The Zion Lodge
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion Lodge Virtual Tour
Your virtual tour guide: Jess Stryker
- Quick look at Zion Lodge. A very short version of this tour. Includes a few photos of the lodge and cabins, and also photos of the interiors of typical guest rooms.
- References/ Bibliography. Sources for additional information on the lodge for those who want to research even deeper than what is offered here.
The Zion Lodge Historical District:
Welcome to Zion National Park! There are 61 registered historic structures in the park. If you like old buildings, bridges, walls, trails, etc., there are plenty to see here at Zion! For this tour, we're going to focus on the concession buildings associated with the Zion Lodge complex. These buildings were all built by the Union Pacific Railroad to promote use of the railroad by tourists. Visitors rode the train to Cedar City, Utah. From there touring cars or buses took them to the Zion Lodge. (Note that some of the photos that follow were created by splicing together several photos. This is why there are shade changes and misaligned edges in some of the photos.)
Gilbert Stanley Underwood:
All the historic buildings in this virtual tour were designed by the architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, and represent some of his earliest work. Mr. Underwood is considered a master at taking the rustic architectural style used by the park service and translating it for use on the larger, more complex hotel buildings found in many of the National Parks. If you compare these buildings at Zion to his later work at Bryce Canyon and The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, you can see the progression of his skills as he refined them over the years. (He also had bigger budgets to work with on some of the later work, which allowed the use of more architectural detail!)
The Zion Lodge Design:
Underwood's first design for the Lodge was a typical large hotel building. The railroad wanted a large upscale hotel suited to the wealthy tourists that used the railroad. The Park service had the right to review and approve the building designs, since the facility was going to be in the National Park, and Stephen Mather, the Park Service Director, rejected this first design. Mr. Mather pushed Underwood to create something simpler, more in harmony with the site. He wanted to see something smaller, and more like the rustic architecture already used on the Park Service owned buildings within the Park.
A new plan was developed by Underwood, consisting of a compromise. A central lodge building would contain the guest lobby, rest rooms, a store, and a restaurant. Two groups of cabins provided for guest accommodations, a group of basic cabins without baths, and another group of upscale cabins with baths. A pool and pool house (now removed), bakery, barbershop, employee dorms, and a few miscellaneous buildings completed the Lodge Complex design. A separate support complex a short distance away at Birch Creek would house vehicles and horses.
The proposed architecture for the buildings was a cross between the rustic park service buildings, with lots of sandstone masonry, and the clean lines of the wood frame hotel desired by the railroad. The building designs were standard wood-frame construction, but to make them feel more rustic (and save lots of money!) they would not have exterior siding, the wood frame studs would be open and exposed. To add to the rustic look they would also have sandstone foundations, chimneys and columns. This new plan was approved by the Park Service, and the Zion Lodge and Birch Creek complexes were built and operated by a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad under the name Utah Parks Company (to make it look less like a railroad monopoly!)
The buildings we will look at on this virtual tour are:
- Zion Lodge Building.
- Deluxe Cabins (Western Cabins)
- Hotel Units
- Women's Dorm
- Men's Dorm
- Bake Shop
- Mattress Shed
- Horse Barn
- Machine Shop
- Auto/Bus Storage Sheds
- Zion Cafeteria
Oops, almost forgot in my excitement over the buildings. There is a lot of beautiful scenery in Zion National Park also!
The Main Lodge Building
If the video is not visible above this line, Turkey Mating Dance.
Some Zion National Park Scenery:
Next, the restored historic Western/Deluxe cabins.
More... next page of the tour!
Historic Hotels & Lodges