I-70 Through Glenwood Canyon Closed Both Ways Saturday After Threats Of Flash Flooding

Courtesy of CDOT
The aftermath of debris flows around I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, Friday, July 23, 2021.

Updated on July 24 at 4:10 p.m.

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon fully has closed again in both directions. The National Weather Service also issued a flash flood warning in the Grizzly Creek burn scar area until 6:30 p.m.

Our original story follows below.

Interstate 70 was closed in both directions through Glenwood Canyon for most of Friday. Colorado Department of Transportation said the potential for flash flooding is too high.

The highway was completely shut down between Rifle and Dotsero. There is no estimate for when CDOT will lift the closure. Local traffic is allowed eastbound past the Canyon Creek exit, but drivers should expect delays as crews work to keep the road clear. Flooding and debris near the Grizzly Creek burn scar blocked the highway Thursday night.

Officials also closed I-70 on Tuesday due to flooding, which destroyed five buildings northwest of Fort Collins. One woman died after floodwater swept through the Poudre Canyon, and rescuers are still searching for three other adults who are missing.

State Highway 125 is also temporarily closed because of slides between Trail Creek and Willowcreek Pass. CDOT says there is no estimated reopening time for that route, either.

Many of the slides that have forced closures in recent weeks have happened near areas burned by wildfires. Those burn scars are more susceptible to flash flooding in the two years following a fire, and these scorch marks are likely to get bigger and more common in the coming years. Forest fires are expected to become larger and more unpredictable due to the drier and hotter conditions spurred on by human-caused climate change. 

Even a small amount of rain could be enough for debris from a burn scar to flow downstream and cause damage to homes and campsites. Tuesday's flooding in Poudre Canyon was triggered by just an inch of rain that fell within half an hour.