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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zion Park Scenic Byway --Rt. 9, Utah

Scenic Highway 9;  Views were awesome!
On our trip out west in June,  we drove on many scenic roads.   The one I'm talking about today (Highway 9 in Utah) is another one.   Hope you enjoy reading more about this road (especially the building of the tunnels) ---and enjoy our photos.   Be sure to enlarge the photos for a much larger picture.

Look at our fabulous views from this scenic byway.
Scenic Highway 9,  from the south entrance of  Zion National Park to the intersection of US-89 at Mt. Carmel Junction,  is a 14-mile scenic highway.  Some people call it  the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway,  and others call it the Zion Park Scenic Byway.  We loved this highway, and there was so much beauty all around us.  There were six switchbacks and two tunnels.

We traveled through 2 awesome tunnels dug through the rock.  Be sure and read my information about the building of the tunnels.
When they surveyed the area in 1923,  they settled on the Pine Creek route,  which required a tunnel through the Great Arch (pictured 2 photos below).  Work began in 1927 and was completed in 1930, at a cost of $503,000.   The tunnel was dedicated on July 4, 1930.  The first tunnel features a 5,613 foot (1.711 mile) tunnel.  The second tunnel is much shorter.

See that hole?  That is one of several 'galleries' inside the tunnel.  We were driving inside ALL of that rock... Amazing, huh?  Read why they put in these galleries below.
Construction of the tunnels used mining techniques rather than traditional tunneling techniques.  They used  galleries (holes that they put in the walls at various places) to provide light and ventilation through the canyon wall to the outside air.  The galleries also provided a place to dispose of rock generated during construction,  which was dumped through the galleries into the canyon. 

Here is the Grand Arch --where the tunnels went through!  WOW!!!
Some of the galleries have had to be repaired and partially closed with concrete due to damage from rockslides.  The interior of the tunnel is rock-faced with concrete reinforcement at selected locations.   At the time of completion,  this tunnel was the longest non-urban road tunnel in the United States.  We really enjoyed going through these tunnels ---while we thought about all of the man-power it took to build them.

Gorgeous scenery all along that scenic road
The tunnel's restricted dimensions require that vehicles over 11.33 feet in height or 7.83 feet in width give advance notice so that two-way traffic can be shut down in the tunnel --allowing oversize vehicles to proceed down the center of the tunnel.  Vehicles over 13.08 feet tall and semi-trailers as well as bicycles and pedestrians are prohibited in the tunnel.  There are rangers at both ends of the tunnel.  I think it's a $15 fee if a large vehicle needs to be escorted through the tunnel. 

Isn't that just gorgeous?  Love the colors...
When we left Zion on June 18,  we took this scenic highway.. It was AWESOME--as good or better than Zion itself (in my opinion).  We were fascinated at all of the gorgeous scenery along the way,  especially reading about the tunnels built through all of that rock.  One of the most interesting parts for us was reading about the galleries... It's hard to believe how hard people worked back then in order to build things.  The sad thing about that though is that most of what they built (pretty much by hand) in those days is much-better built than the roads and tunnels of today!  Hmmmmmmmm.

I hope you enjoyed seeing another of Utah's fabulous scenic highways... If you ever get to Zion National Park,  be sure and take the scenic route across Highway 9 to the Mt. Carmel Junction.  You will be glad you did.  Hope you enjoy our photos  from that experience.

Have a wonderful day...