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The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway leads ten miles east from Zion Canyon. The highway ascends approximately 1,600 feet through the Pine Creek Valley to reach Checkerboard Mesa. The highway is a paved route completed in 1930. Considered an engineering marvel upon completion, the road leads through two tunnels, one over one mile in length, and over rugged terrain.

The route begins in the east by crossing the North Fork Virgin River. It parallels the northern bank of Pine Creek for a half mile before crossing the stream and beginning a series of switchbacks. At the top of these switchbacks, 4,835 feet, the road enters the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. This tunnel leads one mile through solid rock between Hepworth Wash and Gifford Canyon. It emerges from the rock at 5,124 feet.

Large vehicles, over 7'4" W x 11'4" L, will need an escort through the tunnels along Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. Rangers at the East and South Park Entrances will collect the escort fee, which is charged in addition to the entrance fee, and arrange a tunnel escort. This fee is good for two trips along the highway. Rangers must stop traffic through the tunnels so that large vehicles can navigate through the center due to the 1930s vehicle proportions of the route.

At the eastern terminus of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel is a turn out and trailhead. A short trail leads westward to The Great Arch, which lies high above Pine Creek on a vertical rock wall. Beyond this trailhead the highway leaves deep Zion Canyon and enters the slickrock country of Checkerboard Mesa.

The highway continues climbing eastward leaving Pine Creek as it turns northward and begins to follow the Clear Creek drainage. The highway enters another, shorter (530-foot) tunnel and emerges four miles west of the eastern park boundary. The highway continues through spectacular scenery to the East Entrance Station where a trailhead provides access to the East Rim Trail.

Elevation: 4,048 Feet

Ending elevation: 5,700 Feet

Directions: From Mount Carmel Junction, Drive westward on Highway 9 approximately 10 miles to the Zion National Park boundary.

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Expert Review of Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway Scenic Byway

Parks and Outdoors Review of Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway Scenic Byway

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Scenic Drives

Zion National Park

Visitor Information

Telephone Number: 435-772-3256
The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.