#Runoff news: Glenwood Canyon bike path closed

The Glenwood Canyon as seen from the Glenwood Canyon Bike and Hike Path. Photo via http://thewanderingchick.com.
The Glenwood Canyon as seen from the Glenwood Canyon Bike and Hike Path. Photo via http://thewanderingchick.com.

From The Aspen Daily News:

Glenwood Canyon bike path closed due to high water
The Colorado Department of Transportation has begun its annual closure of the Glenwood Canyon bike path because of high water in the Colorado River.

The closure extends from Shoshone to the Hanging Lake rest area and from Siloam Springs to Bair Ranch, according to a CDOT statement.

“Cyclists and pedestrians can still access the path from Glenwood Springs to the Grizzly Creek rest area at this time,” the statement says. “Bair Ranch rest area to Hanging Lake rest area is currently open, but crews anticipate it will be flooded in the next few days as river flows are reporting to run around 11,000 cubic feet per second.”

During recent years with high water, sections of the bike path have been washed away completely, necessitating a large reconstruction effort.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Arkansas River hit 4,000 cubic feet per second at Parkdale Monday — four times greater than one week ago — and was still rising. Advisories are in effect for the river through the Royal Gorge, Pine Creek and the Numbers. For rafting companies, that means shifting operations to other parts of the river that can be equally exciting.

Releases from Pueblo Dam have been ramped up in the last few days as well in order to match the flows coming in. On Monday, the level was increased to 4,200 cfs, and could be raised even more.

“We’ll have to look at Avondale and keep watching the flows upstream,” said Steve Witte, Water Division 2 engineer.

While the snowpack for the Upper Arkansas basin was ample because of May storms, there’s no way of knowing how fast it will melt.

Releases can be scaled back if the gauge at Avondale reaches 6,000 cfs. Flows from Fountain Creek, Chico Creek, Wild Horse Creek, the St. Charles River and other smaller tributaries must be accounted for and afternoon thunderstorms can quickly change the picture.

The high flows through Pueblo are a mixed blessing: Good for professionals, dangerous to amateurs.

“This weekend, we had hordes of people from Boulder, Denver and Grand Junction for river surfing,” said Bob Walker, who owns The Edge Ski, Paddle and Pack store. “When the waves come up, everybody comes in.”

It may look like fun, but those experts have whitewater-rated equipment and training, he said.

“The river is no place for inflatable toys. Kayakers can do well. River surfers stay in one place and can quickly get out of the main current so they don’t get swept down the river,” he said. “People may think they are good swimmers until they hit 55-degree water with a current.”

At least one person drowned in the Arkansas River last year, before it was closed to boating in Pueblo County during several weeks of prolonged high flows. In 2014, there were eight drownings.

It’s also a good time to get out on the lakes in a boat. Lake Pueblo and John Martin Reservoir water levels remain high, still swollen from last year’s rain and topped off by wet conditions so far this year.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

Glenwood bike path closed for high water

High Colorado River water levels due to spring runoff have forced the partial closure of the bike path in Glenwood Canyon east of Glenwood Springs.

The Colorado Department of Transportation said Monday it has closed portions of the path from the Shoshone Interstate 70 exit to the Hanging Lake rest area and from Siloam Springs at the canyon’s east end to the Bair Ranch rest area.

Walkers and bikers can continue to travel on the path from Glenwood Springs to the Grizzly Creek rest area. It’s also still open from Bair Ranch to Hanging Lake, but that stretch is expected to be flooded and close in the coming days as the river continues to rise.

The latest information on the path’s status can be found by visiting http://www.cotrip.org and clicking on the Statewide Alert tab.

From Aspen Public Radio (Elise Thatcher):

Rivers in the area are expected to hit peak flows in the next few weeks and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office is one of several agencies warning residents to be careful when recreating in the water.

The sheriff’s office said late last week that inexperienced rafters are a big concern, and the Colorado River can often be deceiving.

“Coming from the Shoshone water plant down through Grizzly Creek is probably one of the most treacherous areas we have,” explained sheriff’s office spokesman Walt Stowe. “There’s a lot of real fast water there [and] lots of large rocks in the river.”

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