Get Notifications on Glenwood Canyon (CO) Closures
Photo: Rafters on the Colorado River shortly after the Grizzly Creek fire started. Credit - Whitewater Rafting LLC.
Last August, historic wildfires raged across Colorado, threatening homes, recreational sites, and transportation arteries. The Grizzly Creek Fire quickly spread throughout Glenwood Canyon, jumping both I-70 and the Colorado River in the first few days. The active fire closed down traffic on the interstate for an unprecedented two weeks, blocking important freight, residents and tourists. Many Glenwood Springs businesses were impacted by the road and recreation area closures. Damage to both water and power supplies at the rest areas have caused the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to keep them closed since August. Pending the delivery of a few generators and portapotties, however, the Grizzly Creek Rest Area and Shoshone Powerhouse exit will be open April 1 to boaters.
The major interstate and CDOT owned and run rest areas in Glenwood Canyon lend themselves to tricky management for recreational resources like boat ramps and trail heads. In the case of accessing Barrel Springs, Shoshone, and Grizzly Creek to Two Rivers sections of the Colorado, the Forest Service has been working closely with and following the lead of CDOT. CDOT has been meeting regularly with commercial rafting outfitters and American Whitewater to discuss communications and safety in using these river access points throughout the summer. Due to threats of soil erosion and debris flows into the interstate and recreational areas, CDOT will be closing the Glenwood Canyon Bike Path and rest areas/exits in the canyon if local weather stations find a 30% chance of a flash flood for the following day. CDOT is compiling a list of interested parties to be added to an alert system to get updates on these closures. AW has developed a form to collect your phone numbers or emails to be added to this alert listserv.
The post-fire conditions, especially the loss of vegetation, has local and federal agencies severely concerned about the potential for large landslides or debris flows as a result of heavy rain. The Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team “expects erosion and run-off within much of the Grizzly Creek burned area to increase, especially where soils burned more severely, generally indicated on the map as areas of moderate or high soil burn severity.” The soil burn severity map can be found here. American Whitewater will continue to be in contact with the Forest Service and CDOT as the guidelines to management will constantly be shifting as more is learned about how the burned area will react to precipitation.
If you would like to get real time updates on closures in glenwood canyon from CDOT this summer, please fill out this form with your preferred method of contact.