UPDATED: Zion Roads and Trails closed following rock slides and flooding

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UPDATE Friday July 13th 4:30 p.m.

The Mt. Carmel Highway through the park is now open.

UPDATE Friday July 13th 1:46 p.m.

Damages in Refrigerator Canyon | Photo Courtesy of Zion National Park

After removal of 3 feet of sand, debris and rockfall, the Riverside Walk has been reopened in Zion. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, as well as the trails listed in the update below remain closed. The Highway along with Angles Landing, Kayenta,Upper Emerald Pools trails and the West Rim Trail from the Grotto to Cabin Springs remain closed.

Shuttle Services

Shuttles have resumed their normal route withe opening of the Riverwalk Trail, with the exception of the Grotto Shuttle Stop.

Mt. Carmel Highway

Three to four feet of mud covered the Mt. Carmel Highway in several areas and overwhelmed the road drainage culverts which made the road impassable, leaving dozens of vehicles stranded in tunnel or stuck in the mud. Road crews were able to plow a path for the vehicles to exit late Wednesday night.  Crews are still estimating access will be granted to the highway in the late afternoon.

Damages to the Lower Emerald Pools Trail | Photo Courtesy of Zion National Park

 

Trail Closures

Among the closures, a section of the Refrigerator Canyon area of the West Rim Trail has lost a section of the retaining wall, which has created a 5 by 8 foot gap in the trail. Park officials are encouraging visitors to use the Observation Point Trail or the Hidden Canyon Trail as alternatives to the West Rim & Angels Landing Trails.  However, West Rim campsites remain open and are accessible from the Lava Point.

Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services, Aly Baltrus stated, “Both trails at the Grotto suffered major damage. It will be a while before they open.”

Emerald Pools Trails

Major damage has been done to a significant portion of the Emerald Pools Trails, closing the majority of the trail. A 20 by 10 foot boulder which supported part of the Lower Emerald Pools Trail fell during the storm leaving a deep hole. The trail also lost two large retaining walls due to the rainfall.

Damages along the Kayenta Trail | Photo Courtesy of Zion National Park

 

Kayenta Trail

Several boulders fell and crushed around 50 feet of the Kayenta trail causeing the Kayenta Trail, Upper Emerald Pools Trails and a short section of the Lower Emerald Pools Trail have closed and will not reopen until repairs have been made.  Visitors can still see the Lower Emerald Pools waterfall from the trail, but are not allowed to walk behind it. Park officials recommend as alternative hikes, the Watchman Trail, Weeping Rock and the Riverside Walk.

Estimated trail reopening dates will not be released until further engineering assessments of the damaged areas are completed.

UPDATE Friday July 13th 10 a.m.

As of late Thursday Night the following closures remain in effect for the Zion National Park Area:

– Riverside Walk/The Narrows: Depending on the verdict of damage assessment after last night’s storm, the trail is anticipated to open up later this morning.

-Upper Emerald Pools: Currently inaccessible and closed from extensive trail damage leading to that location.

-Lower Emerald Pools: Open only to the Alcove near the connecting point for the Upper Emerald Pools trail.

-Kayenta Trail: Closed due to damage

-West Rim Trail from the Grotto Trailhead: (Where the Angels Landing Hike start) This trail is closed due to damage in Refrigerator Canyon.

– West Rim Trail from Lava Point to Cabin Spring: Open, but closed beyond Cabin Spring due to wildfire ignition.

The Mount Carmel Highway is expected to open up later this afternoon depending on the completion of clearing the debris from the highway.

 

As of Wednesday, Zion National Park has indefinitely closed access to the following locations, after having received 3 inches of rainfall:

  • Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
  • The road between Canyon Junction and Zion’s East Entrance
  • All trails north of the Grotto, due to damages from the storm

Along the switchbacks below the tunnel of the east side of the Park, rock slides and flooding occurred. Guests will now need to detour around the closure using either SR 59/389 if heading south, or using SR 14 if heading north.

As of 9 a.m. on Thursday morning, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive has reopened to the park shuttles and lodge guests. Shuttles are only able to travel as far as the Grotto Shuttle Stop before turning around. Park guests are not allowed to walk the road.

Road crews are continuing in assessments of the damage before they begin removing debris to begin repairs to reopen the roads. According to Zion National Park’s Chief of Interpretation & visitor services, Aly Baltrus, the majority of the damage includes mud and small debris. 

While assessments and repairs are set to be underway, the park does not currently have an estimated time as to when the roads will reopen, but will address it once the damage has been assessed. 

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