Several sizable boulders and debris careened down a cliff and crashed onto the White Rim Road in the northern park district known as Island in the Sky, according to the National Park Service.
They noted that the rockfall was triggered by a combination of precipitation and daily temperature swings that caused the precipitation to freeze, thaw and then freeze again. In fact, for the past few days, high temperatures at the park have bounced between the low 20s and mid 30s.
When rain trickles into a small crack and then freezes into ice, the ice expands and pushes the crack further apart, according to the NPS. The repeated cycles eventually leads to larger cracks.
As in the case with the rockfall in Canyonlands National Park, this phenomenon was enough to break the rock free from the cliffside, sending boulders down to the White Rim Road below, completely blocking the roadway, the NPS said.
The NPS noted that they have temporarily closed the portion of the White Rim Road between the park boundary at Mineral Bottom and the Labyrinth campsites, where the rockfall occurred.
That portion of White Rim Road will remain closed until park staff can remove the boulders, repair the damaged roadway and evaluate the stability of the cliffs above, the NPS said.
Canyonlands is the largest national park in Utah, according to the NPS. They noted that winter precipitation and freezing temperatures can traditionally cause temporary winter closures of other routes, including the Shafer Trail, Flint Trail, or other four-wheel-drive roads in the park.
Park officials recommend that travelers check the Canyonlands website to check current road conditions when planning a trip.