Over the past five years, I have been to Zion National Park four times. Each time I couldn’t help but look up at the massive cliff walls that surrounded me. It wasn’t until just this week that I climbed up to the top of one of those cliffs and gazed upon the magnificence of the canyon. I think about where this beauty comes from. I think about why it is named Zion or why the upper portion of the park is called Kolob. These names are words of significance to the people who settled the area in the late 1800s similar to the Temple of Sinawava with its significance to the native peoples of the area.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fled their home on the Mississippi River for fear of more religious persecution, what drove them out of New York, Ohio and Missouri before Illinois. Many times this was violent mob persecution including tar and feathering, arson, rape, and murder. Soon after their prophet, Joseph Smith, was martyred, the Mormon Pioneers headed west following a vision Smith had of his people settling in the Rocky Mountains.
Brigham Young, the great colonizer of the West, led the migration, similar only to Moses and the children of Israel’s sojourn. Many of these American Pioneers felt like they were going to a promised land of their own. They settled in today’s Utah. Young sent many to settle in places where natural resources could be found and different crops could be grown promoting a self-sustaining community life-style. This colonizing effort led to people settling the area around Zion. To them this was their Zion or place of refuge where they felt they would be free from persecution and mobs.
The name Kolob is also from Mormon theology. It comes from a translation of papyrus by Joseph Smith now called The Book of Abraham. In this book there are two drawings covered with basic interpretations. The second includes in the center a mountainous object, which is interpreted to represent Kolob or the place nearest to where God resides. This symbol looks extremely similar to the cliffs in Kolob Canyons.
Zion has rich beauty and resources, and it has rich historical, cultural and sacred meanings. I hope when you have an opportunity to visit places like Zion you will not just think about the beauty around you but the origin of that beauty also. Your adventure will mean much more to you when you do this and try to learn as much as you can about the place you are visiting.
I love Zion National Park. I’m happy I could visit and partake of its splendor once again and this time with a different point of view. I hope I will have a chance to visit other national parks this summer. I will keep you up to date on my adventures. Keep me posted on yours too. Send me a message as a comment below, on Twitter, on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Now go and have another adventure!