CDOT: Safety closure in place for I-70 Glenwood Canyon due to high potential of flash flooding

The National Weather Service issues Flash Flood Warning for the Grizzly Creek burn area

STATEWIDE – CDOT is putting a safety closure in place for Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon due to a Flash Flood Warning issued by the National Weather Service. Closure points for westbound traffic will be Exit 133 (Dotsero) to Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs). Closure points for eastbound traffic will be from Exit 87 (West Rifle) to Exit 109 (Canyon Creek). The safety closure is in place to protect motorists from the potential of flash floods, mudslides, rockfall or other hazards that can be triggered by heavy rains at the location of Grizzly Creek burn scar area. The closure will remain in place through the duration of the Flash Flood Warning, which is forecast to end at 5:00 p.m. tonight. If a debris flow or mudslide occurs, motorists should be aware that I-70 will be closed for a longer period of time to allow maintenance crews to clear the highway.

Motorists can either seek the northern alternate route via Steamboat Springs or they may wait out the Flash Flood Warning and safety closure. Motorists who decide to wait out the closure MUST wait at a location off I-70, and will NOT be allowed to wait on the roadway.

If detouring, CDOT asks that motorists use the northern alternate route. Westbound motorists from the Denver metro area should plan on traveling on the northern recommended alternate route by exiting I-70 at Exit 205 (Silverthorne) and traveling north on Colorado Highway 9 towards Kremmling or by exiting I-70 at Exit 157 (Wolcott) and traveling north on Colorado Highway 131 towards Steamboat Springs. Travelers will then 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). Motorists traveling eastbound from Utah or Grand Junction can reach the Denver Metro area by traveling the route above in reverse.

The alternate route will require approximately 2.5 hours additional travel time to reach your destination, compared to traveling on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon. By traveling on the recommended alternate route, motorists can avoid major delays caused by rough roads and other hazards. Before detouring onto any alternate route, motorists should refer to www.cotrip.org for the latest road conditions.

Motorists are asked to not use smartphone navigation apps to look for alternate routes. There are many auxiliary roads such as Cottonwood Pass, Hagerman Pass and Eagle/Thomasville Road that are not passable and do not have cell service. Cottonwood Pass is restricted to local traffic only.


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. 

Be prepared 

Highway closures can last for as little as a few minutes or for as long as several hours. When drivers set out on a trip, especially through high country roads or the I-70 mountain corridor, it is wise to have the car supplied with an emergency kit. The kit should contain at the very minimum: water, snacks, flashlight, and a blanket. Remember to also carry water for your pets if you’re traveling with animals. You may even consider packing some items to keep you or children occupied while waiting in the car. Activity books, colored pencils or a deck of cards can help pass the time.   

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, anticipated travel impacts, and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:

A map of the alternate route during Glenwood Canyon closure.
CDOT: Safety closure in place for I-70 Glenwood Canyon due to high potential of flash flooding