One Year Ago: Remembering Glenwood Canyon Mudslides, I-70 Closures
It seemed like a western Colorado nightmare, but the mudslides in Glenwood Canyon that shut down Interstate 70 last year for two weeks was very real.
One Year Ago Glenwood Canyon Closes For Two Weeks
It was July 31, 2021, when Interstate 70 sustained extreme damage from flooding and mudslides in the Grizzly Creek burn scar area. Flows of mud, rock, and debris came flowing down canyon walls and onto the interstate highway below making it impassable. Motorists were forced to take lengthy detours to get around Glenwood Canyon.
At the time, we did not realize how significant the damage was inside Glenwood Canyon or how long our travel plans would be impacted. The word from the Colorado Department of Transportation was that the interstate would remain closed "indefinitely."
Two Weeks of Lengthy Detours
As it turned out, indefinitely meant two weeks that I-70 travelers had to take one of the available lengthy detours in order to get from Grand Junction to Denver. That meant motorists had to head north out of Rifle to Craig and Steamboat Springs, and then reconnect with the interstate at Silverthorn. Highway 50 was the other option - and both added at least 2 1/2 hours of travel time to the cross-state trek.
Almost daily we would check the news to see if, perhaps, today was the day the interstate would finally open and end the need for the inconvenient and time-consuming detours. Each day for two solid weeks we were disappointed to discover it was more of the same.
Mudslides and Rockslides Nothing Knew to Glenwood Canyon
What we might have forgotten is that mudslides in Glenwood Canyon are nothing new. Several times in 2021 the canyon was closed due to mudslides that had to be cleaned up, or because of the threat of slides during rain and thunderstorm activity. Even before the Grizzly Creek Fire, mudslides and rockslides have been a constant threat in the canyon.
Will the Future Bring Changes?
Unfortunately, right now there is no alternative, though some politicians are calling for something to be done about the situation - like miraculous creating another route that bypasses Glenwood Canyon altogether. For now, it is what it is, and we do what we have to do - even if that means an occasional 2 1/2 detour. Hopefully, we won't have to contend with an extended closure ever again - but, somehow it feels inevitable.
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