Rock fall cleanup underway; engineers deem section of cliff ‘immediate hazard’

Falling boulders cause road closure on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, Zion National Park, Utah, Sept. 24, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

SPRINGDALE — Efforts to blast the rock and clear roads after a major rock fall in Zion National Park Wednesday are not yet completed Thursday after engineers determined a section of the cliff face above the rock fall constitutes an immediate hazard. Roads remain closed into the weekend.

Falling boulders cause road closure on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, Zion National Park, Utah, Sept. 23, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News
Falling boulders cause road closure on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, Zion National Park, Utah, Sept. 23, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

Roads affected by the fall include the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, connecting to state Route 9 between Canyon Junction and the east entrance of Zion National Park.

This particular section of the road has seen rock fall periodically in the last 20 years.

“The area that the rock fall occurred in is a part of the Springdale Sandstone rock formation,” park hydrologist Dave Sharrow said. “There are cliffs that are near the road and because the road is carved into the side of the mountain rock falls can, and do, occur.”

Reopening

A section of the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway between the east park entrance and the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel will reopen Friday at 8 a.m., according to the press release. There will be no through traffic into Zion Canyon and the Springdale area. The area will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is for passenger cars only. No motorhomes, trailers or buses will be allowed due to lack of turnaround areas.


READ MORE: Major rockfall closes Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, east side of Zion Park


The usual $30 entrance fee will be collected at the entrance station for those passenger vehicles using this section of the road. The area of the reopening may be reduced if traffic congestion becomes unmanageable.

 

Map of Zion National Park highlighting alternate routes | Image courtesy of Zion National Park | Click to Enlarge
Map of Zion National Park highlighting alternate routes | Image courtesy of Zion National Park

The rock fall occurred Wednesday at 4:30 a.m. approximately 200 feet from the Pine Creek Bridge on the first switchback leading up to the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel and is blocking both lanes of the road. The largest boulder is estimated to be 200 tons and is 19 feet high, 20 feet long and 15 feet wide. The second boulder is 100 tons and is 10 feet high, 10 feet long and 15 feet wide.

Alternate routes

Alternate east and west routes are available through Highway 59 from Hurricane to Fredonia, Arizona, and Highway 14 from Cedar City to Long Valley Junction and Highway 89. People traveling to other areas of the park may access the park by traveling east on state Route 9 from Interstate 15.

Travel distance table to help commuters find appropriate alternate routes through the construction areas | Image courtesy of Zion National Park
Travel distance table to help commuters find appropriate alternate routes through the construction areas | Image courtesy of Zion National Park

All park facilities including the visitor centers, museum and campgrounds are open and operating as normal.

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8 Comments

  • Accountable September 24, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    The Park Service is charging the full $30 to enter even though there will be no parking or access to the rest of the park? I suppose this is their way to deter visitors yet appear accommodating… still, allowing all of those cars into a dead end is foolish. A better plan would be to allow parking at the east entrance and run the busses to ferry visitors in and out.

    • fun bag September 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      cluck cluck cluck is right. maybe his new name should be clucker instead of trolly? any ideas?

    • JOSH DALTON September 26, 2015 at 8:27 am

      Don’t people pay $30 to go see rocks anyway? I am pretty sure half of the people paid just to go see the rock in the middle of the road. Not only that people pay money to buy rocks that they could find on their own. Some people buy a souvenir on holiday, I buy food. GO FALCONS!

  • Dexter September 25, 2015 at 3:35 am

    Or maybe just go somewhere else.!

  • Dexter September 25, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Yawwwwwwwwwwn

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