Best time to visit Utah

Zion-Mount Carmel Highway in Utah

A scenic drive with plenty of switchbacks and hairpin bends

Best time: June–August (all year round)

Zion-Mount Carmel Highway
Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is part of a stunning loop drive through Zion and Bryce Canyons, Cedar Breaks, and the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. A beautiful 40-km (25-mi) road which runs through a 1.8-km (1 mi) tunnel starts at the entrance to Zion National Park and then runs east to Mount Carmel. The road also crosses Pine Creek and Virgin River Bridges and another short tunnel east of the main tunnel. The road, along with its tunnels was constructed in 1927-1930, and in 1987 it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Zion-Mount Carmel Highway offers breathtaking views, picturesque cliffs, and seasonal waterfalls. It has many spots to park and enjoy the surrounding nature. Take a look at famous Utah Hoodoos along the way, stop by the Checkerboard Mesa to see the fantastic nature's artwork created with the help of wind and rain. The tunnels and bridges are rather narrow, so they are not for large vehicles or mobile homes. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel offers several windows carved through the side to provide breathtaking views.

Winter, spring, and fall can bring some nasty weather and lots of ice in unexpected places. So the best time to drive on Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is in the summer. For the road conditions updates, please check the NPS website.

Practical info

What is the total length of the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway?

The road through Zion National Park stretches for 25 miles and continues eastward to Mount Carmel, known as the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. You'll pass through a 1-mile long tunnel, see several bridges, and witness an array of cliffs and waterfalls. Its narrowness makes it unsuitable for large vehicles or mobile homes, but parking spots offer a chance to take in the stunning surroundings. Show more

What is the best time of the year to travel on Zion-Mount Carmel Highway?

The time period from June to August offers optimal weather conditions on Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, with blue skies and sunshine. To avoid unpredictable weather and significant ice accumulation, avoid traveling in winters, springs, or falls. Weather patterns vary, and National Park Service's website provides road updates. Checking its updates is advised to ensure a smooth journey. Show more

How can I access the Utah Hoodoos from the highway?

The Utah Hoodoos are easily accessible from Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, which shows curious formations standing tall after thousands of years of erosion. A short hike on foot from the parking area leads to them. Wear sturdy footwear because some sections can be steep. A visit to this unique natural wonder should be on the itinerary. Show more

Can large vehicles or mobile homes travel on Zion-Mount Carmel Highway?

Large vehicles or mobile homes may face problems traveling on Zion-Mount Carmel Highway due to its narrow tunnels and bridges, restricting vehicles higher than 4.3 meters (14 feet) or wider than 3 meters (10 feet). Before using the road, be sure your vehicle matches the stipulations. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is preferred if traveling in a large vehicle without the mentioned restrictions. Show more

Are there any specific spots that offer breathtaking views of the surroundings?

Zion-Mount Carmel Highway has various scenic spots, providing distinct views of the surroundings. Checkerboard Mesa exhibits nature's artwork that wind and rain's effect created. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel offers carved windows on the side that gives an unmatchable, enthralling view. Along the way, seasonal waterfalls, picturesque cliffs, and Utah Hoodoos can be witnessed, requiring a camera to capture its beauty. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin