The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel
If your vehicle is 11”4 (3.4m) tall or taller or 7’10” (2.4 m) wide or wider, including mirrors, awnings, and jacks, you will need a tunnel permit.
The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel
Construction of the 1.1 mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel began in the late 1920's and was completed in 1930. At the time that the tunnel was dedicated, on July 4, 1930, it was the longest tunnel of its type in the United States. The purpose of the building the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel (and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway) was to create direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion National Park.
Tunnel Traffic Control for Oversize Vehicles
Before 1989, large vehicles, including tour buses, motor homes, and trailers, were involved in more and more accidents and near misses in the tunnel due to an immense increase in the volume of traffic and in the size of vehicles passing through the tunnel.
A study by the Federal Highways Administration in early 1989 found that large vehicles could not negotiate the curves of the tunnel without crossing the center line. To ensure safety, the National Park Service began traffic control at the tunnel in the spring of that year.
Rangers posted at both ends of the tunnel convert two-way tunnel traffic to one-way for larger vehicles, ensuring safe passage. This service, for which a $15 dollar tunnel permit fee is charged, was provided for over 27,874 oversized vehicles in calendar year 2011.
Large vehicles may only travel through the tunnel daily from:
- March 9 to May 3 from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm
- May 4 to September 6 from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
- September 7 to September 27 from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm
- September 28 to November 1 from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
- During the winter months, drivers of large vehicles must make advance arrangements at the entrance stations for the one-way traffic control service at the tunnel. Winter hours of operations for the tunnel are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
If your vehicle is 11'4" (3.4m) tall or taller or 7'10" (2.4m) wide or wider, including mirrors, awnings, and jacks, you will need a tunnel escort.
Obtaining a Tunnel Permit
- Have your vehicle measured at the entrance station when you arrive at the park. Any vehicle that is 7 feet 10 inches (2.4 meters) in width and/or 11 feet 4 inches (3.4 meters) in height or larger is required to have a tunnel permit.
- Pay $15.00, in addition to the park entrance fee, for the tunnel permit at the entrance station before proceeding to the tunnel.
- Drive to the tunnel during the tunnel hours of operation (posted seasonally).
- Tunnel traffic control will be provided by friendly NPS rangers.
- Your $15.00 tunnel permit is good for two trips through the tunnel for the same vehicle within seven days of purchase.
Vehicles over 13 feet 1 inch tall, Semi-trucks, vehicles carrying hazardous materials, vehicles weighing more than 50,000 pounds, single vehicles over 40 feet long, combined vehicles over 50 feet long. All Bicycles. Pedestrians.
The Zion Tunnel Today
Today the tunnel is basically the same as it was upon its completion over eighty years ago. However, because of the softness of the sandstone through which it passes, much reinforcing has been done and concrete ribs now give added support to the the tunnel's entire length. Collapse of a sandstone pillar west of Gallery #3 in 1958 broke the top out of that gallery and flushed tons of debris into the tunnel, causing its closure for several weeks. Because of that collapse, the tunnel is now monitored electronically twenty-four hours a day to warn park officials to the danger of a reoccurrence.
The Zion Mount Carmel Tunnel is one of the busiest areas in the park. Through the years there have been major and minor accidents as well as many close calls involving pedestrians, oversize vehicles, tunnel ranger staff, and regular vehicle traffic.
When approaching the tunnel be aware of your surroundings and slow down. Watch for tunnel rangers, pedestrians and other traffic. DO NOT STOP in the tunnel. Please proceed beyond the tunnel kiosk before attempting to turn around at either side of the tunnel. Obey all traffic directions from the tunnel rangers.
BE AWARE that rangers at the tunnel are conducting traffic control operations.
Please DO NOT STOP in the tunnel or try to turn around at either tunnel entrance.