Zion has a scale and grandeur that can be appreciated on a leisurely drive through the park or, even better, from a hike to the top of Angel's Landing, 1,500 feet above the canyon floor.
Zion is located along the edge of the Colorado Plateau. Over millions of years, the earth's crust in this region has been uplifted, tilted, and eroded, forming a feature called the Grand Staircase, a series of colorful cliffs that steps down from Bryce Canyon in the west to the Grand Canyon in the east. The bottom layer of rock at Bryce Canyon is the top layer at Zion, and the bottom layer at Zion is the top layer at the Grand Canyon.
Over the centuries, Zion's elevation rose from near sea level to as high as 10,000 feet above sea level. This uplift gave the streams greater cutting force and more power to move larger boulders and volumes of sediment. Since the uplift began, the Zion's Virgin River has carried away several thousand feet of rock. As a magnitude 5.8 earthquake demonstrated in 1992, the uplifting continues in present times.
For more information about U.S. National Parks in general, visit the web site of the National Park Service.