Zion National Park
Credit: Getty Images

Three tourists were injured in Zion National Park during a freak rockfall incident on Monday. One victim had to be transported to the hospital, according to reports.

In a statement, park officials explained, “a substantial piece of rock” broke off Cable Mountain, approximately 3,000 feet above Weeping Rock. “The rockfall hit the closed East Rim Trail, knocking down trees and showering visitors at Weeping Rock with smaller rocks, branches, and a plume of dust and sand. Shuttles were stopped for approximately 90 minutes as the dust settled.”

Beyond the injured, officials noted that several people were temporarily stranded at the end of the trail. However, those stranded were able to “self-rescue.”

Rockslides and falls are truly something visitors to all national parks need to be wary of. As CNN reported, in early August, a 14-year old girl was killed in Montana's Glacier National Park by falling rocks. During that incident, a rockslide struck the top of the vehicle the girl was riding in near the East Tunnel of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The rock killed the young girl and injured both her parents and two other children inside the car. According to park officials, the rocks were about 12 inches in diameter. Officials noted in a press release at the time, the debris could have “filled the bed of a pickup truck.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), an average of 25-50 people are killed each year in the United States by landslides. The worldwide death toll per year due to landslides, it noted, is somewhere in the thousands. The USGS added, most landslide fatalities are from rock falls, debris-flows or volcanic debris flows.

Landslides, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained, typically happen after the ground is disturbed by a change in weather or simple gravity. To protect yourself, it noted, you should always assume “steep slopes and areas burned by wildfires are vulnerable to landslides and debris flows.” It also suggested visitors learn if landslides or debris flows have occurred previously in the area you plan to visit and to stay tuned to local stations and ask park rangers for the most up to date information.