Driving through the 500-million-year old Virgin River Gorge – with its 17-mile stretch of Interstate 15 linking Mesquite, Nevada and the southwestern Utah community of St. George – is like traveling 55-miles-an-hour through the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In a word, this heavily traveled section of interstate highway is spectacular. Not only did this marvel of engineering take many years to complete, it is also one of the most expensive segments of interstate highway ever constructed! Through it all, the Virgin River wends its way back and forth across the canyon, which is also popular for rock climbing, hiking and camping out under the stars.
Until the I-15 corridor was completed, motorists were required, for more than a century, to swing far to the north along U. S. Highway 91 to reach their destination. In the early 1960’s, highway engineers suggested a freeway be routed through the Virgin River Gorge, much to the dismay of locals who couldn’t imagine how such a feat could possibly be done. Nevertheless, a road was blasted through the canyon (drill marks are still visible in many places), tacked to the ledges and, after several years, was finally open for commercial and economic travel in 1973.
It’s a beautiful drive most of the time, but in the summer of 2015 this impressive corridor through which travelers must pass to reach Salt Lake City to the north or California to the south, is under construction again. The $27 million project – which is not in either Nevada or Utah – is in a 29-mile long corner of Arizona, and which ADOT (the Arizona Department of Transportation), estimates will not be finished until sometime in 2016. So drivers are urged to plan ahead, allow extra time for delays, slow down and drive carefully through work zones, which are likely to involve traffic narrowed to one lane in each direction.
On your road home, you’ll find comfortable accommodations while visiting southern Utah where 5 Seasons Vacation condominiums and St. George Resort Rentals are here for you. Register online today at www.stgeorgeresortrentals.com for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or www.laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums.