Importance of Natural Resources

The Zion Nature Center

Hi, my name is Colton Winder and I’m a ranger
here at Zion National Park. I’d like to welcome you to the Zion Nature Center This
beautiful building was constructed in 1934 by the Utah Parks Company, a Union Pacific
Railroad concessionaire. It served as a cafeteria and office for visitors staying in the surrounding
cabins. At that time it was called the Zion Inn. It was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood
in the NPS Rustic style, which emphasized the use of native materials to construct buildings
that would blend in with the surroundings and not detract from the park’s scenic qualities.
The Zion Nature Center is an excellent example of this style.
From 1934 to 1972, the Zion Inn fed visitors in its cafeteria, provided them with souvenirs
in its gift shop, and housed them in its cabins. In 1972, the cabins were sold and moved. Many
of these cabins are in communities surrounding Zion. The Zion Inn was remodeled at this time
and became the Zion Nature School, a program for children in the park. By 1986, this would
grow into Zion’s Junior Ranger Program. The building at that time lacked heating and
insulation and could only be used during the summer.
In 2005, the Nature Center underwent restoration and was returned much to its original state,
plus heating, cooling, and making it wheelchair accessible. Effort was put into retaining
as much of the original materials as possible and the building remains a great example of
the NPS rustic style. It was rededicated in 2007 by First Lady Laura Bush, and has since
been used every summer for educational programs. Visitors are welcome to stop by the Nature
Center during the summer season, where there are many exciting exhibits and youth programs
for visitors to participate in. Programs presented at the Nature Center cover a variety of fascinating
topics concerning Zion National Park. Whether you are young or young-at-heart, make sure
you include the nature center as one of your stops and enjoy learning about the park and
interacting with its resources within the walls of one of the oldest buildings left
in Zion.

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