Flooding in Estes Park; webcams, phones down

Flooding on Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park, Colo.
Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park

Update, Sept. 22: Two routes into Estes Park are now open to all traffic: (1) Trail Ridge Road, weather permitting, and (2) the Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway from Black Hawk / Central City. Closed indefinitely are Hwy 72  through Coal Creek Canyon, Hwy 119 from Boulder to Nederland, Lefthand Canyon from Boulder to Ward, Hwy 7 from Lyons to Raymond, Hwy 36 from Lyons to Estes Park, and Hwy 34 from Loveland to Estes Park. See listings below for current road closures, conditions.

It’s been hard to get detailed information about the flooding in Estes Park, Colorado. Various sources confirm that Highways 36, 34, and 7 are all washed out in places and closed indefinitely. The only way in or out of town is via Trail Ridge Road, using the Beaver Meadows park entrance into Estes. The road from the Fall River entrance to Deer Ridge Junction is closed. That means Horseshoe Park, a prime foliage and elk viewing area transected by the Fall River, is not accessible.

At a press conference this morning, officials said the Olympus dam on Lake Estes is in good condition and performing as designed. All floodgates on the dam were opened yesterday, and the water level behind the dam is a bit lower today.

All the webcams in and around Estes are out of commission. Not surprising, given conditions in the area, but frustrating. Cell phones and land lines are also down. Radios are the only means of communication at this time.

Rescue and relief helicopters, which fly visually, have been unable to get to Estes because of the low cloud ceiling.

Elkhorn Avenue is Estes Park’s “Main Street.” These photos of conditions along Elkhorn this morning are from the Estes Park Facebook page. They were shot from outside Town Hall.

Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park
Flooding on Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park, Colo.
Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park

And posted by a local TV station:

Flooding on Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park, Colo.
Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park

From yesterday, this photo of a home near Fish Creek Road:

Flooding near Fish Creek Road in Estes Park, Colo.
Near Fish Creek Road in Estes Park

Some suggested news sources:

The Denver Post
Estes Park Trail Gazette
Boulder Daily Camera
Longmont Times-Call
KUSA Denver Channel 9
KMGH Denver Channel 7
KCNC Denver Channel 4
Rocky Mountain National Park
Boulder Office of Emergency Management
Town of Estes Park Facebook page
Town of Estes Park Twitter feed
Denver Post videos

What you can do to help:

Help Colorado Now

Current road closures:

Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)
CDOT Colorado Flood Highway Updates
Boulder County Office of Emergency Management
Larimer County, Colorado

37 thoughts on “Flooding in Estes Park; webcams, phones down

  1. THANKS for posting. We have heard from friends in Boulder, but not family Ft Collins/Vail area.
    We are supposed to be there next weekend. Questionable. Trying to get info – really appreciate your help.(hope the rain has stopped for you, too)

    1. I’ve had the TV on constantly since yesterday morning, and prowl the web at the same time. Nothing but flood news, yet try to find details about one particular spot! Despite my best efforts, this is about all I’ve come up with on Estes.

      At the moment, at my house in Thornton, there’s actually a bright glare coming from a blue (blue!) sky, but that could change at any time, as you know. Meantime, still a LOT of water having to go somewhere.

      1. I saw one shot on TV last night of the parking lot behind the post office. (I cut through there all the time.) The water was at least half way up the big blue mailboxes. 🙁

  2. Hi PT– never thought we would see another catastrophic flood event thru Estes and down BT Canyon, but this seems even worse, if only because so widespread. Cannot get an image in my head of enough water to close Horseshoe Park! So hard realizing the water has taken out the highways in multiple places in the Canyon as well as above & below Lyons. Guess no trip to see the aspens this year…. Have you heard from your brother? Keep watching– apparently 2 hikers have been stranded on Longs due to wx for at least a couple of days??

    1. This seems as bad as when the Lawn Lake dam broke. Probably worse, because Big Thompson didn’t flood then. Breaks my heart to see them going through this again. Yes, I’ve written off the aspen tours this fall, too. I always go up Peak-to-Peak to Estes and the park. Maybe points farther south will still be accessible.
      No word yet from brother. Going to kill him if he doesn’t give me a shout.
      Hadn’t heard about hikers on Longs. They must be so miserable.

  3. OMG! It’s horrible! Been thinking about you up there. Just looked up Thornton, so looks like you’re far enough away from the mountain runoff anyway. Have the rains been hitting this hard in the city? I was just up in Manitou Springs over labor day, and they had just cleaned up from the last flood. This is just so devastating! We’ve had some flash floods down here, but nothing compared to up there.

    1. I’m well up on a huge ridge along Colorado Blvd in north Thornton. No flood threat here from the mountain runoff. Just tons of rain for several days, from south of Denver to north of Longmont and west to Highway 7. So intense here that I’ve only heard one mention of Manitou this week.

      1. Oh, wow. Checked out that video in the comments here… it’s not just the visual, but the sound! It’s so loud and has to become overwhelming after a while.

        1. The sound impressed me too. I’ve been beside roaring mountain streams and love the sound … but this was ridiculous. Not to mention frightening. Mother Nature raging.

          1. Deafening. I’ve been glued to the weather channel for hours now. I don’t think I’ve watched this much weather or natural stuff since the tsunami. Which I saw when I was going to bed and needless to say, stayed up all night watching it come in.

  4. Thanks for posting. This is awful. I heard the U of CO was closed. I have several friends whose kids are up there. From one extreme (drought here) to another. Jeez. Hope the residents get the help they need.

    1. We’d had a record-breaking heat wave of about 6 weeks. Crops were withering in the fields. Now those same fields are flooded. Plenty of help on the way, but washed out roads are hindering traffic and cloud cover is keeping choppers out of the mountains.

  5. Have reservations next weekend in Estes. Impossible?? Are all roads in closed for the short term or have major parts washed away?

    1. Oh, Martha, how sad to suddenly have such wonderful plans up in the air. September is my favorite month to be in Estes. I honestly don’t know which if any of the roads in will be open next weekend. All I know is that Trail Ridge Road is the only road in right now. I don’t know the extent of the damage to Highways 34, 36, and 7. My suggestion would be to try to call the place where you are planning to stay. Hopefully the phone lines will be up again soon.

    2. Have reservations at Estes Park Resort next Wednesday also…..appears trip is cancelled. Unable to reach resort because of lack of phone service. Looks like trip will be next year….sorry for us , but really praying for the people going through this tragedy… Let the rain stop!

      1. Until you and Martha commented, I hadn’t given a thought to those of you who have vacation reservations up there. When I lived in Oklahoma City, I used to wait eagerly, all year, every year, for my September vacation in Estes. I had to make reservations a full year in advance to secure my favorite little cabin. I’d have been devastated if the plans fell through in the last week or two.

        I’m sure the folks in Estes want to get vacationers in there ASAP and every effort will be made to get the phone lines and at least one road open as soon as humanly possible. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. I was planning some day trips up there myself.

        1. We had reservations for Sunday at YMCA we also wait all year for our Sept. trip. Have been going to Estes for 32 yrs. We were all packed yesterday to leave this a.m. from St. Louis So sad for everyone there. Wish we could get there to help. Am glued to my computer for any updates. God bless everyone and wildlife!

    3. We also have reservations in EP next weekend. If anyone hears any news, please post. We’re flying into Denver on the 21st. If I find out anything about ours, I will post also.

... and that's my two cents