One early visitor to Zion Canyon, Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, an artist who had been with John Wesley Powell on his second trip down the Grand Canyon in 1872, spent part of the summer of 1903 painting in Zion Canyon. The paintings were exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and an article about Zion Canyon, "A New Valley of Wonders," was published by Dellenbaugh in the January 1904 issue of Scribner's Magazine. In the article, Dellenbaugh described his first view of the Great Temple, which stands at the entrance to Zion Canyon: "One hardly knows just how to think of it. Never before has such a naked mountain of rock entered our minds. Without a shred of disguise it transcendent form rises pre-eminent. There is almost nothing to compare to it. Niagara has the beauty of energy; the Grand Canyon of immensity; the Yellowstone of singularity; the Yosemite of altitude; the ocean of power; this Great Temple of eternity."
Zion Canyon was occupied by the Anasazi people from about 1,500 to 800 year ago. Their abandoned cliff houses, rock art, and chipping sites are scattered throughout the park. The Paiute Indians occupied the canyon when Nephi Johnson arrived in 1858. The first Mormon occupant of Zion Canyon was Isaac Behunin, who built a one-room log cabin at a site near the location of Zions Lodge. Behunin named his new home Zion Canyon. He was soon joined by a few other settlers who established farms along the narrow valley floor. Later, in 1900, David Flanigan began to build a system of cable works which would provide the means to lower virgin timber to the valley floor from the high mountain forests nearly two thousand feet above the canyon.