SPRINGDALE – A major rockfall early this morning blocked the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway in Zion National Park between Canyon Junction and the east entrance of the park, closing the entire east side of the park.
The rockfall occurred on the switchbacks west of the Zion Tunnel near the Pine Creek Bridge and is blocking both sides of the road. It was first reported by a visitor at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, park spokesperson Jin Prugsawan said.
“We don’t have a report of how much in pounds, but for the rockfall, anywhere from a storage-shed-sized rock to twice that size,” Prugsawan said. “There is a lot of debris in the road as well.”
The road is closed at Canyon Junction, at the intersection where Highway 9 meets Scenic Drive, Prugsawan said.
“You can still access Scenic Drive, but you cannot go further into the park,” she said.
No injuries have been reported, no evacuations were required and there have not been any reports of visitors stranded, Prugsawan said. Due to the rock fall, emergency response is not available on the east side of Zion.
Crews will have to blast the rock and use heavy machinery to clear it, and State Route 9 is expected to reopen Wedneday evening.
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.
The south entrance to the park remains open, and visitors can still access the park by traveling east on State Route 9 from Interstate 15. All park facilities including the visitor center, museum, campgrounds, and shuttle buses are open and operating as normal.
To keep visitors informed, traffic advisory signs are being placed near Mt. Carmel Junction, Virgin and near the park’s south entrance.
The park’s short range radio broadcast systems at Mt. Carmel Junction, City of Hurricane and both park entrances will also broadcast the status of the closure.
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