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Ut9 Zion National Park s(u)

This is the Mount Carmel Road through Zion National Park. But the summit point is a couple of miles west of the Park. On the east side bicycling is illegal through the longer one of two tunnels. The only other cyclists I saw on the road east of the tunnel, were all Europeans going around the world, Signs along the road never even address the topic of bicycling through the park. Once at the tunnel, most through going cyclists just try to hitch a ride with a truck through the tunnel. Long lines of stopped cars develop when the tunnel is used in one direction only, by a high profile vehicle. This is a common occurrence.

1.(00.0k,5200ft) START-END WEST: Mt Carmel Junction
2.(08.6m,6090ft)TOP
3.(18.2m,5150ft)tunnel entrance west side
4.(19.4m,4810ft)tunnel exit east side
5.(22.9m,4870ft)jct with Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
6.(25.1m,3940ft)Springdale
7.(29.0m,3770ft)Rockville: jct with Smithsonian Black Canyon Scenic Byway
8.(39.8m,3560ft)jct with Mesa Rd to Hurricane Mesa
9.(45.4m,3130ft) START-END EAST: low point just north of La Verkin

Approaches

From West.
From Mt Carmel Jct. there is an initial moderate climb, before the road levels out. The impressive cliffs behind, which really get into their own during late in the afternoon, when the low late light illuminates them three dimensionally, carry the suburban sounding name "Glendale Bench". In this section there is also one single, great view down a canyon, running in a southerly direction.

The highest point, comes as mentioned, a couple of miles before entering the park. There is no sign, no interesting view, just a business of some sort, and a turnoff up (another road named) North Creek Road. This North Creek Road is paved to within a couple of miles of the Observation Point Trailhead, leading into a more remote area of Zion National Park.

From East. (also described upwards). The entire road between I15, Anderson Junction and Zion NP has a wide shoulder, most of the time with more than enough space for cycling even side by side - sometimes even a marked bike lane. Some of the pavement on the lower sections is a little rough for more sensitive tires.

Riding through the Hurricane Cliffs area is a nice introduction to this fantastic landscape. On the left is the climb to Hurricane Mesa. Rockville still has enough peace and quiet to let you appreciate the Mormon sized streets. The next town, Springdale, is something approaching the typical National Park edge town. But I didn't see any go cart tracks or min golf courses, as I hurried through.

Traffic going up towards the tunnel is heavy, but slow and considerate. A handful of switchbacks climb up to the gum line of the surrounding giant rock teeth. In my case the October light was constantly incredible. Approaching the tunnel, a guard keeps watch on any irregularities, such as a cyclist without a car ride, heading for the tunnel.

On the east side of the tunnel another guard keeps watch, that things are happening in a orderly manner. When asked how to proceed through the tunnel, as a cyclist in the opposite direction, the official advice given is to hitchhike. In my case the line of cars, waiting to enter the tunnel was 1.3miles long, on a Monday in October shortly before noon.

The road is fairly narrow. But that is great. With all these turns and everybody here in order to be here, it was a great ride with lots of space. Of course it was very busy.


cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow


Dayride with this point as the highest summit:

PARTIALLY PAVED / UNPAVED / TRAIL

( < Ut261 via Snowflats Rd(sh) | Hancock Rd s(u) > )

Ut9 Zion National Park s(u) x2 , jct US89 - Ut43 Pink Corral Sand Dunes State Park(sh) , separate out and back: about 1.5 miles south of jct US89 - Ut43 <> Ut43 north <> Mount Carmel Jct <> Ut9 west <<>> on way back only separate out and back <> North Fork Rd north <> Twin Butte(?) Rd east <> turnaround point just beyond highest point on Observation Point Trail >> Ut9 east in Zion NP << turnaround point this side of Carmel tunnel >> back to starting point: 70.7miles with 5150ft of climbing in 6:34hrs (garmin etrex30 m3:19.10.7)
Notes: the trail to "Observation Point" is easily bikable (at least the initial 2.5 miles to the high point) It is not signed as being illegal to bicycle. I didn't notice that it was inside Zion NP until after return. It was then that I noticed the small Zion sign at the trailhead. "Observation Point" is not the initial high point on the trail, but instead a lower point that comes several miles later. But there are some great views in the initial section too. The trail here is a wide trail often 100ft from the rim, where some usage tracks suggest a possible great view from a detour through the bushes .. and there are a few monumental views if you look for them.
     The ride to the west side of Mt Carmel tunnel was a separate daytrip, starting about 1mile west of jct Mesa Rd - Ut9, and also including a ride to the end of Mt Zion Dr (58.4miles with 2370ft of climbing in 4:48hrs (garmin etrex30 r4:19.10.16).