Zion National Park Set to Celebrate Centennial This Fall

Sep 20, 2019

Leaves are starting to change, temperatures are dropping, and soon enough, Zion will erupt in celebration. That’s because this November, the park is set to celebrate 100 years since becoming a national park. Keep reading to learn how you can join in the celebrations.

Didn’t Zion Already Celebrate a Centennial?

If this coming centennial celebration feels a bit like deja vu, there’s a reason for that. In 2009, Zion National Park celebrated a different centennial. The occasion marked 100 years since it was named a national monument. On July 31, 1909, President William Taft established the park as Mukuntuweap National Monument. Just over 10 years later, Congress added more land to the monument and officially made it a national park. The name was changed at the same time, and Zion National Park was officially born.

Even though Zion had been a national park for nearly 90 years, in 2009, they hosted a centennial celebration in honor of Mukuntuweap National Monument. Dubbed “A Century of Sanctuary,” a number of events were hosted throughout the park. Utah released a special commemorative license plate to mark the occasion, while the U.S. Postal Service created a stamp in honor of the park.

“We the Keepers” Centennial Celebration Has Already Begun

This new centennial marks 100 years since Mukuntuweap National Monument became Zion National Park. This time the celebration is being called “We the Keepers.” The name reflects measures to protect the park from the damage caused by increasing numbers of visitors and other sources.

The celebration already officially kicked off in August when the Utah Symphony Orchestra teamed up with Sting for a special benefit concert. But there are plenty of other events coming up later in the year.

Zion Human History Museum and Zion Canyon Visitor Center Host Special Exhibits

Both the Zion Human History Museum and the Zion Canyon Visitor Center are putting on special events to celebrate the centennial. The Zion Human History Museum is showcasing the stories of the people who frequent Zion. Through images and artifacts, the museum will explore 100 years of a national park.

In the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, guests will be invited to write a message or draw on a postcard, detailing how they are experiencing the park. The postcards will be put on display in the visitor center. Once the celebrations are over, the postcards will then be sent back to the visitors in a wonderful gesture of extending interactions with the park.

“Centennial Artists” Flock to the Park

From November 5 to 10, eleven artists will descend on the park for several days of art demonstrations, talks, and inspiration. Featured artist Arlene Braithwaite will kick off the event with a keynote speech. Other events include live demonstrations by the featured artist and the other 10 artists joining Arlene, lectures, receptions, and more.

Zion Canyon Visitor Center to Get a New Film

Coming up next is the release of a new introductory video for the Zion Canyon Visitors Center. This video will replace the current one, which is over 20 years old. Where the current video provides an overview of the park that modern visitors no longer need thanks to the internet, the new film will instead introduce a variety of figures who interact with the park in different ways. Each will talk about what the park means to them and how they are doing their part to protect it.

The new 20-minute film will debut on November 19 at Dixie State University. The event will kick off the rest of the centennial celebration. If you can’t catch the film then, don’t fret; it will be showing daily at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center after that.

Upcoming Projects

The Zion National Park Foundation and the Park Service are working together to make positive changes in the park to celebrate its anniversary. In staying with the “We the Keepers” campaign, these changes will help reverse the impact of increasing tourism in the parks, and help to preserve it for future generations.

The first project they are kicking off is the restoration of Middle Emerald Pools Trail. Construction on the Emerald Pools Trail began in 1932, and this monumental trail was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The Lower, Middle and Upper Emerald Pool Trails are some of the most popular in the park. But the Middle Pools Trail was devastated by a landslide early in the year. The landslide wiped out the trail, making it impassable. In 2020, the Park Service and the Zion National Park Foundation will begin work on the trail.

Celebrate the Centennial

Whether you’re planning a visit to Zion National Park this fall or not, you can still join in the centennial celebration from wherever you are. 

Get inspired by the “We the Keepers” campaign and reflect on what the park means to you. Help rebuild trails with a donation to the Zion National Park Foundation. You can even join in the celebration of art by checking out the online virtual exhibit of works by the 11 featured artists before they go up for auction during a charity event.