Closeup of the landslide of a blocked road Photo Credit: joshuaraineyphotography (iStock).

Photo Credit: joshuaraineyphotography (iStock).

It's spring in Colorado, which means rockslides are more likely to take place, creating a hazard to watch out for on Colorado's roads and trails.

It's important to note that rockslides can be a risk during any season. That being said, spring conditions can make them more likely during this time of the year.

During the spring, Colorado's temperature swings are pretty drastic. This can result in a freeze-thaw cycle during which moisture can drip down into gaps in and around rocks. As this moisture freezes again and then thaws, it expands, which can result in pushing rocks away from spots they've been tightly tucked during the colder months. Heavy rainfall and snowmelt can have a similar effect, causing the erosion of earth that may be keeping rocks in place. This can amplify this hazard during springtime storms.

When one rock falls, it can result in a cascading effect, knocking other rocks loose as it moves and falls down the mountain. As rocks shift, a full rockslide can occur, which basically means a large number of rocks shifting quickly downslope. This can be a major hazard for anyone on or below the slope, including those on some at-risk sections of roads.

An article from Vail Daily reports that there are 750 sites around the state regularly monitored by the Colorado Department of Transportation due to rockfall risk. Rockfall mitigation efforts take place, but it can be impossible to stop all rockfalls as they are very sporadic and unpredictable.

As a general rule of thumb for drivers, one rock on the road means more may be coming, especially if that rock on the road looks like it landed there recently. Use extreme caution in sections of road where this is the case and if one rock is spotted actively falling, avoid driving through that area until it is clear other rocks are not following it.

Debris flows can also occur during this time, especially during periods of heavy rainfall. Never drive through a debris flow.

Find additional tips about avoid rockfall risk on the Colorado Emergency Management website.

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(2) comments


Hi Jess here again ! Make sure you drive a four wheel drive on Tallahassee Road as some people may not know this okay! Have fun! YEA!!GOD Bless AMERICA!!


A few years ago we were driving over the Tallahassee road on Highway 9 and went the back way into Salida! Well it was interesting and fun! We drove for what seemed like hours and luckily had extra food and water with us, always have it anyway. We saw cattle way out in the middle of nowhere and beautiful homes or I should say ranches with all that cattle who knew they were there!. We kept going and ran into barely no road what so ever almost high centered but growing up back East in the countryside we knew to stay on one side only! so we kept going realizing we were leaving Fremont County into Chaffee County thank you for posts telling us the numbers for each mile! Now it got really interesting as the road was not really there was just a rough wagon wheel type of road, but kept going and finally hit road base type of road area and a real road again only to see a rock slide and a lot of mud from a Rockslide and all that mud was challenging but we stayed calm and made it through! Then we saw Chaffee signs and felt relieved but sad in a way as our drive coming to an end as we drove into back side of Salida and ride was over but we had fun and a picnic in a beautiful area! So this summer I recommend that you all get adventuresome and try Tallahassee Road! Jess

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