Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Business caters to those wishing to explore Zion National Park

July 15, 2009, 7:41 am
For Zion Adventure Company co-founder Jonathan Zambella, downsizing led to his dream job.

In 1995, he was working as a banker in Pennsylvania but lost his job due to downsizing, giving him the "opportunity to be unemployed." Zambella, an avid rock climber, knew he didn't want to stay in the financial sector.

"I said, 'I don't want a job. I want to create my own job,'" says Zambella from a loft overlooking the floor of his Springdale-based business.

Enjoying his severance package, Zambella spent some time leading outdoor adventure trips with a climbing buddy, Rick Pratzel, for Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn. They also made a trip out west to climb at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas.

While climbing at Red Rock Canyon, Pratzel mentioned to Zambella that he had hiked the Narrows in Zion National Park with his son. After 10 days of climbing six of the climbers decided to take a break and drove to Zion in the middle of the night, arriving after dark to camp at the Watchman Campground. It was Zambella's first visit to the park.

The next morning, Valentine's Day 1996, he looked out the flap of his tent and saw West Temple looming high above him - his first glimpse of Zion.

They began the day with one of the park's most popular hikes.

"When we got to the top of Angel's Landing I was in awe," Zambella remembers. "I looked at my friends and said, 'I want to live here.'"

It was then that Pratzel first mentioned a business idea to Zambella that would eventually become Zion Adventure Company. Hiking was still the top priority of the day so they continued on to the Temple of Sinawava, where Zambella first experienced the cold waters of the Virgin River for himself.