The Southern Paiute people occupied southern Utah for centuries until 1776, when they came into contact with the first Europeans crossing the area. The arrival of Spanish and later Euro-America resulted in the Paiute people being bound as enslaved people, and it wasn’t until the Mormons arrived in 1851 that they were freed.
Pa’rus Trail In Zion National Park involves a return trip of 3 miles on asphalt pavement navigable by wheelchair. While it is not as spectacular as other trails in Zion National Park, it is still worthwhile, and you will learn the history and see some pretty sights.
- Distance: 3 miles (5 km) round trip.
- Est hiking time: 1 hour 16 minutes
- Elevation: 9,000 ft (2,752m)
- Difficulty: Easy
Pa’rus Trail In Zion National Park Is 3 Miles Long
The Pa’rus trail is named after the Southern Paiute term meaning “bubbling water.”
It is a relatively new trail in the Zion National Park, Utah, one of the most accessible. It is paved for the whole length, which makes it wheelchair accessible.
The trail starts at an altitude of 1,189m, and over the 3-mile distance increases to 2,741m which means it rises 1,227m over the length of the trail.
- The first 500m rise by 508m
- The next 250m being flat
- The next 1,200 m rising by 480m
- After that, there is a rise of a relatively leisurely 239m
The return trip is all downhill.
It should make it manageable for a person who uses a wheelchair.
Why Should People Experience The Pa’rus Trail?
The Pa’rus Trail starts at the Zion National Park South Campground, North of the Visitor Center. This beautifully wide paved trail skirts the Virgin River and the lower section of the Zion Canyon.
The trail is situated in a picturesque part of the park, and it winds its way up the short slope to the end 1.7-mile mark. Over the length of the trail, the visitor crosses several quaint bridges which traverse the river three times, providing wonderfully beautiful views.
Several places along the route where the visitor can leave the path can walk down to the river itself. A few sites have signs reading “Do Not Hike Here,” and as these are placed to protect the visitor and preserve the environment, they must be obeyed.
While walking the route, you will be able to view the postcard’s perfect landscape and environs, but you will also see an abundance of wildflowers.
The Scenery Of The Pa’rus Trail
As you progress along the trail and proceed further north, the trail becomes more interesting and zig-zags as you move along. As the trail starts to zig-zag, the views become more spectacular.
The landscape becomes more colorful with greater varieties and quantities of wildflower growth.
There is a claim that the following wildlife has been spotted at different times.
- Mountain Lion
- Gray Fox
- Striped Skunk
- Mule Deer
- Black-tailed Jackrabbit
- Desert Cottontail
- Western Gray Squirrel
- Antelope Ground Squirrel
- Desert Kangaroo Rat
- Desert Woodrat
However, the likelihood of spotting any of these during daylight is not very real.
If you do not make too much noise, the only one you are likely to see is mule deer relaxing and grazing in the area.
Landmarks On The Pa’rus Trail
There are three man-made landmarks on the Pa’rus Trail.
Diversion Dam – Springdale
You will come across several landmarks, the most interesting of which is the old diversion dam used to shut the water to the town of Springdale.
When you reach the diversion dam, you will see a notice that explains the dam’s purpose.
It explains that the dam’s function is to shunt part of the water flow to the nearby town of Springdale. Since 1970 the Zion National Park has partnered with Springdale to ensure that clean, persistent water continues to be supplied to the city. It is one of the many ways the Zion National Park and Springdale help each other.
This cooperative relationship has been going on for centuries. Near the visitor center, you can see the remains of historic diversion dams and irrigation ditches, which Mormon settlers built to water their orchards and crops.
The Zion Museum
At the 750m mark, a dirt spur trail (which unfortunately is not wheelchair accessible) leads to the Zion Human History Museum.
The museum is laid out openly and cleanly, with distinct exhibits erected strategically to prevent crowding. The museum has several exhibits which showcase Southern Paiute, the early settler experiences, and the history of the Zion National Park and its growth into a national park.
One exhibit explores water’s impact on the park, both as creator and destroyer.
The exhibit explores water as the main drawcard that originally attracted human settlements to the park and how water has created the scenery and sanctuary that makes Zion National Park famous.
There are several temporary exhibits, including the following.
- Replicas of historic Union Pacific Railroad lodging
- Civilian Conservation Corp diaries
- Park employee photographs
There is also a 22-minute video that provides a detailed history and overview of the Zion National Park.
The rangers will answer questions and help where necessary.
The museum first opened in 1962 and has remained in continuous use for the last 60 years.
Books, maps of the Sion National Park, and posters are available in the Zion Forever Project bookstore, part of the museum complex.
Canyon Junction Bridge
At the trail’s end, it passes underneath Route Nine to end at the Canyon Junction shuttle stop.
It is an idyllic position for photographers to catch the sunset framed against the trail’s valley.
While the Zion National Park’s Pa’rus Trail may not be as spectacular or challenging as some of the others found in the park, it is enjoyable and easy to walk along. Particularly if you have small children or a member of the team who is bound to a wheelchair, they will be able to finish the whole length with fairly minimal effort.