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Cottonwood Mudslides


Salida, Colorado


Date for release: Immediately

On Thursday, July 2, 2015, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a large mudslide on county road 344 at Cottonwood Lake. When sheriff’s office personnel arrived they discovered that there had been approximately 6 different slides blocking county road 344, adjacent to Cottonwood Lake. Several vehicles were trapped in between the slides, however no vehicles were caught in the slides themselves. Approximately 150 people, staying in the Cottonwood Campground, which is just above the slide area, were cutoff from exiting the area. The slides were all approximately 100 feet long and ranged from three feet in depth to over fifteen feet in depth. No damage or injuries were reported or observed.

As sheriff personnel were surveying the situation they encountered numerous large boulders falling from the steep hillside to the west of the road and mud continued to slide downhill towards the road. It was determined at that time that the area was not safe and the campground would be evacuated.

Chaffee County Road and Bridge personnel responded with two large loaders and within three hours the road was re-opened and all occupants of the campground were evacuated.
Cottonwood Campground was ordered closed and will remain so until at least Saturday July 4 and possibly later depending on weather and conditions in the area.

As all this was taking place a large creek above county road 344 and to the west began to flood. The water was running downhill and threatened a bridge on county road 344. The water had to be diverted by using heavy equipment and sandbags.

The American Red Cross was called and a shelter was set up in the Town of Buena Vista for those needing a place to stay after the campground was evacuated and closed.

The National Weather Service is predicting possible heavy rain for the area over the next several days. Sheriff personnel will monitor the situation closely for the next several days.

Those assisting with the situation were the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, Chaffee County Fire Protection District, Chaffee County EMS, and Chaffee County Search and Rescue North and South