Flood Impacts Will Close Old Fall River Road Through 2014
Rocky Mountain National Park received significant damages on bridges, roads and trails in the historic floods that occurred in September. However, damages in the park were relatively minor in comparison to the disastrous flooding that downstream communities east of the park experienced. The west side of the park was largely unaffected by the storm with flooding occurring only east of the Continental Divide.
Damages on Old Fall River Road are extensive and the road will remain closed to vehicles through 2014. Old Fall River Road is a historic dirt road built between 1913 and 1920. Due to the winding, narrow nature of the road, the scenic 9.4-mile route is one-way only and normally opens from the fourth of July to early October. It follows the steep slope of Mount Chapin’s south face. It is unknown at this time whether hikers and bicyclists will be allowed on the road next year. Park staff are working with the Federal Highway Administration on assessments of the Alluvial Fan area and Old Fall River Road. Cost estimates and design concepts are still being determined.
Repair work has been completed in the Wild Basin parking lot, the Twin Sisters Road, and is nearing completion on the McGraw Ranch Bridge and the Aspenglen Bridge.
Known damage to trails and pedestrian access are mainly in the Fall River, Lumpy Ridge, Bear Lake, Northfork, Twin Sisters and Wild Basin areas. Some trails are closed to stock use.
Due to the flood, backcountry travelers may encounter different conditions than they have experienced in the past. Visitors may find missing foot bridges, missing trail segments, uneven trail surfaces, unstable slopes, falling trees due to soil moisture, rutted trails, damaged water bars and steps, difficult water crossings, and missing directional signs. Visitors should be prepared. Most of Rocky Mountain National Park is designated wilderness, where self-reliance, discovery and adventure are expected.
The next steps will be to assess at what level park staff will “repair” damaged trails. The flood was a natural event which will be taken in to consideration as park staff move forward in determining what repairs should be made.
For more detailed information about flood impacts to trails please visit the park’s website, www.nps.gov/romo or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.