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Add Zion National Park to the List Of Parks With Road Construction Nightmares Planned


Roadwork along this stretch of highway in Zion National Park will make travel into and out of the east entrance to the park nightmarish this year. NPS photo.

If you're visiting Zion National Park this year, well, enjoy the traffic. From mid-May into October there will be road work along the corridor into and out of the park's east entrance. And that means doing the "Utah two-step" from Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park or vice versa could be very trying.

Zion Superintendent Jock Whitworth says the work will involve a section of the Zion-Mt Carmel highway known as “The Switchbacks” from the junction of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to the west portal of the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel. The project will be administered by the Federal Highways Administration. Although there will be delays and short-term road closures affecting travel between Zion Canyon and U.S. Highway 89, all park visitor facilities and the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive will remain open.

People visiting Zion Canyon via the park’s South Entrance who are camping, accessing the shuttle system, staying at the Zion Lodge or in the town of Springdale will not be in the construction zone. Visitors in Zion Canyon are encouraged to use the town shuttle to avoid possible delays entering the park.

Travelers going through Zion from the South Entrance to the East Entrance, or vice versa, should expect delays and some temporary closures. Park management and the FHWA are working to manage the construction schedule for the least impact possible on travel through the park. Construction schedules are not yet available, but if much of the work can be accomplished at night, delays of up to an hour or more will occur throughout the day. If most of the work must occur during the daylight hours, daytime delays or closures may be up to 3 hours. Check the park website at weekly for updates on the construction schedule.

Bicyclists wishing to cross the park during construction will need to arrange for a private vehicle to take them through the construction zone and Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel.

Alternate routes of travel between U.S Highway 89 and Zion Canyon are Utah State Route 59 from Hurricane, Utah to Arizona State Route 389 and Fredonia, Arizona (better for large vehicles) or Utah State Route 14 from Cedar City, Utah to Long Valley Junction (high elevation/steep grades). During the construction period, travelers may want to consider using one of these roads between Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon or Grand Canyon National Parks.


The repairs are needed. The road is sagging and rocks are falling. This area is loose soil and continues to sag. It's a wonder it is there at all.

Grit your teeth. Grin and bear it. It has to be done and it can't be done in summer. Hopefully, a lot can be accomplished at night. Cooler for construction workers, too.

I hope they will continue using the red aggregate that has made Zion's roads blend so well with their surroundings. It would be pure sacrilege to swap that for plain old blacktop.

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