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Contact: David Eaker , 435-772-7811Springdale, UT- The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, connecting to State Route 9 between Canyon Junction and the East Entrance of Zion National Park, remains closed after a major rock fall. The road is expected to remain closed into the weekend. A section of the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway between the East Entrance and the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel will reopen Friday morning at 8 a.m. There will be no through traffic into Zion Canyon and the Springdale area. The area will be open from 8 a.m. –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 entrance fee is good for seven days throughout Zion National Park. The area of the reopening may be reduced if traffic congestion becomes unmanageable.
The rock fall occurred around 4:30 am on Wednesday, September 23. It is located 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, at 19 feet high by 20 feet long and 15 feet wide. The second boulder is 100 tons, at 10 feet high, 10 feet long and 15 feet wide. Zion road crews, Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Geological Survey and Federal Highway Administration engineers determined that a section of cliff face above yesterday's rock fall constitutes an immediate hazard. Additional rock will need to be removed from the cliff face before the road can be fully reopened to through traffic.
This particular section of the road has seen rock fall periodically in the last 20 years. Dave Sharrow, Park Hydrologist noted that, "the area that the rock fall occurred in, is a part of the Springdale Sandstone rock formation. 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, Utah to Fredonia, Arizona and Highway 14 from Cedar City, Utah 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.
Map of Alternate Routes