Rockfalls, mudslides close trails in Zion National Park

This January 2017 file photo shows the closure of the Lower Emerald Pool Trail and Sand Beach Trail in Zion National Park because of rockfalls, mudslides and other dangerous conditions, Jan. 11, 2017, Zion National Park, Utah | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

SPRINGDALE — Visitors to Zion National Park are warned to stay out of the Lower Emerald Pool Trail and Sand Bench Trail area because of rockfalls, mudslides and other dangerous conditions, park officials said Wednesday.

Both trails are impassable and unsafe for hikers. Park officials have closed the trails until further notice, according to John Marciano, Zion National Park spokesman.

Recent winter weather, snow, ice and rain have caused several rock and debris slides along the Lower Emerald Pool Trail and river undercutting on the Sand Bench Trail, between the Lodge and Court of the Patriarchs.

A hazardous weather outlook issued by the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City Wednesday states snow will continue to bring winter conditions above 5,500 feet to central and Southern Utah late Wednesday evening through Friday. Strong, gusty southwest winds are also expected with more snow and rain settling into the valleys as the weekend arrives.

Marciano said the Zion National Park trail crew and geologists will be able to safely assess the damage once the areas dry out, which is not expected before Monday.

Visitors must stay out of both areas as rockfalls and undercutting continue to occur. The Lower Emerald Pools Falls are visible from the 2 mile round trip Kayenta Trail, as are the middle and upper Emerald Pools. The Sand Bench Trail Loop is open from the Court of the Patriarchs.

Visitors to Zion should be extra careful this time of year, as saturated soils and freezing and thawing are the main causes of rockfalls in the canyon. Trails will be icy and often snow packed with the potential for deep snow drifts and slides at higher elevations.

Resources

Zion National Park website

National Weather Service/Salt Lake City website

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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