GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– A year that has already been devastating to businesses got even worse in Glenwood Springs and the entire Roaring Fork Valley when the Grizzly Creek Fire shut down Interstate 70 on Monday. All lanes of I-70 will remain closed until further notice, along with Independence Pass.

(credit: Glenwood Fire)

“It’s devastating to have this happen to us right now,” said Lisa Langer the Director of Tourism Promotion for Visit Glenwood.

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Glenwood Springs had strict COVID-19 restrictions through most of the spring, during a time of year when spring break travelers would be passing through. Things had started to rebound this summer.

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“We have big attractions; we have wide open attractions. It’s just a place where people can come and relax and rejuvenate and feel safe while they’re here,” Langer said. “People were chomping at the bit to get here. People had reservations they kept calling, ‘are you open? Are attractions open?”

(credit: Visit Glenwood Springs)

Many attractions like the popular hot springs, shops and restaurants are still open, it’s just taking hours around a lengthy detour for people to get to Glenwood, Carbondale or Aspen.

“Our August business was really looking positive and then all the sudden we had this fire pop up,” said Bob Stepniewski, the Food and beverage Manager at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. “The road closure and the fire is tragic for so many reasons.”

A popular summertime mode of travel to get to Glenwood is aboard the Amtrak California Zephyr. That route has now been routed into Wyoming and tickets have been refunded.

(credit: Visit Glenwood Springs)

“We had to cut our business back pretty drastically just for the social distancing, yet we were doing pretty well and things were looking pretty positive and this just took us out at our knees,” Stepniewski said.

The hope is the fire will burn away from the interstate allowing CDOT to reopen the roadway. Bringing tourists back to the area.

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“We moved all of our spring advertising into the summer so we could regain some of the loss. We’ll be pushing fall harder than normal,” Langer said.

Jeff Todd