Southern Utah News Articles
Several popular trails remain closed at Zion
Several popular Zion National Park trails remain closed due to substantial damage from an intense thunderstorm on Wednesday, July 11. The trails, including Angels Landing, Kayenta, Upper Emerald Pools, West Rim from the Grotto Trailhead to Cabin Spring, and the far end of Lower Emerald Pools Trail, will remain closed until trail crews, with the help of engineers, can repair or re-route the trails. In the meantime, the affected trails are unsafe and closed to visitors.
Engineers and trail staff have been assessing the damage on each of the trails over the past few days and further engineering assessments will continue next week. In most of the drainages within Zion Canyon they have found at least minor damage to trail surfaces, culverts, and/or retaining walls. In three sections, the damage was substantial and created safety issues due to extensive rock falls, trail and wall failures and loss of structural integrity from undermining erosion. These three sections are Refrigerator Canyon on West Rim Trail, a large section of Kayenta Trail, and the far end of Lower Emerald Pools Trail.
In Refrigerator Canyon, an area visitors must pass through on their way to or from Angels Landing, a section of retaining wall failed, causing an 18 foot gap in the trail that is over five feet deep. As a result, the West Rim Trail between Cabin Spring (near wilderness campsite #1) and the Grotto Trailhead in Zion Canyon is closed. This includes Zion’s popular Angel’s Landing Trail. Visitors are encouraged to use Observation Point Trail or Hidden Canyon Trail as alternatives. The West Rim campsites are open and accessible from the Lava Point Trailhead.
On Lower Emerald Pools Trail, a 20-foot by 10-foot boulder fell that was supporting part of the trail, leaving a deep void in the trail. Two large retaining walls underlying and supporting the trail also failed. The Lower Emerald Pools waterfall is still visible from the Lower Emerald Pools Trail, but visitors can no longer walk behind the waterfall. Riverside Walk or the Pa’rus Trail are recommended as alternatives.
On the Kayenta Trail, numerous large boulders fell and completely crushed approximately 50 feet of trail, rendering it impassable at this time.
Upper Emerald Pools Trail is also closed because there is no way to access the trail without hiking either Lower Emerald Pools Trail or the Kayenta Trail, which are both damaged and closed.Watchman Trail is suggested as an alternative for Upper Emerald Pools Trail and Kayenta Trail.
Park staff and engineers continue to identify strategies to fix or re-route the trails safely. “While we are examining possible temporary re-routes to open trails, cliffs and steep terrain limit those opportunities,” said Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. “Extensive repair work will be required before some trails can be opened. Given the engineering and extensive repairs required, it is too soon to estimate when each closed trail may again be open to visitor use. Trails will be opened as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we urgently request visitors adhere to the closures to avoid risk of injury.”
Closures are being enforced due to unstable and unreliable trail integrity. Violating a posted closure may result in a fine.