Southwest CDOT Travel Update: US 550 Red Mountain Pass to Remain Closed


CDOT PHOTO: The West Riverside slide was triggered today, Tuesday, March 5, on north Red Mountain Pass, US 550. The triggered avalanche brought down snow about 30 ft. deep and 250 ft. wide.

SOUTHWEST COLORADO ― US Highway 550 Red Mountain Pass will remain closed until further notice. The pass will stay closed overnight and it is not known yet when the pass will open.  

Avalanche mitigation teams and maintenance crews have triggered and continue to trigger an unprecedented amount of snow from several avalanche paths that are now covering the roadway. The triggered snow slides, 10 to 30 ft. deep in some areas, include an extensive amount of debris including limbs and trees. Extra equipment is needed and has been called in from others areas to assist with clearing the highway.

Additional mitigation is planned for Red Mountain Pass tomorrow, Wednesday, March 6.

CDOT PHOTO (above and below): A heavy duty snow blower punches a hole through the snow that came down the West Riverside slide triggered yesterday, Monday, March 4, on north Red Mountain Pass, US 550. The snow shed which protects the traveling public from natural slide activity is seen in the background.


Regional Transportation Director Mike McVaugh stated, “This extended closure has been implemented to ensure the safety of the traveling public. It’s our desire to get all paths mitigated and safe prior to the next round of winter weather that begins as early as tonight.”  

McVaugh added, “We have had several incidents of natural slides across the state, along the I-70 mountain corridor and here in southwest Colorado.  We take proactive measures to close the passes in order to trigger avalanche paths in a safe controlled environment with no vehicles on the highway.”   

CDOT PHOTO: An extensive amount of debris including limbs and trees were brought down with this triggered avalanche. More than a half mile of snow slabs, 10 to 30 ft. deep in some areas, have fallen onto the highway. This slide path is known as Brooklyns, located on the south side of Red Mountain summit, US 550.  


Northbound travelers from Durango can reach Silverton. Southbound travelers from Ridgway can reach Ouray. However, through traffic or motorists traveling from Durango to Ouray (or Ouray to Durango) may consider the alternate, more westerly route via CO Highway 145 through Telluride. See attached map below.