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Major Rockfalls Close Popular Island Trail

Walnut Canyon National Monument

National Park News

At least two major rockfalls have damaged or destroyed large sections of the Island Trail, the park’s most popular trail. The heavily damaged trail has been closed indefinitely. The first rockslide was minor and occurred sometime during the evening of November 30th, blocking the lower section of the trail. A second rockfall occurred during the morning of Saturday, December 8th. This rockslide was far more extensive and destructive in nature, smashing large sections of concrete stairway, steel handrails, and a bench. Although the trail was open during the December 8th rockfall, no visitors were injured. The Island Trail descends into Walnut Canyon in a long series of concrete stair steps, allowing visitors access to a ledge lined with cliff dwellings tucked into deep limestone alcoves in the steep, rugged canyon. Park staff are assessing the full extent of the damage, and are in the initial stages of developing preliminary options for reopening the trail. Truck-sized blocks of unstable limestone hang precariously over sections of the heavily-traveled trail. The largest are estimated to weigh hundreds of tons. These blocks need to be removed or stabilized, or a new trail will need to be rerouted around them. The trail will likely be closed for months. All other areas of the park – including the visitor center, the Rim Trail, and the picnic area – remain open to the public.



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