June 26th, 7:01pm
Lyman Hafen is THE guy for Zion National Park. At least, the one name that everyone recommended we speak to. Author, historian, and executive director of the Zion Natural History Association, whose family settled along the Virgin River 6 generations ago, Lyman enthusiastically welcomed us into his office for a conversation.
Founded in 1929, the Zion Natural History Association produces publications and interpretive materials about the park, with a percentage of all proceeds going back to support the park. Lyman has written the introduction to almost every publication they’ve published. The association also plays the same role for nearby Pipe Spring and Cedar Breaks National Monuments. He is the author of 16 books himself, on topics as varied as cowboy culture, growing up in Southwest Utah, and the story of Zion.
From his experience, most people that visit Zion are curious first about the geology. “This is where the earth opens itself up and says ‘here’s my story.’” Zion Natural History Association’s book, “Water, Rocks, Time” is the definitive text about the geologic processes at work in Zion. Lyman was eager to tell of the long history of human settlement, and how the name Zion tells of this place’s history as a place of refuge. The Paiute people moved through this canyon first, followed by Mormon pioneers looking to expand their territory and grow cotton. There are even dinosaur tracks in the park, though no map will help you find them. The story of the 1900s, of becoming “Mukuntuweap” National Monument in 1909, and the creation of Zion National Park in 1919, is the story of the whole world discovering this place.
Just after our conversation Lyman led us into the warehouse, where he pulled book after book, some which were out of print, to aid us in our research. We’re sure we’ll be in touch with Lyman, asking his permission to share some of the great stories hidden in this pile of books with you!