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House-size boulder blocking east entrance to Zion National Park

A “house-size” boulder fell on a major road near Zion National Park on Wednesday, blocking access to the east gate of the Utah park.

The rockfall has caused the closure of Zion-Mount Carmel Highway between Canyon Junction and the park’s east entrance.

No injuries were reported, said spokeswoman Aly Balers, who described the boulder as “huge” but did not have measurements.

“A significant rock fall occurred on the switchback near the Pink Creek Bridge and is blocking both sides of the road,” a Zion National Park news release said. “The park will be working with a hazard geologist from the Utah Geological Survey to remove the rock and assess the road.”

The road will be reopened once it is safe, the release said.

The Scenic Drive and Zion Canyon remain open, with all park facilities, shuttles and campgrounds open and operating normally, the release said

Prior to the boulder’s fall, the National Weather Service had alerted Zion National Park of a strong thunderstorm in the park, bringing flood waters to areas of the park by the afternoon, according to the release. “By 4:00 p.m., park maintenance had cleared the Scenic Drive and the Mount Carmel Highway from the Scenic Drive to the South Entrance,” the release said.

Debris from the floods had not been completely cleared from the switchbacks when the boulder fell, the release said.

“Alternate east and west routes are available via Highway 59 from Hurricane, Utah to Fredonia, Arizona and Highway 14 from Cedar City, Utah to Long Valley Junction and Highway 89,” the release said. Travelers can access the park by heading east on State Route 9 from Interstate 15, the release said.

Contact Christian Bertolaccini at cbertolaccini@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0381. Follow @bertolaccinic on Twitter.

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