CO 145 Lizard Head Pass Open; US 550 Red Mountain, Molas and Coal Bank Passes Closed Overnight

SOUTHWEST COLORADO—The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has opened CO 145 Lizard Head Pass between Telluride and Rico. Crews were able to successfully conduct avalanche control operations this afternoon. The pass was closed at 7 a.m. and opened at approximately 4:15 p.m.

Tyler Carlson, CDOT maintenance patrol foreman, said Lizard Head received well over a foot of snow overnight.

"The heavy snow was a concern because several avalanche paths were coming down naturally," Carlson said. "We could not have vehicles driving through the pass under these conditions. We're confident we were able to trigger any additional slides. We then cleared the road and corridor of snow as quickly as possible."

US Highway (US) 550 north of Durango will remain closed overnight also due to multiple slides on the highway and increased avalanche danger. The closure includes all three mountain passes: Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain. The 42-mile closure begins just north of Purgatory Ski Resort at Cascade Creek, mile point (MP) 53 and continues to the Town of Ouray, MP 95. Avalanche control operations will be attempted on US 550 first thing Sunday morning.

Motorists are reminded they may experience road closures, delays and chain law restrictions on several high mountain passes throughout southwest and south-central Colorado this holiday weekend due to the winter snowstorm moving through the region.


Drivers in passenger and commercial vehicles must follow Colorado's traction and chain laws, which are implemented when conditions require them. When either law is in effect, highway signage will be activated. Without proper equipment, motorists can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.

  • Passenger vehicles:
    • Traction Law (Code 15)—Motorists will need snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel drive vehicle. All tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.
    • Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (Code 16)—Every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).
  • Commercial vehicles:
    • Commercial Chain Law (Code 18)—All commercial vehicles must chain up. Code 18 may be implemented any time there is snow covering the pavement on an ascending grade and to minimize road closures.


    Road and weather conditions are available by dialing 511, 303-639-1111, or visiting COtrip. Available on/from the COtrip site are:

    The traveling public may also visit the CDOT website, sign up for GovDelivery alerts, and follow CDOT on Twitter and Facebook. (Note: The latter may not provide the most up-to-date news and conditions.)