East Zion Mount Carmel Highway, Utah

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Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

Surrounded by dazzling rock formations on all sides, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway drops into the canyon from the East Rim, through a historic tunnel, and finishes in hairpin switchbacks at the canyon floor.

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  • The 14 miles of Zion-Mount Carmel Highway hold some of the most amazing scenery imaginable.
  • The art of erosion is on full display, with canyons, outcroppings and mountains around every corner.
  • Travel through the 1.1-mile Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, an engineering marvel.
  • The route finishes in Pine Creek Canyon, with steep switchbacks following the watercourse.

Overview

The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is comprised of 30% wow, 30% awe and 40% amazement. Few roads in North America, if not the world, can match this stunning 14-mile stretch of pavement which wanders through a landscape full of massively large, abstract geological formations.

Driving Directions

The start of this trip is at Mount Carmel Junction, where Utah Highway 9 and US Highway 89 intersect. Heading west down UT-9, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway ends at the intersection with the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, just north of Springdale.

Time / Distance

Don't expect to zip through the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway during summer. Due to the high volume of tourists it can take one to two hours to complete the 14 miles of road. 

If you're driving a large RV you may need an escort through the tunnel at a cost of $15. Contact the park at (435) 772-3256 for more information. 

Highlights

  • Checkerboard Mesa
    This is an incredible example of what nature is capable of creating, given years of geological movement, sedimentary rock and erosion. The horizontal layers, remnants of ancient sand dunes, and vertical stripes, caused by the rocks' expansion and contraction, make an honest-to-goodness checkerboard.
  • Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel
    Completed in 1930, this 1.1 mile monument to human engineering is an attraction of a different sort that adds to the route's wow-factor. At the time of completion, it was the longest tunnel of its kind, and the most expensive mile of road ever built.
  • Pine Creek Canyon
    Through its many switchbacks and pullouts, perfectly sculpted mountains decorate every view, heightening expectations that at any moment you'll start hearing Handel's Hallelujah echoing through the valley.

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