Zion Mountain Carmel Tunnel
Approaching the Zion Mountain Carmel Tunnel. Note the windows or "galleries" cut along the side of the mountain (indicated with white arrow).
The Zion Mountain Carmel Tunnel was built so people could go from Zion National Park to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and other destinations in northern Arizona.
Construction began in 1927 and was completed in 1930 - this included about 25 miles (40 km) of road which leads to the tunnel.
Engineers used mining techniques rather than traditional tunneling techniques. They blasted and cut through the mountain to make a 1.1 mile long tunnel. As you approach the tunnel, you can see window-like holes (called galleries) cut along the side of the tunnel. These holes allow air flow and light to enter the tunnel. During construction, rocks and debris were dumped out of the galleries into the canyon 800 feet below.
Construction of the tunnel was considered an engineering marvel and, at the time, it was the longest non-urban road-tunnel in the United States.
Oversized vehicles be aware!
The tunnel allows traffic to go in both directions for regular-sized cars. However, oversized vehicle need to drive down the center of the road, thus only one-way traffic is allowed when dealing with vehicles longer than 11.4 feet or wider than 7'10" feet.
A $15 permit fee is charged for oversized vehicles. Permits can be purchased at the entrance of the park - permits are not sold at the mouth of the tunnel.
Permits allow 2 passes through the tunnel within 7 days. In winter, the tunnel is open to oversized vehicles from 8 am to 4:30 pm.
The following are not allowed to pass through the Zion Mountain Carmel Tunnel:
vehicles weighing >50,000 lbs,
vehicles over 13'1" tall,
single vehicle over 40 feet long,
combined vehicles over 50' long,
vehicles with hazardous materials,
The west end of the tunnel is adorned with sandstone masonry. Note sign for no bicycles and pedestrians
Passage through the tunnel is free for regular-sized cars. Oversized vehicles must pay $15 to pass through the tunnel.
The east end of the tunnel looks like a hole in the side of the mountain.
This tunnel is indeed a show of man's tenacity and ingenuity. If you have time, definitely drive through the tunnel to experience the feel of being under thousands of pounds of rock!
Please approach the tunnel slowly and listen to the instructions provided by the rangers. Do not stop in the tunnel, do not turn around while in the tunnel, and do not turn your car around exactly at the mouth of the tunnel. Go a little further before you turn around so as to avoid traffic congestion.
From the south entrance of Zion National Park, go 1.4 miles north. At Canyon Junction, turn right (east) and follow Zion Mountain Carmel Highway. After 3.6 miles of winding road, you will reach the west entrance to the tunnel.
While you are on this side of the tunnel, you may wish to check out the Zion Canyon Overlook trail. This trail has a modest elevation gain, but it has severe drop-offs. At the top of the trail, you will be treated with a panoramic view of Zion and some of its highlight peaks. See more here.
More Zion National Park links:
• Visitors Center
• Zion Mountain Carmel Tunnel (drive through)
• Weeping Rock trail (easy, 15 minute)
• Zion Riverside Walk (easy, 2-mile walk)
• Emerald Pool trail (pretty waterfalls)
• Zion Canyon Overlook trail (panoramic view, steep drops)
• Angels Landing trail (incredible height, dangerous drops)
• map of Zion Canyon area
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