set of approach shoes. They also have great reflexes, which can help if a last second adjustment is necessary. •
The sheep in this video show their physical ability by leaping up a vertical section of rock. As they continue travelling along the slickrock, many animals would have a hard time walking in their hooves. •
[Video description: a group of bighorn sheep move effortlessly across the steep slickrock of Zion.]

Our volunteers care so much about Zion that they spend time polishing the rocks! •
Not quite! This volunteer is cleaning graffiti off rocks along the Riverside Walk. Unfortunately, graffiti is all too common on our trails. Scrapes on rocks, cuts on a tree, muddy hand prints, and drawing in the sand are all varying degrees of vandalism. •
Zion preserves some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world. We want everyone to get to enjoy it just the way it is. No one comes to Zion to see graffiti so please leave the rocks the way they are. There is nothing you can do to improve them. Our volunteers would love to stop "polishing" the canyon and spend their time improving visitors' experience in other ways. •
Our national parks belong to everyone, and we all bear responsibility for protecting them and passing them unimpaired to future generations. Please feel free to remind your fellow visitors that graffiti is not cool.

#LeaveWhatYouFind #LNT #LeaveNoTrace
[Image description: A man in a volunteer uniform uses water and a brush to remove graffiti scraped into a rock along Riverside Walk.]

Buds on the claret cup cactus are getting ready to bloom. The bright red flowers are some of our most obvious early spring color. •
[Image description: close up of small spiny cactus barrels that each have dark red buds.]

Our shuttle bus fleet is back in action! Beginning today, through November 2018, access to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is by shuttle bus only. •
The first park shuttle will leave the Visitor Center at 7:00 am. The last shuttle will leave the Temple of Sinawava at 8:15 pm. Shuttles should be available every few minutes during the day. •
Parking is limited in Zion and all available spots are usually full by 10:00 am. Please plan to arrive early to avoid traffic and parking congestion. If parking in the park is full, you can park in the town of Springdale, just outside the South Entrance. •
The Springdale shuttle is running a modified route until construction on SR-9 is finished. Shuttle service will only be provided at stops 1 through 5 in Springdale. Springdale shuttle service begins at 8:10 am with the last shuttle heading into Springdale at 9:00 pm. •
Keep in mind that construction on SR-9 in Springdale is still producing a 30 -
60 minute delay. SR-9 (known as the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway within the park) is open for private vehicles. There are limits on large vehicles that want to pass through the tunnel. •
[Image description: a close up of the front of the shuttle bus.]

•Fun Fact Friday•
Cryptobiotic soil, also known as biological soil crust, is a community of living organisms on the surface of soil. If you think that "cryptobiotic" sounds like the name of a superhero, you're not wrong. Cryptobiotic soil plays an important role here in Zion, and throughout many desert ecosystems. From increasing nutrients for plants, to preventing soil erosion, cryptobiotic soil really saves the day. •
Biological soil crust is also very fragile. One step on these tiny towers can destroy hundreds of years of work, and it may never recover. Please stay on trails in order to mitigate your impact while here. •
Image description: small towers of red and dark brown soil rise from the sand, with a lush, green juniper in the background.
#funfactfriday #stayontrail #dontbustthecrust

You know that old saying, "Take only photos, leave only footprints"? Well, we don't think it's even necessary to leave footprints! One important way to leave no trace is to travel and camp on durable surfaces. By using established trails and campsites or exposed slickrock, you can protect vegetation and prevent erosion. •
Creating social trails damages park resources and can lead others astray. Cutting switchbacks can increase erosion around trails making trail closures for costly construction projects more frequent. Restoration and revegetation projects often depend on visitors not trampling new plants. Support the hard work of rangers and volunteers by sticking to the trail.

Stay on the main trail and walk single file to protect vegetation. Keep natural areas looking natural by steering clear of flowers, cryptobiotic soil crusts, and small trees. Once damaged, they might never grow back. •
Our national parks belong to everyone, and we all bear responsibility for protecting them and passing them unimpaired to future generations. Please feel free to remind your fellow visitors to not leave the trail.

#StickToTheTrail #LNT #LeaveNoTrace #GivePlantsaChance

[Image description: A trail sign shows a boot print with a red slash crossing it out, and yet there are footprints in the soft dirt beyond the sign.]

With the new precipitation that fell over the weekend, we now have total snow coverage of the higher elevations of the park. Snow and ice may be present on all trails. Traction devices for your boots are highly recommended. •
March is typically the wettest month at Zion and, on average, the snow pack reaches its peak in the third week. If you are planning a wilderness trip in Zion for spring break, be prepared for winter camping conditions including travel over deep snow. Things to remember: - Have a backup plan. Space is limited and conditions can change. - Currently, snowshoes would be overkill but traction devices are necessary.
- It is unlikely that you will be able to drive to trailheads at Wildcat Canyon, Lava Point, and Chamberlain's Ranch. Roads to those locations are impassible in these conditions. - Overnight lows will be below freezing. Come prepared for cold weather conditions. - Fires are prohibited in the wilderness. Bring proper gear to keep you warm and occupied without a campfire. - Trails are hard to follow when they are covered in snow. Be prepared to route find. - Frozen ground is hard to dig in. Winter standards include packing out your human waste in a wag bag. •
[Image description: The sun shines on snow covered Checkerboard Mesa.]

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