Debris and mud covers roads, trails, train tracks in Glenwood Springs

Cassandra Ballard
Post Independent
A train sits stuck in a mud and debris flow that came off of the mountainside above Wulfsohn Road with the rapid snowmelt late Monday and continuing into Tuesday.
City of Glenwood Springs/Courtesy photo

After a quick weather jump from cold to warm over the past week, there have now been multiple areas of mud and debris flow throughout Glenwood Springs and the surrounding area due to the rapidly melting snow on Red Mountain and elsewhere. 

On Tuesday morning, a major debris flow blocked access to the wastewater treatment facility in West Glenwood, along with covering the Union Pacific Railroad train tracks in West Glenwood, causing a freight train to get stuck. 

“A long and heavy snowpack winter paired with a quick rise in temperatures is making for an abnormal runoff season,” City Manager Beverli Marshall said in a Tuesday morning news release.

There were no injuries or people unaccounted for from the flows, according to the release. 

“We are coordinating with the Union Pacific Railroad and Xcel Energy on cleanup operations, and we continue to work with geotechnical experts on identifying vulnerabilities and planning for additions to resilient infrastructure,” Marshall said in the release. “In the meantime, additional slides are possible.”

City staff has also contacted local contractors for additional help to regain access to the water treatment plant. 

On Monday, local trails on Red Mountain and at Wulsohn Mountain Park, and on the higher trails of the South Canyon trail system were closed from mud flows, and the city was urging people to stay off the closed trails.

An excavator gathers branches and mud caused by a debris slide at Red Mountain in Glenwood Springs on Tuesday morning.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

In addition, Garfield County emergency management officials reported late Monday that County Road 127 (3 Mile Road) was covered with water and mud and a private bridge was washed out at the half mile mark due to flooding on Three Mile Creek. Several residences were also being impacted.

And, the Colorado Department of Transportation was reporting mudflow activity in Glenwood Canyon near Interstate 70.

Flooding along Three Mile Road south of Glenwood Springs.
Garfield County Sheriff’s Office/Courtesy photo

Due to additional mud activity, portions of the West Midland Trailhead, Wulfsohn Trail North, Defiance Trail and Stevie Bob Trail are closed. Other sections of trail can still be accessed from the Community Center or the West Glenwood Roaring Fork Transportation Authority park and ride, the city release stated. 

In South Canyon, Tramway Trail is opened up to the point where it intersects the Lightning Bug Trail, the release states. The Upper Trailhead and upper portions of Tramway and Lighting Bug remained closed until further notice due to unstable soil conditions. 

Trail users can access the Tramway Trail at either the lower trailhead, close to the Archery Range, or at the midpoint near the landfill entrance. 

Trail users are also advised to avoid the Jeanne Golay Trail (Red Mountain Trail) and Grandstaff Trail. 

Wet trails can be fragile, and accessing them when they are closed by the city can cause them damage through erosion or to plantlife when walking to the side of the mud flows.

“Additionally, during spring runoff, if you encounter a stream of water crossing a trail the safest option is to turn around rather than risk crossing,” city officials said in the release. “During peak runoff, mountain snowmelt can quickly turn gentle streams into uncrossable paths.”

A truck drives through a pool of mud caused from a debris flow down Red Mountain in Glenwood Springs on Tuesday morning.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

There will be expected heavy truck traffic in the area by Red Mountain for cleanup on Tuesday.

An emergency response fund will be established to cover initial costs of cleanup with contributions from the water fund, wastewater fund and capital projects fund, the release states. There is not yet an estimate of the total cost for cleanup and response.

There are no estimated times for reopening. Trail statuses will be updated on this post and at

A front loader clears mud and debris during a debris slide down Red Mountain in Glenwood Springs on Tuesday morning.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

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