Recreating in Glenwood Canyon includes added risk of debris flow

Local News

Drone view of Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — The White River Nation Forest reminds people planning to recreate in Glenwood Canyon to be aware of the risk of debris flow around the Grizzly Creek Fire scar.

“Even moderate rainfall rates can cause significant flooding and debris flow in the first few years after a wildfire,” said White River Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. “Check the forecast before heading out to recreate in Glenwood Canyon. If rain is forecast, you may want to consider another option.”

Modeling for the Grizzly Creek burn scar indicates that 0.25 inches of precipitation in 15 minutes could cause a severe debris flow. Debris flow modeling shows multiple areas where a debris flow risk is moderate to high, including areas adjacent to I-70, the No Name drainage and the Grizzly Creek drainage.

If you choose to recreate in Glenwood Canyon:

•            Be aware of the increased risk of debris flow and other post-fire hazards such as falling rocks and trees.

•            Be aware of the potential for closures to rest stops and the bike path if there is a flash flood watch, and to I-70 if there is a flash flood warning. Visit www.cotrip.org for the latest updates.

•            Be prepared to spend more time out than you anticipated in case there are closures.

•            Know what to do in case of a flash flood. According to the National Weather Service:

  • If you are in a drainage area or in other low spots, walk or climb to higher ground. Know your escape routes and act as quickly as possible. A short walk or climb to higher ground may just save your life.
  • Many flash flood deaths occur in vehicles. Turn around, don’t drown. Do not drive through a flooded roadway. The water may be much deeper than you think because the roadway may be damaged or washed away. One to two feet of water will carry away most vehicles. https://www.weather.gov/safety/flood  

“Debris flow risk around the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar will be with us for the next several years,” Fitzwilliams said.  

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