Geology along the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway
Geology changes dramatically along the eleven-miles from the east entrance of Zion National Park to the south side and again along the six-miles through Zion Canyon.
Zion's Tunnels - On the 4th of July, 1930, in a dedication, the completion of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel was celebrated. This 1.1 mile-long hole through the mountain cost around 2-million dollars and allowed easy access to the east side of Zion. Previously people had to travel a hazardous stretch of mountain road running through the Arizona strip. The new road shortened the distance from Zion to Bryce Canyon by seventy-miles. The tunnel is located between the Canyon Overlook Trailhead and the Switchbacks. It divides the park with the red colored rock on one side and the patterned white slick rock on the other. The other tunnel, located east of the larger, is so short that the opposite end is seen as soon as entering.
Zion's Switchbacks - The winding road that doubles back on itself takes traffic from the intersection of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway to the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel is called the switchbacks and it has been likened to being on a roller coaster ride. Driving this stretch of road is thrilling for some and scary for others, but a beautiful site for us all. Impressive geological wonders crowd the narrow Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. From the top of the Switchbacks note the spherical Beehives and Sundial. Also visible are the Twin Brothers, Mount Spry, the massive Streaked Wall and the Great Arch. Each landmark is a geological story in itself. Before the Switchbacks were built, Zion Canyon was accessible from the west by rugged dirt roads from Cedar City creating a road such as the Zion-Mt. Carmel Hwy which before it was done, seemed to be an impossible task.
Pine Creek - The popular one-mile Canyon Overlook Trail begins at the east side of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. It ends at an incredible view of lower Zion Canyon. The easy path climbs above the tunnel, leading hikers past hoodoos and a moist rock alcove with hanging gardens. The trail ends in a nest of stones high above the canyon floor. Looking down over the fenced edge offers a stunning view of the canyon floor and the switchbacks as they wind up toward the tunnel.
Zion National Park, Utah
History of the Thunderbird
This is my new favorite quote:
"I don't know who Tanya Milligan is, but I mean www.zionnational-park.com
It's a better site than the NPS's anyway."
Written by the authors of the book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park