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Walking Through History
August 28, 2009 12:30 PM   Subscribe

A Walk to Remember. For three hours Wednesday evening, the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway was closed to car traffic inside Zion National Park to let 300 people walk through the tunnel. It may have been the last time for people to do so legally for the foreseeable future.

When the tunnel was first built, cars could stop at galleries built into the tunnel to stop and look at the canyon below. With increased traffic this became too dangerous and became disallowed. Walking through the tunnel is also illegal.

This event was part of the Zion National Park Centennial.

Some photos from the event can be found here, here, and here.
posted by kmz (9 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think what is so awesome about this story is the amount of people for whom this tunnel holds dear memories. Reading about the 80 and 90-year-olds making the walk to look at the window views they haven't been able to see in (how long, now?) and reading the memories of others was wonderful. I love the local landmarks that a community will fondly embrace.
posted by Spatch at 12:48 PM on August 28, 2009


I spent a summer working in Zion National Park about 20 years ago. I'd get off work between 11pm and midnight, and would often go for late evening drives with the stereo blasting to unwind from a hard day in the kitchen. Driving through those tunnels after midnight with only my parking lights on and Peter Gabriel's Security album pumping is one of my very fondest memories. I remember, at the time, being quite fascinated with Everett Ruess, who apparently walked through those tunnels with his pack burro. I always wanted to walk through there, but never could. And now I've missed my chance! *sniffle*

Stunningly beautiful place, and an enchanted summer. I highly recommend it for anyone traveling through southern Utah. (Although it's really off the main track if you're just traveling THROUGH the area.)
posted by hippybear at 1:00 PM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I had no idea that those were there, but I'm totally going to do that if I ever go to the park.

thanks, Park Service!
posted by madajb at 1:01 PM on August 28, 2009


Why not make this a monthly event? Let's see, 300 people -- take 6 buses, load up the people. The tunnel is a bit over a mile long. Close the tunnel to general traffic, drop people off at one end of the tunnel, and drive the buses through. Give the people 60 minutes to walk the tunnel and look out the galleries (shorter than the 90 minutes these folks had, but still, averaging 1 mile/hour is not tough), with a couple guides on hand to herd them through. Charge $20/head.

Alternately, if it is the view and not the walk that is the draw, same plan, but this time close the tunnel, but don't drop the people off. Just drive them to the galleries (I'm not sure how many there are), park the buses, and give them 5-10 minutes at 5+ stops.
posted by fings at 1:28 PM on August 28, 2009


I love, love, love Zion National Park, especially the east side along the Mount Carmel Hwy. I always stay in Mount Carmel Junction when I visit. My most recent trip was mid-July of this year and one early morning at the crack of dawn as my brother and I were driving through the tunnel completely alone, I snapped off this picture from one of the tunnel windows. Yes, we were bad boys for stopping, but it was totally irresistible.

Thanks for the post kmz.
posted by netbros at 1:31 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's sad that the sanctity of a roadway that can never close overrides the sanctity of the views possible from the roadway that are only possible to see on foot. Hopefully this gives them the idea that they can indeed close the road every once in a while.
posted by zsazsa at 2:02 PM on August 28, 2009


I was so jealous when I heard about this on NPR. I used to live in Southern Utah and I'm disappointed I missed this incredible opportunity.

And that guy playing his hand crafted flute in the tunnel? I'm not usually a sucker for hymns or anything, but man....
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:37 PM on August 28, 2009


The Mackinaw Bridge closes down to one lane for a few hours once a year so that people can walk across it. It's pretty much the only connection between the UP and the lower peninsula, if you don't count a few ferries, and a major artery in the region. If that can be closed down for a few hours, I don't understand why this little tunnel can't be closed down once a year too.
posted by 517 at 6:55 PM on August 28, 2009


We drove thru it at night both direction (IE: we drove up and then came back down) on our trip there. It was pretty cool but even with that spur of the moment trip you could easily understand ho much better it would be to be able to stop and check out the view from the galleries.

"If that can be closed down for a few hours, I don't understand why this little tunnel can't be closed down once a year too."

That seems like an ideal solution. Extend the closure to 12-16 hours and the logistics of it become much easier. Highways up here close in the winter time fairly regularly and though it's a pain in the ass that is because it is unscheduled. If everyone knew that on, oh I don't know, Arbor day the tunnel would be closed it would be easy to plan for. Course I don't live there so I might be biased.
posted by Mitheral at 8:02 PM on August 28, 2009


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