A massive rockfall occurred in Zion National Park on Tuesday afternoon, creating a dramatic scene but thankfully resulting in no significant injuries.
The rockfall happened around 3:40 pm near the Weeping Rock area of the park, according to officials. A cliff face above Weeping Rock detached, sending debris crashing down onto the cliffs below in a thunderous display.
The rockfall was captured on video by a visitor, showing a plume of dust billowing out from the site.
Park rangers responded immediately to the scene upon receiving reports of the rockfall. The incident forced the closure of the shuttle bus service in the park for a couple hours as rangers assessed the situation. By 5 pm, shuttle operations were able to resume normal service.
“Thankfully, park rangers did not need to treat any injuries,” said Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park Superintendent, in a statement. “Rockfall can happen at any time in this highly erosive landscape.”
While no significant injuries occurred, the Weeping Rock area itself will remain closed off until further notice. This includes the Weeping Rock shuttle stop, parking area, and connecting trails. Park scientists and maintenance crews will be analyzing the stability of rock in the vicinity before reopening the popular overlook.
Dramatic rockfalls may occur periodically in Zion National Park due to its unique geology. The park contains high sandstone cliffs, including multicolored walls over 3,000 feet tall, that have been carved out over millennia by the Virgin River and weathering forces. The towering cliffs are constantly shifting and eroding.
Park visitors are advised to remain vigilent when hiking near steep dropoffs and maintain a safe distance from cliff edges. Officials say following park safety guidance helps minimize the already low risks associated with the park’s geological processes.
While the Weeping Rock area remains temporarily inaccessible, the rest of Zion National Park remains open to recreation and exploration. Officials will provide updates when the Weeping Rock area is cleared for safe access again. For now, dramatic video footage of Tuesday’s rockfall serves as a reminder of the powerful geologic forces continuously at work shaping Zion National Park.
All photos courtesy of: National Park Service