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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
All park facilities including the visitor centers, museum and campgrounds are open and operating as normal.
- UPDATE: Rockfall closure on Zion-Mount Carmel Hwy. extended into weekend
- Major rockfall closes Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, east side of Zion Park