Carving the Canyon - FREE

by  Zion National Park

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Zion National Park’s geologic story involves deposition, uplift, and erosion, and is a stunning example of the geologic processes that created Earth. Zion National Park is located along the edge of a region known as the Colorado Plateau. The rock layers have been uplifted, tilted, and eroded, forming a feature called the Grand Staircase, a series of colorful cliffs stretching between Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. Most of the rocks in Zion National Park are sedimentary rocks –made of sand and bits and pieces of older rocks that have been weathered, eroded, and deposited in layers. Mineral-laden waters slowly filtered through the compacted sediments, and over time transformed the deposits into stone in a process called lithification.

In an area from Zion to the Rocky Mountains, forces deep within the earth started to push the surface up, eventually causing Zion’s elevation to rise from near sea level to as high as 10,000 feet above sea level. This process of uplift is still occurring today, and has resulted in the sharp erosion process that continues to carve the canyon today.

Through this program, students will gain an understanding of the unique and complex geologic story of Zion and the southwest. Students interact with park rangers via the internet to discuss the formation of the canyon, and then engage in a critical-thinking activity about erosion and engineering. 

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About This Program


Multipoint: $0.00
Multipoint Premium: $0.00
View Only: 0.00
View Only Premium: $0.00
Point to Point: $0.00
Point to Point Premium: $0.00
By Request: $0.00
By Request Premium: $0.00



50 minutes

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 4, 5, 6

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

Problem Solving, Sciences

Program Delivery Mode


Booking Information

Registration is not currently open. Check back in January 2023 for information regarding January-April 2023 learning opportunities. Please contact us at zion_education@nps.gov for more information.

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Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Zion National Park appreciates cancellations within 48 hours. Prior to our program we require a short equipment test. Our distance learning coordinator will contact you to schedule this short test.

About This Provider

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Zion National Park

Springdale, Utah
United States

Zion National Park is a place with massive sandstone
cliffs, narrow slot canyons, unique wildlife and plants, and a rich history.
Students learn about Zion National Park, the National Park Service, and the
unique ecosystems and history of the southwest as they interact in live time
with a uniformed ranger. Our free programs cover a variety of topics that bring
curriculum to life. 

Registration is not currently open. Check back in January 2023 for information regarding January-April 2023 learning opportunities.

Zion Education

Program Details


1.) Ranger will introduce the National Park Service and Zion National Park, as well as the format of the program.
2.) Deposition: Ranger will review the term deposition, and discuss the three different types of rocks. Students will then learn about paleo environments
3.) Rangers will discuss the elements that go into creating a rock, and demonstrate rock formation to the classroom through a basic ‘make a rock’ experiment.
4.) Uplift: students will demonstrate the tectonic activities of uplift
5.) Rangers will show examples of erosion and weathering throughout the park, showing how geology is still taking place in the park (videos)
6.) Critical thinking element: Rangers will pair up students, and then discuss a new project that Zion is proposing to build an additional welcome center. Students will act as geologists and hear location proposals for the new building.


Students will be able to...

• Define deposition, erosion, and weathering
• Understand the basic geologic processes of sedimentary rock and canyon forming.
• Recognize the huge expanse of geologic time and the current-day implications of geology.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

National/State Standards:
NS.K-4.2 Physical Science
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
NS.5-8.3 Life Science
NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
NSS-G.K-12.3 Physical Systems

NGSS Standards Addressed 4th grade:

ESS1.C: The History of Planet Earth
ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions