US 550 Red Mountain Pass to Remain Closed Through the Weekend

March 7, 2019, 11:48 a.m. - Southwestern Colorado

Avalanche mitigation underway today on southern passes:

Coal Bank and Molas

CDOT PHOTO: The West Riverside slide was triggered earlier this week, on north Red Mountain Pass, US 550. The triggered avalanche brought down snow about 30 to 40 ft. deep and 250 ft. wide.

SOUTHWEST COLORADO ― Due to high avalanche hazard in the San Juan Mountains, the Colorado Department of Transportation has determined that US Highway 550 Red Mountain Pass will remain closed through the weekend. Unsettled weather has prevented crews from performing additional avalanche mitigation that is needed on Red Mountain Pass. When weather clears over next couple of days, crews will conduct avalanche control work.  


The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued high and extreme avalanche danger warnings across the state including, the North and South San Juan Mountain Ranges.

“The significant avalanche runs we are seeing on our mountain passes highlights the risk and why the pass will remain closed,” said CDOT Regional Transportation Director, Mike McVaugh. “We will not be placing our crews in areas along the US 550 mountain corridor where avalanche risk is high. Crews will continue working only in safe areas. Once broader avalanche mitigation has been conducted over the weekend, the risk will be reduced to manageable safe levels for the crews and the traveling public.”

CAIC WEBSITE IMAGE: CDOT’s partnering state agency, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, provides information to the public about avalanche conditions across Colorado.


This morning, Thursday, March 7 CDOT is performing winter maintenance operations, including avalanche mitigation, on Coal Bank and Molas Passes south of Silverton. Motorists are warned that this work will require periodic spot closures along the highway for much of the day. CDOT and the CAIC, have determined the mitigation is needed from the overnight snows received on the southern passes.

McVaugh explained, “Our winter corridor operations plan and priority for the US 550 mountain corridor is to keep the passes between Durango to Silverton open. We understand the importance for those living in Silverton to maintain access south and get to resources and medical care.”


CDOT reminds the traveling public that an alternate route is available for through traffic or motorists traveling from Durango to Ouray (or Ouray to Durango).  Motorists should consider the more westerly route via CO Highway 145 through Telluride. See attached map below.