Rocky Mountain National Park Cautions Visitors, Closes Upper Chaos Canyon Following Rock Slide

by Amy Myers

Rocky Mountain National Park’s Upper Chaos Canyon has just seen a significant rockfall event, and the park wants to ensure that visitors exercise safety while exploring the area.

On Tuesday, at roughly 4:30 p.m. local time, the debris began to collect, quickly spilling down the south side of Hallett Peak and turning into a full-force rockslide. This is a particularly popular spot for bouldering and rock climbing. Thankfully, there were no victims or injuries from the incident. However, Rocky Mountain National Park warns that the area will remain in a delicate state for the next few days.

“Visitors planning to recreate in Upper Chaos Canyon or on the south slopes of Hallett Peak are advised to avoid traveling in the area,” the park stated in a post on Instagram. “It will take some time for the slope to stabilize and there is a significant possibility that additional rockfall may occur at any time.  #RecreateResponsibly – Your safety is your responsibility.”

Check out the video of the rockslide that a couple of climbers caught.

Rocky Mountain National Park Closes Chaos Canyon West of Lake Haiyaha

Rockslides typically occur because the surrounding ground becomes soft with precipitation of some kind. This causes the ground to shift and the rocks and boulders to topple. It’s unclear whether the area has seen any significant weather within the past week. However, should there be any more disturbances near the site, there will likely be more rockslides to come.

That’s why Rocky Mountain National Park has now closed all parts of Chaos Canyon west of Lake Haiyaha. This is in response to forecasts indicating additional precipitation in the coming days as well as continued rockfall activity.

The park informed in a separate post, “rainstorms are in the forecast for this area through July 3, which may contribute to additional rockfall activity. This closure will remain in effect until the projected rainstorms pass and the slope can be evaluated by NPS geologists.”

“The hiking trail to Lake Haiyaha, Lake Haiyaha itself, and hiking trails on the north side of Hallett Peak remain open,” the park continued. “The bouldering area in lower Chaos Canyon, on the north and east shore of the Lake Haiyaha, will remain open.”

Along with the update, Rocky Mountain National Park also posted a new photo of the rockslide area. The image depicted Upper Chaos Canyon following the rockfall activity on Tuesday, noting the deteriorated face of Hallett Peak. The park also included a map of the closure, extending north of Otis Peak all the way down to Lake Haiyaha.

Climbers and hikers should keep their distance from the area until the national park clears it of significant rockfall activity.