Rebuilding Angels Landing, the West Rim, and Middle Emerald Pools Trails
GIFT GRANTED: $990,000 from The George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, The National Park Foundation, The S.L. Gimbel Foundation, and Zion Forever Project Supporters
On July 11, 2018, a summer monsoon rushed through Zion National Park. In Refrigerator Canyon, torrential rain opened an 18-foot gap in the trail approaching Angels Landing. An SUV-sized boulder tumbled through a section of Lower Emerald Pools, creating unstable terrain beyond the iconic waterfall. On the Kayenta Trail, falling debris knocked out a 50-foot walkway. With key connecting sections of the Kayenta and Lower Emerald Pools Trail inaccessible, the Upper Emerald Pools was forced to close. Combined with damages to sections of the West Rim Trail, this single storm destabilized four popular Zion Canyon destinations.
On the morning of July 12, Zion’s trail crew and a team of engineers examined each trail for possible re-routings and in the ensuing months, created scopes of work for needed repairs. A 30-foot custom bridge was built in Refrigerator Canyon, and 72 days after the massive storm, Angels Landing reopened. To date, trail crews have removed 150,000 pounds of rock from the Kayenta rock slide. Repairs are also planned for the Lower Emerald Pools section, with restoration beginning in the next few months.
Bringing sunshine to the Canyon in 2019, private, nonprofit, and agency funding restored sections of two Zion trails that received damage during previous severe weather events. The first two phases of the Middle Emerald Pools Trail reconstruction project have been completed, an effort made possible through donations from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Centennial Cost Share Challenge Grant, the National Park Foundation, and Zion Forever Project supporters. A grant from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation supported improvements to the West Rim Trail Complex, adding more than 750 square feet of stone masonry walls, 1,500 feet of trail curbing, and 500 feet of new trail tread.
With geology constantly at “work,” Zion Canyon continues to be shaped by the forces that have created its magnificence over thousands of years. In 2020, the Zion Forever Project and Zion National Park are thankful to those who assure visitors continue to enjoy our park’s unforgettable trails.