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Mudslides in Glenwood Canyon force rafters to reroute

Mudslides have shut down I-70 several times over the past week, forcing rafting companies to adjust.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. — Interstate 70 reopened Sunday in Glenwood Canyon after being closed yet again because of mudslides.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said there were five slides on Saturday that buried parts of the road in up to 9 feet of mud. Crews were still working to move that debris out of the canyon.

The road closures don’t just impact traffic. Businesses that rely on Glenwood Canyon have also been forced to make adjustments.

"We cannot go there," said Kim Lindsay, a guide with Timberline Tours in Eagle. "This is new, but as a result of the fires last year, I guess it’s something that we might have to live with this summer and make some plans accordingly."

When Glenwood Canyon closes because of mudslides, people like Lindsay feel the impact. She can’t get her customers into Glenwood Canyon to raft down the Colorado River when I-70 is shut down. They’ve been forced to get creative, taking tours to different rivers while the cleanup continues inside the canyon.

RELATED: I-70 back open in both directions after Glenwood Canyon mudslides

"It just creates a bit of a logistical juggle, but we’re figuring it out," Lindsay said. "Even if there’s just a hint of it, some of that land slides and covers the highway, blocking our access to and or from the river."

The Grizzly Creek Fire last summer also shut down the canyon. Now the impact of the fire continues with mudslides. Lindsay said CDOT has put together a warning system to let them know when the canyon might shut down so they can reroute their business to places like the Arkansas River. They also work together to make sure they can keep operating as long as possible.

"CDOT and the Forest Service have been awesome," she said. 

On the one of the busiest weekends of the year, mudslides aren’t what visitors came to see.

CDOT continues to warn drivers here that more closures could happen in the future as heavy rain brings mud from the Grizzly Creek burn scar.

"It doesn’t really matter what stretch we go out on every day," Lindsay said. "We’re just pumped to show people our backyards and show people what’s possible out here."

RELATED: ‘I’m a rafter, not a firefighter’: Fire crews get help from unlikely places to fight Grizzly Creek Fire

RELATED: 'We're just calling him our angel': Rafting guide rescues family biking near Glenwood Springs wildfire

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