BOULDER CANYON, Colo. (CBS4)– They don’t call this Boulder Canyon for nothing. Keeping them on the mountains and off the road is the difficult part.

Colorado Highway 119 reopened in Boulder Canyon at around 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Large boulders the size of SUVs fell on the highway Tuesday evening. It was previously estimated that blasting the rocks to make them smaller and movable would take several days.

The Colorado Department of Transportation says the road is “still rough” and urged drivers to be cautious. Crews will repair the pavement in “the near future.”

CDOT says between 300-500 cubic yards of rock were hauled away. They add one cubic yard is about the size and weight of a dishwasher in a typical home.

(credit: CDOT)

“The rain that we get followed a cold winter, that water gets into those rocks and expands and that’s where we get the rockfall,” said Jared Fiel, a spokesman  for Colorado Department of Transportation.

He calls this a clean fall. That means no extra rock scaling was needed to prevent other boulders from falling. The road was closed from mile marker 26 through 41.

“A rockslide fell right in front of me, and had I been going a few minutes faster I might have been dead. It was very frightening,” said Jonathan Miller of previous rock slide.

Signs warned motorists away, but those who ploughed ahead going up the canyon found a road block at Sugarloaf. There are ways around the slide area up over the mountains and through the mud.

Roberto Gonzalez took a side road.

“It was pretty slippery and slidy it was pretty bad this morning.over there we got about six inches of sloppy snow.”

By midafternoon rocks still covered much of the road with heavy equipment being called in help haul it away.

(credit: CDOT)

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, the initial geologic assessment shows that the rock face where the boulders fell is stable and that no additional rock scaling or removing of rocks may be necessary. However, there does appear to be damage to the highway so it’s anticipated that paving work will need to be completed once the boulders are removed.

“Most of the larger rocks will need to be blasted and, because the area of the fall is very narrow, all of the material will need to be hauled away instead of just being pushed out of the way,” said CDOT in a news release on Wednesday afternoon.

The rockfall didn’t happen in the area where CDOT is working on the permanent repair from the 2013 flooding. The contractor for that project does have equipment and resources on hand to help with the rock cleanup.

(credit: CDOT)

The slide happened during heavy rain and snow in the area, referred to a “The Narrows” on Tuesday night. No one was injured and no vehicles have been reported as damaged.


Rick Sallinger