Motorists urged to avoid travel to the high country due to fire dangers

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Embers from the Grizzly Creek Fire illuminate the mountains above Glenwood Springs, Colo., on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. Wildfires burning in western Colorado continue to grow in warm, windy weather, fueled by drought conditions. The Grizzly Creek Fire initially broke out along interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon just east of Glenwood Springs. (Chelsea Self/Glenwood Springs Post Independent via AP)

COLORADO — As firefighters work to contain multiple wildfires in Colorado’s high country, particularly in northern Colorado and most recently with evacuations in Grand County and Estes Park, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is urging motorists to avoid traveling to the high country through this weekend.

While colder weather and expected snow will help in firefighting efforts later this weekend, the fire dangers are expected to remain high. 

Winter weather expected on Sunday and Monday could bring up to a foot of snow on mountain passes. Accumulations may also affect the Front Range and Eastern Plains. Commutes early next week are likely to be affected. With CDOT crews plowing snow and assisting with road closures due to fires, resources will likely be stretched in clearing possible crashes and stuck vehicles. Many motorists tend to drive too fast for the conditions during the beginning of a snow season and lack appropriate tires for the snow.

“Limiting as much travel as possible over the coming days will help the state focus resources where they are most needed,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “Every spun-out car and crash will require attention to get roads cleared again, and avoidable traffic makes it harder for first responders and evacuees to get where they need to go.  Staying off the road when you can is a small way we can all our fellow Coloradans during this hard time.”  

“As evacuations and emergency operations continue throughout these communities, we are asking Coloradoans to resist traveling to or through the area,“ stated Matthew Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Please keep our neighbors in your thoughts during this challenging time.”

Latest Road Impacts

More than 100 CDOT personnel are assisting with road closures while other crew members are preparing for the upcoming winter storm. Crews are staffing roadside access points to evacuated areas, patrolling the closed road segments within the affected areas, and are assisting in the clearing of roadways to aid first responders. Crews are also providing escorts through the affected areas for emergency services. 

Please note roadways may open and re-open as needed for everyone’s safety. Roads going into Estes Park are closed, while roads leaving Estes Park are open. Conditions are likely to change quickly, so motorists should check COtrip.org for the latest conditions. Please see below for current closure information:

  • US 36 closed between Broadway north of Boulder to Lyons for emergency operations due to wildfire. Closure points (subject to shift): 
    • US 36 closure at the intersection of US36 and CO66 at mile marker 22-32
    • US 36 at the intersection of US 36 and Broadway in Boulder MM 35.5
  • CO7 closed between Lyons – Hwy 72 (Peak to Peak Highway) for emergency operations due to wildfire. Closure Points (subject to shift): 
    • CO7 at mile marker 19 (CO72) 
    • CO7 mile marker 32 (South of Lyons)
  • CO 7 closed northbound between CO 72 (south of Allenspark) to Estes Park
    • Southbound remains open for evacuees.
  • US 36 westbound closed between Apple Valley Rd (west Lyons) to Estes Park
    • Eastbound remains open for evacuees.
  • CO14 closed at Walden – Rustic. Closure Points: 
    • CO 14 Eastbound / Westbound Walden – Rustic MM 34-91
    • Alternate route: I-25 to I-80 through Wyoming, or I-25 to I-70 through Colorado.
    • Larimer County working with CDOT to open CO14 by Monday, depending on weather.
    • Assessment team scheduled Monday to determine high risk potential for rock fall and flooding. 
    • Maintenance actively striping, replacing delineation and sign destroyed by the fire. 
  • CO 125 closed in both directions from Granby to Rand (Mile marker 0-31 as of 2pm)
    • Alternate route: US 40 south to I-70 west, then north on CO 9 to US 40, then east on CO 14.
  • US 34 is closed in both directions between Granby and into Rocky Mountain National Park (as Trail Ridge Road). Rocky Mountain National Park is closed as of Thur. Oct 22 9AM.
    • Alternate route: Travel east to Estes Park and neighboring areas not recommended. If necessary, travelers can take US 40 south to I-70 east to Denver, then north on I-25.
  • US 34 closed westbound between Dam Store (MM 83) – Estes Park (approx. MM 63) due to Estes Park evacuation order. Eastbound remains open.
  • US 40 closed in both directions between Hot Sulphur Springs (MM 202) and intersection with US 34 (MM 211) in Granby. 
    • Alternate route: US 40 south to I-70 west, then north on CO 9 towards Kremmling (US 40).
    • Please note: US 40 is open from I-70 to Granby, as well as west of Hot Sulphur Springs. CDOT asks that travelers avoid the area unless necessary. 

These closure points are current as of 4 p.m. on October 22. Go to cotrip.org for the latest information on road closures.  

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