Travel Advisory: US 550 North of Durango Closed

SOUTHWEST/SOUTH CENTRAL COLORADO—The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has closed US Highway (US) 550 north of Durango, including all three mountain passes: Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain.

The 42-mile closure begins just north of Purgatory Ski Resort and Cascade Creek at mile point (MP) 53, and continues to the Town of Ouray, MP 95. There is no estimated time of opening. Avalanche control operations will begin at daylight first thing the morning of Tuesday, Jan 10.

"This winter storm has brought heavy snowfall to the San Juan Mountain Range and the US 550 corridor," said John Palmer, CDOT deputy superintendent of maintenance in Durango. "The significant amount of snow has resulted in high avalanche and snow slide danger. We have documented a natural slide just south of Red Mountain Pass summit, and are working on clearing snow from the road between Molas and Coal Bank passes, where a backcountry skier triggered a slide."

The natural slide on Red Mountain Pass did not reach the road, but the skier-triggered avalanche near Lime Creek covered a 200-foot length of highway, with snow 8 feet deep. CDOT maintenance personnel reported that a skier was initially caught in the slide but was able to break free. No vehicles were involved in the slide.

CDOT maintenance crews also reported several vehicles sliding off the roadways of the mountain pass areas and similar incidents on slick roads at lower elevations throughout the region.

Palmer added, "Your best bet for driving in slick and icy conditions is to be patient and slow down! We also ask that motorists give plenty of room for our plows to do the job."


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.)