Not only will the upcoming road work in Zion National Park make it tough for travelers using the east entrance to Zion, but it also will result in restricted access to some technical canyoneering routes.
Zion Superintendent Jock Whitworth says the restrictions will be enforced beginning in mid-May when construction begins on the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway. The affected canyons at this time are Pine Creek, Spry and Keyhole.
Backcountry permits will not be issued for Pine Creek Canyon during the construction period of mid-May to October, the park says. The Pine Creek Canyon route ends in the construction zone affecting 3.5 miles of roadway on the switchbacks of the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway. Vehicles will not be allowed to stop or park in the construction zone while work is in progress. Because of the size of the road project, there is not a viable alternative route for canyoneers to go around the work zone. Additionally, there will be less parking available at the beginning of the route as that area will be needed for large construction vehicles to turn around.
Spry Canyon permits will not be issued while construction is occurring between the Pine Creek Bridge and the Canyon Junction. When the roadwork is complete in that area, the park will resume issuing Spry permits. The construction schedule for that section of roadway is not yet known. Permits for Spry Canyon will remain available on a walk-up basis up to one day before the date of the trip from May 1 until the construction starts.
Because of the uncertainty of the construction schedule, advance reservations for Keyhole Canyon are being stopped on June 15. After June 15, permits for Keyhole Canyon will be available on a walk-up basis up to one day before the date of the trip. When the construction schedule is finalized, a date for reservations to start again will be determined and posted on the park website.
When construction starts in mid-May, people accessing hiking routes on the east side of Zion National Park using the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway should plan on delays and temporary closures of 1-3 hours in their travel time. Restrictions on all permits will be lifted when the road project is completed in October.
Updates on the availability of permits for canyoneering routes will be available on the park website at www.nps.gov/zion or by calling the backcountry desk at 435-772-0170. Road information is also available on the website or by calling 435-772-3256 (press 1, then 4).