SPRINGDALE – The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway connecting to state Route 9 between Canyon Junction and the East Entrance to Zion National Park remains closed after a major rockfall early Wednesday morning. The road is expected to remain closed into the weekend.
The rock fall occurred prior to 4:30 a.m., 200 feet from the Pine Creek Bridge on the first switchback leading up to the Mount Carmel Tunnel, blocking both lanes of the road, according to a press release from Zion National Park.
The largest boulder is estimated to be 200 tons and is 19 feet high by 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, the press release said.
Road crews used a hoe ram to break up the boulders, but the road has not yet been cleared. Zion road crews, Utah Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration engineers will be assessing a section of cliff face above the rock fall for immediate hazards. It is possible additional rock will need to be removed from the cliff face before the road can be reopened.
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,” Dave Sharrow, park hydrologist, 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.”
Alternate east and west routes are available via Highway 59 from Hurricane to Fredonia, Arizona, and Highway 14 from Cedar City to Long Valley Junction and Highway 89.
Those traveling to Zion may access the park by traveling east on state Route 9 from Interstate 15. All park facilities, including the visitor centers, museum and campgrounds, are open and operating as normal.
- Major rockfall closes Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, east side of Zion Park
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- ‘Boulders the size of houses’; 34-mile road closure continues on Highway 89-A
- Utah Geological Survey investigation into fatal Rockville rock fall; high risk remains
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