While staying at a good friend’s house who lives in Wasatch Front a few years ago, his wife told me that their family should come down to southern Utah to visit “Zions” sometime – the national park that is only 23 miles from my home.
“You realize that you have just made Reuben cringe,” my friend said with a smirk on his face, remembering from years ago my No. 1 pet peeve.
A decade ago, I would have cringed much more than I do now and I would have corrected her on the spot, trying to ingrain it in her head that Utah’s oldest and most-visited national park is named Zion, not Zions (or Zion’s). There is not more than one Zion and an organization named Zion does not “own” the park, which an apostrophe “S” would denote.
I can cut someone like my friend’s wife some slack because she is from northern Utah, after all. What really irks me is when someone from southern Utah utters the incorrect name. I want to ask such southern Utahns if they can read signs because signs (and brochures for that matter) bearing the correct name are all over the place in southern Utah.
Ten years ago, I could not even say the name with the “S” attached out loud. Even today, I only use it in its proper place, such as when I say “Zion’s shuttle system” – something that, in a way, the park “owns.”
I blame Zions Bank for the proliferation of the abominable name. It is no wonder a bank so prominent in the state where the park is located could cause its residents to assume it shares its name with the state’s most famous scenic place.
The pet peeve is not just mine. It’s a pet peeve of my entire immediate family. My brother has always joked that saying “Zion’s National Park” is akin to saying Capitol’s Reef National Park or Bryce’s Canyon National Park. Bryce’s Canyon, however, could actually work because Ebenezer Bryce, its namesake, owned land nearby and herded cattle in land now within the park’s boundaries, but that’s a whole other story.
For now, let’s focus on the name at hand. If you’re reading this, there is now no excuse. I challenge you who have made the mistake before of adding an “S” to the name, to cease forthwith and never refer to the spectacular sanctuary by that name again!