CDOT helps reopen road after Dinosaur National Monument rock slide
A major roadway into Dinosaur National Monument that closed near the town of Dinosaur Monday is expected to reopen Tuesday night as crews work to clear large boulders from the path.
In a news release late Monday afternoon, the National Park Service said a scenic portion of Harpers Corner Road near the Plug Hat Butte area some four miles from the Canyon Visitor’s Center was closed.
The National Park Service said the Dinosaur Quarry on the Utah side of the monument was unaffected by the rock slide.
Though the rock slide occurred on a weekday, May and June are important tourism months to the monument.
The release did not specify how long it might take to reopen the road, but on Tuesday morning, Dan Johnson — Dinosaur’s chief of interpretation, education, and visitor services — said they had enlisted the help of heavy equipment from the Colorado Department of Transportation to make the area drivable again.
“This morning staff were assessing and removing loose rock that was hanging above the rock slide so that the area is safe to work in,” Johnson said. “Once that is completed, we can start the cleanup of the rocks on the road itself.”
Johnson pointed out there are multiple routes into and out of Dinosaur National Monument, but some are only for lifted and gifted drivers.
“People can still access Harpers Corner Road by using Moffat County Road 16 which is a gravel road,” Johnson said. “They can use that or the Yampa Bench Road to access Echo Park. The Yampa Bench Road should only be driven by high clearance vehicles.”
This year has been a wet one so far. Although those conditions may contribute rock slides like Monday’s and other potential hazards related to rising rivers, Johnson said the moisture has made this year different in one major way.
“National parks like Dinosaur are dynamic landscapes where natural phenomena like rock slides can occur at anytime,” Johnson said. “River levels are forecasted to rise over the next week so visitors should be cautious around the Green and Yampa rivers. The wet conditions have contributed to an outstanding display of wildflowers this year.”
By Tuesday afternoon, Johnson said crews expected Harpers Corner Road to be reopened by 6 p.m.
Johnson said CDOT was instrumental in reopening the roadway.
“CDOT assisted with rock removal since they have some heavier equipment,” Johnson said.
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A Garfield County commissioner angrily denounced Pitkin County and state transportation officials Friday as “disrespectful, arrogant, gutless and selfish” for closing Independence Pass earlier this week.