Zion National Park fire smoldering; popular trail reopens

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jul 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-14 21:33:37-04

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah — A popular trail in Zion National Park has reopened after a wildfire on Cathedral Mountain prompted its closure for safety concerns, park officials said Tuesday.

The Cathedral Fire was ignited by a lightning strike on July 9. The fire was first seen early Saturday morning.

The blaze closed the lower section of the West Rim Trail, including the trail to Angels Landing.

The fire burned about 51 acres. According to park officials the flames haven’t grown, describing its activity as creeping and smoldering.

“Much of the fire area is now showing little activity, with most of the active areas along the fire’s northern and western flanks,” according to a press release from Zion National Park.

While there are some pockets of thick vegetation, the release states, the fire might ignite but it’s not expected to grow.

The release states fire is a natural and important component to the park’s ecosystem and occurs regularly on isolated mesa tops like Cathedral Mountain.

“Park officials believe that, as fire both restores the health of this fire dependent ecosystem and reduces the risk of future catastrophic wildfires, it is vital to the Zion National Park landscape,” the release indicates. “As long as there are no threats to visitor safety or park resources, it will be allowed to play its natural role.”

The trail is now open but park officials advise hikers to use caution in the vicinity of Refrigerator Canyon and be aware that debris from the fire may still fall from the mesa top.

Visitors are asked not to linger in the area, the release states.