Flavor of the month: Rocky road

Getting to Grand Mesa a bit tricky, but possible

Massive boulders that tumbled from a hillside still blocked Colorado Highway 65 through Plateau Canyon on Friday. Crews from Yenter Construction, working in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation, are working to clear about 300 tons of rock from the hills above the roadway. An additional 300 tons of rock need to be cleared from the road, which was damaged in the huge slide. Photo courtesy of Tracy Trulove, Colorado Department of Transportation.

A massive rockslide on Colorado Highway 65 doesn’t seem to be keeping some powderhounds from getting in some fresh tracks.

Motorists from the Grand Valley wanting to get in on a foot of new snow that fell by Friday morning at the top of Powderhorn Mountain Resort are taking the De Beque cutoff road, as the primary route is closed.

“Most people understand they’ll have to add 20 minutes of driving for 12 inches of fresh snow,” said Sam Williams, general manager of Powderhorn Mountain Resort. “It’s worth it.”

The roughly 700 people in Collbran and residents of Mesa, or anyone who wants to get to Grand Mesa from Interstate 70, will have to take the cutoff. The De Beque cutoff is located at mile marker 62, at the De Beque exit.

From Grand Junction, it’s 55 miles from Grand Junction to Powderhorn, taking the De Beque cutoff. It’s 39 miles from Grand Junction to Powderhorn via Colorado 65.

A woman at the Alpine Motel in Collbran, 102 Spring St., said the cutoff adds about a 15- to 20-minute commute to Grand Junction, a destination most residents travel to daily.

“It’s not that bad,” she said of the extra mileage.

The Wagon Wheel Restaurant & Motel in Mesa is experiencing a bit of a slowdown in business since tons of rocks spilled onto the roadway Thursday, assistant manager Valerie Thompson said.

“We have noticed a decrease in people going up the mountain,” she added.

Truck-sized boulders that were reported blocking the way on Thursday afternoon also damaged the roadway, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Crews with CDOT estimate about 300 tons of rock need to be removed from the hills above the roadway and an additional 300 tons of rock need to be cleared.

Six boulders that are 15 feet by 15 feet are on the roadway, and another boulder measuring about 30 feet by 30 feet is resting on the guardrail, CDOT said.

Crews with Yenter Construction were working Friday to first clear rocks off the hillsides that are in danger of sliding. Today, crews will begin working on blasting and clearing debris off the roadway, CDOT said.

CDOT reported it will have a better idea of when the highway will be back open after the weekend.

“We’re really hoping to have it open Monday or Tuesday,” CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said.

Trulove was at the site Friday, and said the largest boulder is about the size of a small cabin. The impact of the rocks left a huge hole in the middle of the roadway, but crews believe they also can get it patched by early next week, Trulove said.

The rockslide occurred about three miles from the Powderhorn exit off Interstate 70.


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