FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Sept. 13, 2013, 11:30 a.m. MDT (updates to follow)
CONTACT: Patrick O'Driscoll, NPS Intermountain Region public affairs 303-969-2839 / email@example.com
DENVER – Rocky Mountain National Park has closed and is escorting remaining visitors out of the park in the wake of major rainfall in the park and flooding in neighboring Estes Park, Superintendent Vaughn Baker announced Friday.
Baker said Trail Ridge Road, the route that connects the park's east and west sides over a 12,183-foot summit, remains open only to official and emergency traffic. But because rain and flooding have close all routes leading into Estes Park at the east entrance to the park, Baker said the park is allowing community residents who need to leave to use Trail Ridge Road to exit the area to the west.
"Our first priority is the well-being of all park visitors and staff," Baker said Friday. "The heavy rainfall and flooding of streams and creeks have saturated the soil and made movement in and around the park a significant safety concern. We hope to reopen as soon as the danger and disruption have passed."
The storm, which has knocked out roads, stranded residents and drenched much of Colorado's urban Front Range and neighboring foothills communities for three days, also has left the park with only limited radio communications. Baker said all employees inside the park have been accounted for, and some have been evacuated from their park housing as a further precaution.
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Baker said the park is monitoring conditions at two small dams inside Rocky Mountain to ensure the safety of anyone downstream. The main dam of interest, at Lily Lake, was structurally repaired last fall under the direction of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The park also is working to mount rescue efforts for two hikers reportedly stranded by the bad weather on Longs Peak, the 14,259-foot mountain that is one of the park's most popular hiking and climbing attractions.
Last updated: February 24, 2015