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What was the original name of Zion National Park?

Last Update on March 11, 2024
by Marko Milin
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Zion National Park, known for its towering cliffs, deep canyons, and stunning vistas, is a place of immense natural beauty and spiritual significance. However, many visitors may not know that this iconic park was once known by a different name. The original name of Zion National Park, which holds as much history as the ancient rock layers that compose its majestic landscape, was Mukuntuweap National Monument. This name, deeply rooted in the park's early history and the cultural heritage of the Native American tribes that have lived in the area, offers a glimpse into the past and the journey to becoming the Zion we know today.

The Transition from Mukuntuweap to Zion

Mukuntuweap National Monument was established in 1909 by President William Howard Taft, recognizing the area's unique geological features and cultural importance. The name "Mukuntuweap" is believed to be derived from a Southern Paiute word meaning "straight canyon" or "straight river," aptly describing the Virgin River's path through the canyon. This designation marked the beginning of federal protection for the area, although it was relatively unknown and inaccessible to the general public at the time.

The transformation from Mukuntuweap to Zion National Park began in the early 1910s when the National Park Service sought to increase visitation and awareness of the park. The name "Zion," which means "a place of refuge" or "sanctuary," was adopted to appeal to a broader audience, reflecting the awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur of the park's landscapes. In 1919, the park was officially renamed Zion National Park, and over the years, it has become one of the most visited and beloved national parks in the United States.

Exploring Zion National Park Today

Today, Zion National Park attracts millions of visitors each year who come to marvel at its red and tan Navajo sandstone cliffs, hike its diverse trails, and explore its canyons and high plateaus. From the towering heights of Angels Landing to the serene depths of the Narrows, Zion offers a range of experiences that connect visitors with the natural world and the ancient landscapes that tell the story of the Earth's history.

Discover Zion with MaxTour

For those looking to delve deeper into the wonders of Zion National Park and the surrounding region, MaxTour offers an immersive experience with its Bryce, Zion, Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley 3-Day Tour. This comprehensive tour not only explores the beauty and geological diversity of Zion but also includes visits to other iconic landmarks of the American Southwest. With knowledgeable guides to lead the way, visitors will gain insights into the natural and cultural history that has shaped these landscapes, making for an unforgettable adventure.

The Legacy of Zion's Name

The name change from Mukuntuweap to Zion National Park reflects more than just a marketing strategy; it signifies the park's enduring allure and the sense of wonder it inspires in all who visit. Zion, with its dramatic cliffs, verdant valleys, and flowing rivers, truly is a sanctuary for both the body and spirit, offering a place of refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life.


The original name of Zion National Park, Mukuntuweap National Monument, is a reminder of the park's rich cultural heritage and the natural beauty that has captivated humans for centuries. As Zion continues to inspire awe and reverence in visitors from around the world, its history and the stories embedded in its name and landscapes serve as a testament to the enduring power of nature to shape our understanding of the world. Whether you're exploring the park on your own or as part of a guided tour like the one offered by MaxTour, Zion National Park remains a place of discovery, adventure, and inspiration.


Marko Milin

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