No Filter: Exploring the seemingly impossible Virgin River Gorge

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Coming in at a whopping $100 per inch, the stretch of Interstate 15 traveling through the Virgin River Gorge was once the most expensive stretch of interstate ever built in the United States.

Originally only a slot canyon too small for a horse and incredibly arduous just to hike, the gorge has now become a thoroughfare for busy travelers, a climber’s paradise and the site of hundreds of vehicle collisions each year.

“Many people said it couldn’t be done,” No Filter host Grady Sinclair said of the construction of the Virgin River Gorge.

Watch Grady and friends learn about the impossible highway in this week’s episode of “No Filter” in the media player above.

Before the construction of the gorge, St. George was a fairly isolated town. Travelers heading toward California had to traverse Highway 91 over the Beaver Dam mountains.

In this episode of “No Filter” Sinclair chats with filmmaker Phil Tuckett, whose documentary film “My Father’s Highway” tells the story of the people who constructed the Virgin River Gorge, including Jimmie Hughes, who died making the impossible possible.

Hughes’ son, also Jimmie Hughes, is now a St. George City Councilman.

These days, the Virgin River Gorge sees thousands of drivers bustle their way along the historic freeway, not all of whom are the best of drivers.

Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Sgt. John Bottoms said that in 2019 there were 161 reported crashes, 54 of which were located within the construction zone of the latest project.

But not everything in the Virgin River Gorge is about the road. The gorge is home to over 40 climbing routes that draw world class climbers to its craggy cliffs, particularly during the mild winters.

The gorge also has a unique recreation area, complete with campground and trail access to the Virgin River.

Join Sinclair and a host of other characters and learn more about the Virgin River Gorge on this week’s episode of “No Filter.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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