There are sixty-one registered historic structures in Zion National Park, the buildings of the Zion Lodge complex being among them.

The Union Pacific Railroad and its subsidiary, the Utah Parks Company, completed a railway line near Cedar City in 1923, granting visitors of Zion National Park an easy and convenient method of travel from the railway station to the park by motorbus. The Union Pacific also collaborated with the Park Service to build hotels along its routes to attract customers for each company, resulting in the construction of Zion Lodge, an in-park hotel where guests could stay during their travels. Stephen Mather, director of the National Park Service, initially balked at Union Pacific’s desired size for the lodge and requested something smaller. In the end, each side compromised to build a medium-sized lodge that blended into its natural surroundings inside the heart of the canyon. 

Gilbert Stanley Underwood, an American architect who studied at Yale and Harvard, worked with the Utah Parks Company to design the structure, and construction began in 1923. Underwood envisioned the lodge as a warm and inviting atmosphere for guests. The building incorporated 265,000 board feet of lumber from the Colorado Plateau brought down by the Cable Mountain Draw Works, a mechanism of wires and pulleys extending from the top of the canyon to an area 2,000 feet below. Construction teams finished the lodge in May 1925, and the park held a small dedication ceremony on the front lawn. The later addition of individual cabins to the lodging accommodations in Zion signaled a milestone in park success and development.

The original lodge featured natural wood design, locally sourced stone for the entrance columns, and a green roof that harmonized the building with its surrounding canyon and forest environment. The original structure served visitors and staff for over forty years until it was lost to a fire on January 26, 1966. But in only 108 days, crews constructed a new building to replace the original lodge. The new lodge continues to offer a variety of accommodations.

In addition to being the only place inside Zion that serves food, at the lodge visitors can also attend or embark on ranger-led activities such as patio talks, guided hikes, shuttle bus tours, and outdoor evening programs. To access the lodge, visitors who are staying overnight must present a permit that allows car access up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Otherwise, catching a ride on the shuttle takes visitors to the lodge and nearby trailheads. The park’s swift move to replace Zion Lodge after the fire and maintain accommodations shows the Service’s commitment to visitors and the importance of the lodge to Zion National Park.

Images

Probable dedication of Zion Lodge
Probable dedication of Zion Lodge Believed to be at the 1925 dedication of the Zion Lodge, a small crowd gathers around the lawn with the scenic cliffs of Zion and the Great White Throne in the background. Source:

 “Zion Lodge, probably 1925 dedication.” Courtesy of Zion National Park Museum (ZION 14982) and Digital Archive on NPGallery. https://npgallery.nps.gov/ZION/AssetDetail/e6145ecce34b4253bc8fc84615eeb199.

Cable Mountain Draw Works
Cable Mountain Draw Works Two men at the Draw Works above Zion Canyon oversee operations lowering lumber into the canyon. Source:

“Cable Mountain Draw Works.” Courtesy of Zion National Park Museum (ZION 12421). https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/historyculture/cable-mountain-draw-works.htm.

Fire of 1966
Fire of 1966 A fire still smolders over the Zion Lodge main building in January 1966. Source:

“Destructive Fire in Zion Lodge, Record of the Firefighting Efforts and Damage.” Allen R. Hagood, January 1966. Courtesy of Zion National Park Museum (ZION 8680) and Digital Archive on NPGallery. https://npgallery.nps.gov/ZION/AssetDetail/d2918404a8634c5e84eb751b74d459f5.

“A house for boarding”
“A house for boarding” The historic Zion Lodge provides the only visitor accommodations inside Zion National Park. Source:

“The Zion Lodge.” Brian Whitehead. Courtesy of the National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/places/zion-lodge.htm.

Location

Metadata

Jennifer John, Northern Arizona University, “Zion Lodge,” Intermountain Histories, accessed February 28, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/602.