In 1872 John Wesley Powell surveyed the area and recorded the canyon's Indian name, Mukuntuweap. It was under this name that the canyon was designated a national monument on 31 July 1909 by a proclamation signed by President William Howard Taft. In 1918 it was renamed Zion National Monument; a year later, 1919, it became a national park. The first automobile road was constructed into the canyon in 1917 and the first lodge was built in 1925. The original lodge was destroyed by fire in 1966 and a new building was constructed that year. During the winter of 1989-90 the exterior of the lodge was restored to its historic architectural look.
The park's most impressive construction project, the 1.1-mile-long tunnel cut through solid sandstone, was begun in 1927 and completed in 1930 at a cost of $2,000,000. At that time many of the hiking trails within the park were undertaken, including the famous "Walter's Wiggles" section of the trail to Angels Landing, completed in 1926. Other trails and improvements in the park were undertaken by Civilian Conservation Corps crews during the 1930s. In 1937 the Kolob Canyon region was designated as a national monument, and it was incorporated into Zion National park in 1956.