GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Both directions of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon closed for the second time Thursday due to flash flooding in the Grizzly Creek burn scar area.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has reported mudslides in several locations on the road next to the Grizzly Creek burn scar area. Heavy rain is in the canyon, and the National Weather Service has reported about an inch and a half of rain has already fallen.
The interstate was first closed around 4:30 p.m. and reopened at approximately 6:06 p.m. The Colorado Department of Transportation announced a second closure Thursday evening at 9:07 p.m.
Closure points for westbound traffic will be Exit 133 (Dotsero) to Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs). Closure points for eastbound traffic will be from Exit 87 (West Rifle) to Exit 109 (Canyon Creek).
Cottonwood Pass is also closed due to extreme weather, according to Colorado State Patrol.
The National Weather Service issued the first flash flood warning for the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar area until 6:15 p.m. The second flash flood warning expires at 10:45 p.m. CDOT said the closure will remain in place through the duration of the advisory, however, it said drivers should expect an extended closure.
CDOT will assess the mudslides and clean up after the mudslides, heavy rain and flash flood warning has ended.
A flash flood warning for the area will prompt CDOT to close I-70 through Glenwood Canyon to prevent drivers from getting caught in potential mudslides triggered by heavy rain over the burn scar.
That section of I-70 has been shut down several times in June and July after mudslides washed up on the roadway, at times trapping vehicles between slides.
CDOT said there is no easy solution to the problem. The source of the mudslides is the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar. The human-caused fire started August 10, 2020 in Glenwood Canyon and burned more than 32,000 acres in the White River National Forest. CDOT said due to the size of the burn scar and terrain of the canyon, mitigation is nearly impossible.
These closures may last a few minutes or several hours, depending on the incident. If the closure lasts longer than an hour, traffic will be diverted to the northern alternate route.
The northern alternate route includes at least a two-hour-long detour. Westbound traffic can exit at Silverthorne and travel north on Colorado 9 to U.S. 40, then west to Craig. From Craig, take Colorado 13 south to Rifle and back on I-70. Eastbound traffic will need to exit at Rifle and take the same route in the other direction.
Drivers planning to use I-70 or other high-country roads should bring supplies with them in case they need to spend extended time in the car, CDOT said. At the minimum, this can include water, snacks, flashlight, and a blanket.