Operational update on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon

News Release

July 30, 2021 - Statewide News -

Media kit available here

GLENWOOD CANYON -- Glenwood Canyon continues to experience severe impacts from debris flows along burn scars from the Grizzly Creek fire. A safety closure continues to be in place for Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, and is anticipated to last through the weekend. The extended safety closure is necessary due to significant clean up required after Thursday’s mudslides and debris flows, as well as continued heavy rain in the forecast. CDOT reminds travelers that weather and safety conditions can shift precipitously in a manner of moments in this area, and weather forecasts suggest rain and significant mudslide risk through the weekend. 

I-70 Mudslide 1

At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 29, Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon was closed due to a Flash Flood Warning for the Grizzly Creek burn scar area. CDOT closed I-70 at standard exits to keep the travelling public safe and to access recommended detour routes. At 6:00 p.m. that Flash Flood Warning and a Flash Flood Watch expired, and I-70 was reopened.

Mudslide on I-70

Later last night at approximately 9:00 p.m., a new Flash Flood Warning went into effect after storm cells quickly built up in the area. Mudslides and debris reached I-70 within a few minutes. Throughout this time, CDOT highway maintenance personnel were working to secure the roadway and protect life safety. While debris was flowing down onto the roadway, CDOT temporarily evacuated its operations center in Hanging Lake Tunnel and had operations personnel working in the complex shelter in place for their safety. By approximately 10:45 p.m. the Hanging Lake Tunnel operations center was back online.

Mudslide on I-70 - flooded road

CDOT staff at the tunnel assisted travelers who were trapped on I-70 by debris flows and sought shelter at Hanging Lake Tunnel; 29 motorists sheltered at the tunnel complex overnight. In total, CDOT has accounted for 108 individuals who have now been either evacuated from Glenwood Canyon or have been moved to a safe place. 

CDOT crews are now working to regain operational access throughout Glenwood Canyon. Because the National Weather Service has placed this area back under a Flash Flood Watch, there is a limited window of time to move all abandoned vehicles to safety. 

With significant additional rain forecasted for the area and the possibility of additional debris flows, I-70 will remain closed between Exits 87 (West Rifle) and 133 (Dotsero). This closure will last at least through this weekend. 

CDOT strongly asks that motorists use the recommended northern alternate route via I-70 - CO 9 - US 40 - CO 13. Westbound motorists from the Denver metro area should exit I-70 at Exit 205 (Silverthorne) and travel north on Colorado Highway 9 towards Kremmling. Travelers will continue west on US Highway 40 and then south on CO 13 to complete the alternate route and return to westbound I-70 at Rifle (Exit 90). Eastbound travelers can detour using the same route in reverse.