By Lynn Arave
EVER wonder why many of the trails in Zion National Park are paved?
It isn't just because of erosion, like in many other National Parks, nor is it a recent development.
According to the Iron County Newspaper of June 22, 1928 under the headline, "Highway and trails to be oiled," a different reason is mentioned:
"Dust blowing off the roads and trails covers the nearby plants, shrubs and trees with a coating of gray dust, which entirely destroys its freshness and beauty, and, in time may seriously injure the vegetation," the article quoted Park Superintendent E.T. Scoyen.
So, applying oil to the trails in 1928 was an experiment. Special equipment, designed by the National Park Service's Engineering division, was used in this project.
Decades later, cement and asphalt were used to cover key portions of trails.
Yes, paved trails increase the speed of hikers and help prevent erosion, but the 1928 experiment worked.