A popular southern Utah tourist route near Cedar Breaks National Monument will be closed for months while a portion of a state highway destroyed by a mudslide is either rebuilt or realigned.

Aerial photographs were ordered Tuesday by the Utah Department of Transportation of the half-mile section of U-14 that was torn away by a Monday morning slide.Besides destroying part of the two-lane highway, the slide dumped millions of tons of debris into Coal Creek. A UDOT grader, believed to have been swept into the creek, did not fall that far and may be salvageable.

The severity of the damage and the fact that the area is still unstable has UDOT engineers seriously considering abandoning the alignment. This is the second time in two years that the road has been closed due to slides.

But a state geologist, Gary Christenson, said he thinks the slide was an isolated incident, rather than a sign that slopes throughout Utah are unusually unstable after winter's heavy snowfall.