Through the Tunnel - Impassable Barrier
|The photo on the left was taken from within the tunnel. The light comes from a window in the cliff face.|
|In the 1920s the east end of the canyon appeared to be a dead end, an impassable barrier to transportation. To highway engineers the toughest challenge was the cliff in the photo on the left above. Building a highway over or around it was not possible. Their solution: a one-mile tunnel behind the cliff face. When tunnel and highway were completed in 1930, it opened the region to motor tourism, linking Zion to Bryce and the Grand Canyon's North Rim.|
Work on the tunnel began with drilling small shafts into the north-facing cliff shown in both photos above. These shafts later became the tunnel's windows or galleries. The four galleries are a source of light and air in the tunnel.
Now the tunnel itself has become a kind of barrier, as today's RVs and tour buses are too large for two-way traffic within the tunnel. Their solution: To charge $15.00 fo any vehicle exceeding 94 inches (Arvie is 95 inches) in width. The charge stands even though all traffic is delayed for passing through the tunnel. I wonder where the $15.00 goes? It should go toward enlarging the tunnel.
|Once through the one-mile tunnel, I was faced with panorama after panorama. The zigzag road down into the canyon provided a wealth of photographic opportunities.|
|On the right is Zion's "Great Arch", which isn't an arch. Yet.|
|In the photo on the right a part of the road switchback is shown. We not only had to go through the cliff, we had to then descend to the canyon floor via a series of six switchbacks. Geologically, the lowest layer of Bryce Canyon is the highest layer here at Zion. I had to come down a long way to get here, then a longer way down to the bottom of the canyon. Conversely, Tte lowest layer here is the highest layer at Grand Canyon National Park. And that is how the Grand Staircase - Escalante is structured.|
|Looking back to the east with the cliff through which the tunnel was carved on the right|
|Another of a window in the tunnel is on the left|
|The east section is predominately white cliffs of Navajo Sandstone. The red under them is Kayenta Mudstone. This shows the West Temple and the Towers of the Virgin.|
|On the left is the final switchback and the floor of the canyon. There is a small bridge over the creek that cuts this canyon. This is not Zion Canyon, but a side canyon leading to the junction with Zion Canyon.|
|The bottomThe two photos above were taken from the bridge on the final switchback. There is a creek there, but in Spetember there wasn't much water in it. See below right.|
|Signing was scarce or non-existent on the drive down from the tunnel exit. Consequently, I do not have the names of these formations and peaks.|
|It took me a long time to travel the twelve miles from the East Entrance to the Visitor Center. I stopped at every possible wide spot in the road to take these photos.|