A landslide destroyed an 800-foot section of a popular scenic roadway in southern Utah early Saturday.
The slide happened on State Road 14 about eight miles east of Cedar City sometime before 5 a.m. Shortly after, the Iron County road was closed in both directions. The closure was from mile post 8 on SR 14 east to the junction of SR 148 at the Cedar Breaks National Monument turnoff. The road is expected to be closed for several weeks or even until spring.
"It is a pretty significant slide," said Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower, who added that about 80 feet of mud, rock and debris fell into the creek below the wiped-out road.
No injuries, evacuations or property damage was reported. Gower hadn't heard of any reports of hunters or recreation enthusiasts stranded because of the slide, but he said the detour "is going to be an inconvenience for some people."
Kevin Kitchen, spokesman for Utah Department of Transportation Region 4, said the recent plummet in temperature and increase in precipitation may be to blame.
He said the closure will last as long as it takes for geotechnical experts to remove the debris, repair the road and see if the mountainside needs to be reinforced.
The slide began on the south-facing side of the mountain, Kitchen said, adding that a hunter in the area called to notify authorities of a "depression in the roadway" at about 8 p.m. Friday night.
Kitchen said the slide is common for the Cedar Canyon area.
"This is an area where we have had [slide] activity in the past," Kitchen said, noting that in December 2008 there was a slide in the same area directly across the road. On Thursday other portions of SR 14 were closed due to debris and rocks falling on the canyon road, Kitchen said.
Kitchen said access to many popular locations will still be available, but they may take longer to access. He said local businesses and restaurants near the mouth of Cedar Canyon remain accessible to the public.
Tourists and motorists, including those with cabins in Duck Creek Village, are urged to use U.S. 89, via Interstate 15 and SR 20, to go through Long Valley Junction.
Gower said the road closure will have a widespread impact on locals and tourists to the scenic area.
"As far as our community, [the closure] will have a huge impact on us this winter."