(CBS4) – After the cleanup of three small debris slides in Glenwood Canyon, Friday morning’s re-opening of Interstate 70 is very good news to at least one business.
“It affects all of our business and our employees,” said Ken Murphy, owner of Adventure Outdoors.
There may be no other company with a bigger percentage stake in getting the highway open again. The company has many activities that are dependent on Glenwood Canyon; rafting, biking, ATV tours, horseback rides and jeep tours at the Bair Ranch in the canyon.
In addition, Adventure Outdoors is the company that handles the reservation system for now-closed Hanging Lake. The company manages the entry point, looks after the facilities and monitors the bottom of the trail in addition to answering phone calls and emails.
“We had to unfortunately tell everybody this morning ‘Listen there’s no chance it’s going to open up for this year,'” said Murphy on Thursday night.
There’s no clear timeline for reopening the trail up to the lake, and thousands of reservations are now canceled. Some people are donating their fees to help in the rebuild, but the work is clearly very significant.
“From what I understand, it’s going to take a considerable amount of money to fix this trail and get it right for the next 100 years.”
Adventure Outdoors is down about 80% in business from the mudslides.
“Out of all the companies, at least activity wise, we’re being hit from east to west throughout the canyon,” said Murphy.
But there is some hope. Among other things, rafting is back on. Adventure Outdoors and other outfitters created an effort to clear the Colorado River in the canyon of debris over the weekend. Soon after, rafting was given the okay.
“It took a lot of work, we were all in there as a community clearing debris out of the river and getting the river runnable, taking our guides back up, because it has changed.”
Seeing the canyon from the river, he says, gives a new understanding of the damage of the mudslides and the origin of them with last year’s Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar.
The state was quickly cooperative in allowing guests who use Adventure Outdoors dry land activities like horseback and ATV riding at Bair Ranch access. They were allowed to park at Dotsero and the company shuttled people in. That cooperation Murphy found impressive.
“I think, if you look at CDOT’s reaction to us in Bair Ranch and CDOT’s reaction to us getting on the river and the river community, it’s been nothing but amazing and super fast, and they need to be commended on that. Same with Garfield County and the city of Glenwood Springs, I mean they’re there for us.”
Other long term issues may take a while. Bike rentals are taking a hit. The bike path is wiped out in part of the canyon and while the company suggests other trails, getting all the way through the canyon again may be a long way off.
“I think, you know, 2023 we might be up and running… I doubt the bike trail is a priority at this stage,” said Murphy.
Even with the highway closed, he was suggesting that people experience a new part of Colorado by taking the long way around through places like Independence Pass.
That’s a tough sell, but it is making the best of it.
“You’ve got to make lemonade out of lemons here, and in fact I thought, our season was done and yet it’s back up and running, we’ve just got to convince people to come back to Glenwood and that’s it’s you know we’re open.”