A wildfire has forced Zion National Park officials to block public access to the Kolob Canyons area of the park. The so-called Cliff Fire was touched off by a lightning strike Tuesday night.
The speed at which the fire was moving across the landscape prompted park officials Wednesday to close the Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive along with all trails leading from it into the backcountry. Additionally, rangers led all hikers from the LaVerkin Creek Trail out of the area.
The Kolob Canyons visitor center and parking lot remain open. The closure will remain in effect until it is safe to reopen the road and trails. The Hop Valley Trail, along the Kolob Terrace Road, is also closed due to the fire.
Late Wednesday the fire was estimated at 200 acres and was burning on National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. The fire started on Black Ridge, 2 miles east of Interstate 15 and 6 miles south of the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center. It has been moving in a northeastern direction into the park’s LaVerkin Creek Drainage. It is in a very inaccessible area, making suppression efforts difficult. There are currently firefighters working on the fire. They were aided by helicopter water bucket drops and air tankers during the day. More resources were expected to be made available Thursday morning.