If I had a national park that I could designate my own I think this one would be it. I think I have been there a grand total of 6 times this year, and probably about 20 times in my life. I know most of the general hikes, how long they are, and have a picture or two to prove it. I even know the smell of the canyon, and yes it does have a distinct smell. I stepped out of the van two weeks back and realized that.
But there were a few things I didn’t know, one of which was the geology, until now. I can’t say I am an expert, but I do know how it was made. So that is what I will share with you today. These are common questions people have, and I plan on answering a few.
Lets begin with the first and obvious one, how did Zion’s Form?
Zions is made up of huge ancient sand dunes. As sand dunes are formed they create a pattern, like the one you see in the picture to the right. You will see this all over the park. These lines form as windblown sand falls down the steep side (down wind side) of the dune and remains there. These layers were built up over the centuries and eventually solidified. The cool thing about them, because of this specific pattering, you can see which way the sand was blowing millions of years ago.
Well these solidified sand dunes are what make up the park, and as the Colorado Plateau uplifted, the Virgin River then cut down through these sand dunes creating Zion Canyon today.
Question 2- Why is the top of Zion National Park white?
The quick answer is fossil fuels that use to flow through the rock. Yes flowing through rock. Sandstone, the stuff the park is made up of is very porous. Porous means that it can hold fluids and other material likes gases too. Well geologist think as natural gasses flowed through the rock it leached out the iron in the rock and turned the rock white. Which solves the other question why the rock is red, and that is due to iron rusting.
Final note about these porous rocks. The reason why we have Weeping Rock here in Zion is due to the sand stone and its ability to transport liquids. The water is flowing through the rock and eventually comes out of the rock.