(Editors note: The highway is officially back open.)

This news release is from the national Park Service:

Rockfall September 23, 2015
 

News Release Date: 
September 23, 2015 

Contact: Jin Prugsawan, 435-772-7612 
Springdale, UT- The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, connecting to State Route 9, between Canyon Junction and the East Entrance remains closed after a major rock fall. The road is expected to remain closed into the weekend. 

The rock fall occurred prior to 4:30 am, 200 feet from the Pine Creek Bridge on the first switchback leading up to the Mount Carmel Tunnel 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. Road crews used a hoe ram to break up the boulders but the road has not yet been cleared. Zion road crews, Utah Department of Transportation, and Federal Highway Administration engineers will be assessing a section of cliff face above the rock fall for immediate hazards. It is possible additional rock will need to be removed from the cliff face before the road can be reopened. 

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 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.