Two days after torrential rains forced the closure of Zion National Park, officials on Thursday reopened Zion Canyon, but with some restrictions.
In a statement park officials said some trails remained closed while damage assessments and repairs were being made.
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive was back in service with a short section of one-lane traffic south of the Court of the Patriarchs. Watchman Campground also was allowed to reopen, as was the Zion Lodge, park officials said.
Elsewhere in the canyon, the Pa’rus Trail along the Virgin River was open; Upper Emerald Pools was accessible only via the Kayenta Trail from the Grotto; Lower and Middle Emerald Pools trails remained closed due to active rock and mudslides; the Weeping Rock Trail was cleared of mud and debris and was to reopen to the public Thursday afternoon, and; the Riverside Walk was closed two-tenths of a mile from the end due to flood damage.
Park officials said the open section of the Riverside Walk was currently inaccessible for wheelchairs and that the Watchman and Sand Bench Trails remained closed. Scout Lookout/Angels Landing, East Rim, and West Rim Trails were being inspected and damage assessed as soon as possible. Backcountry users were alerted to aware that trails have not been assessed and they might encounter trail washouts and damage.
While Zion Canyon was back in business Thursday, the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway from Canyon Junction to the park’s East Entrance was still closed as crews worked to repair a stretch that washed out Monday, park officials said. Additionally, the Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive was closed due to rock and mudslides.
The Zion Canyon Visitor Center and Kolob Canyons Visitor Center will be closed on Christmas Day as in the past. However, entrance stations will have current information on road and trail conditions, the park said. Visitors needing backcountry permits should inquire at the entrance stations. Park Rangers will be patrolling the park and providing visitor assistance.
Visitors were advised to stay away from Virgin River and stream banks as they are saturated and prone to crumbling. The saturated soil makes additional landslides and rockfalls a possibility for the next several days, the park said. Visitors should be cautious while driving or hiking in the park.