Glenwood Canyon boaters advised to be aware of altered river conditions
The U.S. Forest Service has issued an alert advising river users on the Colorado River in and downstream from Glenwood Canyon to be aware of changing river conditions due to the recent mudslides and debris flows.
The same debris flows that closed Interstate 70 for 15 days recently also altered the river channel, and the rapids have changed, the Forest Service said in a news release.
Conditions could continue to change throughout the remainder of the summer and fall boating season, the release states.
The popular Shoshone rapids upstream from Grizzly Creek are still considered Class 3 rapids, the release notes. However, boaters should be on the lookout for debris, it warned.
“Users should be prepared for changes, and we encourage every user — even seasoned boaters — to look before they leap and scout rapids before running these stretches,” Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Leanne Veldhuis said in the release. “In the canyon, use the bike path where possible to preview what’s downriver.”
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The bike path remains closed to regular users due to damage caused by the slides and the altered river channel. River access is currently available in only the middle part of Glenwood Canyon at the Shoshone put-in, as Grizzly Creek and Bair Ranch remain closed.
“We encourage folks to keep an eye on the forecast and know that we will continue to implement safety closures in the canyon when the National Weather Service calls for a flash flood warning,” added Todd Blake, Colorado Department of Transportation deputy maintenance superintendent.
Whitewater Rafting owner Erik Larsson said in a recent interview river conditions in the canyon will likely continue to change through next spring when the spring runoff hits and the new debris is distributed along the river bottom.
“To put a silver lining on it all, we are going to have new and interesting rapids to run then,” he said of the prospects before Shoshone officially reopened.
CDOT officials said the Grizzly Creek rest area will remain closed until water and utility services are repaired. Private boaters may now access the river at the Shoshone rest area but will need to complete their river trip at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs or further downstream, according to the release.
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