I-70 Glenwood Canyon rest areas and recreation path to close at 5 p.m due to weather forecast

Travel Advisory

May 2, 2021 - Northwestern Colorado - Safety closure is due to rain forecast for the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar above I-70 in Glenwood Canyon

I-70 MOUNTAIN CORRIDOR ― The Colorado Department of Transportation will close rest areas and the recreation path along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon this evening. The safety closure is anticipated to begin at 5 p.m. and will affect the No Name, Grizzly Creek, Hanging Lake and Bair Ranch rest areas due to weather forecasts calling for rainfall above the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar. The closure is anticipated to continue overnight and is necessary for CDOT to be prepared in the event of a safety closure for I-70. The rest areas and path will continue to be closed until the forecast improves. I-70 continues to be open and is not affected at this time, with current conditions always posted at COtrip.org.

If there is moderate, heavy or extreme rain in Glenwood Canyon over the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar, it is very likely there will be a debris flow, mudslides and rockfall. To protect motorists from these and other hazards, CDOT has a safety closure protocol in place.   

If there is a Flash Flood Watch for the Grizzly Creek burn scar, CDOT will have personnel and equipment on standby in preparation for a closure of I-70. If there is a Flash Flood Warning for the Grizzly Creek burn scar, CDOT will close I-70 in Glenwood Canyon from Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) to Exit 133 (Dotsero). Only local traffic on I-70 will be allowed east of Exit 109. All traffic in the canyon will immediately be evacuated from I-70. CDOT, Colorado State Patrol and local agencies will assist with evacuating the canyon as quickly as possible. The safety closure will continue CDOT determines it is safety reopen I-70.

Be Prepared

Motorists planning to travel on I-70, visit rest areas or use the recreation path in Glenwood Canyon should pay close attention to weather forecasts. If there is rain in the forecast, be prepared for a safety closure of I-70, rest areas and recreation path. CDOT recommends that travelers have a back up plan in the event that closures are necessary. Motorists should be familiar with the recommended alternate route (more information below) and should check www.cotrip.org for the latest road conditions and route options. CDOT also recommends that travelers bring an emergency kit with water, snacks, a flashlight and a blanket, as mountain conditions often change suddenly.

What alternate route should I take during an I-70 closure in Glenwood Canyon?
If a safety closure of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon is anticipated to last longer than two hours, CDOT recommends a northern alternate route using Colorado Highway 9, US Highway 40 and  Colorado Highway 13. This alternate route is not the same as the 2020 detour. Motorists should anticipate delays on the alternate route due to additional detour traffic. 

  • WESTBOUND I-70: Motorists coming from the Denver metro area or Interstate 25 can travel westbound on I-70 to Silverthorne, then turn north onto CO 9. In Kremmling, travelers should turn onto westbound US Highway 40 towards Steamboat Springs. After reaching Craig, motorists can return south via CO 13 towards Rifle. Access to I-70 westbound is at Rifle.

  • EASTBOUND I-70: Motorists traveling eastbound from Utah or Grand Junction can reach the Denver Metro area by traveling the route above in reverse. CO 13 north to US 40 east to CO 9 south.

CDOT strongly discourages travelers from using highways south of I-70 for an alternate route, due to extensive construction closures. CDOT also asks that motorists not use Cottonwood Pass Road (in Eagle/Garfield counties), Hagerman Pass, Eagle/Thomasville Road or other county or forest service roads in Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties as a detour. These roads are not built for heavy traffic or commercial oversize vehicles. Many of these four-wheel drive roads also do not have cell phone coverage. 

Encountering Inclement Weather

If you are stuck in a closure waiting for a road to be cleared of mud or rocks, do not leave your car unless absolutely necessary. Never hang out in the grassy median located between lanes. If traffic is moving in the opposite direction, the median can be a hazardous area. Emergency response vehicles and heavy equipment may also need the median area to move about and access the emergency scene.

Lengthy closures on the interstate may also be the result of staged releases. As stopped traffic backs up, creating long lines, traffic will be let go in stages, allowing traffic queues ahead to clear, before releasing more traffic. 

Driver Safety

When motorists drive up onto a flooded area, there are several precautions to follow.  

  • Never drive through any flooded area, you do not know how deep or how fast the water is running. 

  • Even 8-10 inches of water can float an average-sized car, which can be easily swept off the road. 

  • Driving too fast on wet roads or in flooded areas can cause a vehicle to hydroplane. Never use your cruise control during rainy conditions with standing water on the roadway.

  • Any amount of flooding or mud can obstruct the roadway and hinder drivers from knowing exactly where to drive. If you cannot see the roadway, be smart and wait for the water to subside. 

  • Water and mud can contain unknown hazards hidden under the surface – rocks or other debris, like plant material and tree branches.

Know Before You Go

Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include: