Crews work to clear debris, find out cause of 3,000-foot rockfall in Zion

ST. GEORGE — Crews are working to clear debris and discover what caused a 3,000-foot rockfall in Zion National Park Saturday night. 

A plume of dust coming down during a rockfall in Zion National Park, Utah, Aug. 24, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Sandanie Ambalangodage, St. George News

Park officials are still unsure of what caused the rockfall, which injured three and left several visitors temporarily stranded after being showered by a plume of dust and debris.

“It’s kind of an off thing for us because the other rock slides that we’ve had have been during wet precipitated seasons, with snowfall or rainfall causing mudslides or rock slides. This one is just kind of different for us. It was a hot, summer, August day there in the park,” park spokesperson Eugenne Moisa said. 

The rock fell from around 3,000 feet above the shuttle stop, crashing into a ledge and breaking into pieces on its way down. A large plume of dust could be seen falling down the cliff face when the incident occurred. Debris fell onto both the Weeping Rock trail and the East Rim Trail, leaving a large rock at the fork on the path between the two.

“As it came down, it just dusted. And just the force of the amount of rock that came down, it’s noticeable when you’re looking at it,” Moisa said. 

Crews work to clean up after a rockfall near Weeping Rock in Zion National Park, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

Geologists are currently in the park to study the aftermath of the rockfall to determine a possible cause. 

There is currently no ETA for when the Weeping Rock trail and shuttle stop will be reopened. Crews have been working since the incident to clean the sand, rocks, trees and other debris from the area using heavy equipment, chainsaws and rakes. 

Moisa said they will likely have the area cleaned up relatively quickly. 

Before the park can reopen the area to visitor use, however, they must make sure there is no risk of another rockfall in the near future. 

“We just don’t know if anything else is going to fall, so we tend to hold off and let things settle before we would do that,” Moisa said. “We just want to make sure it’s safe for us all to be able to be in that area. Right now, it’s just closed until further notice.” 

The park’s plans to close the Weeping Rock trail and shuttle stop number seven to perform rock scaling on the East Rim Trail on Thursday and Friday have been put on an indefinite hold until after the area has been cleared. 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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