Big Thompson Canyon

Original Post
Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 140

Hey all,

This placed was washed out in The Flood of the century a few years ago. Is it open again?


Mathias · · Loveland, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 290

Hey Russ. It's still closed.

They say it'll be open again around Memorial Day. I hope so!

J. Albers · · Colorado · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 1,793

Depends on what you want to climb. For e.g., if you want to climb at Mary's Bust, that is no problem if you just come in from Estes. The closure is really just a small section of the canyon, so chances are you can still climb what you like and you just need to approach accordingly.

Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 585

There will be closures in different spots along 34 between October and May for the next few years as the work proceeds along the canyon. This will result in the road being closed either below Drake or between Drake and Estes.

John Tex · · Estes · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 25

Why do people call this the flood of the century? The flood of 76, known as the Big Thompson Flood, was much worse. Killed over 140 and was nearly the same amount of rain in 6 hours compared to 5 days.

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 140

"From the afternoon of September 9 through midday on September 13 [2013], 14.62 inches of rain had fallen in Boulder, Colo. This included an incredible 9.08 inches of rain on September 12, alone!

According to the Western Regional Climate Center, the previous all-time record rainfall for any calendar day in Boulder was a 4.80 inch deluge on July 31, 1919., in records dating to 1893. September 12th's total almost doubled the previous record wet day."

Petroclimbsagain · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 0


The Flood of the Century wiped out nearly every canyon from Colorado Springs to Ft. Collins.

The BT flood flooded one-canyon, Big Whoop...

and the only reason so-many people died is because they hadn't seen the surge in brown-water kayaking yet.

Nick Thomas · · Fargo, ND · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 30

1976 and 2013 are in different centuries.

John Tex · · Estes · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 25

I guess I should clarify on the specific area. I thought we were talking on the Estes region. Having been in both Estes and boulder during the flood, the boulder flood was nothing in comparison. Yeah some basements got flooded but in Estes the highways were gone.

In Estes Park during 1976, 13 inches of rain fell in 4 hours. It was the deadliest flash flood in Colorado history. The recent flooding in boulder and Estes was dwarfed by that one. It took nearly 5 days for that amount of rain to fall in Estes that time.

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 140

"Big Thompson Canyon Flood (July 31, 1976): A lone thunderstorm dumped 12 inches of rain in 4.5 hours above the Big Thompson Canyon; $35.5 million damage; 139 killed"

[same article]

^^ so actually John Tex is right! More rain in one day in '76. Just not as widespread.

John Tex · · Estes · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 25

Fair enough nick.

John Tex · · Estes · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 25

If accurate, this actually has a great comparison of the two. I'd just copy the good stuff but I'm on my phone. Maybe someone else could. It's under the historical flooding section. Kinda makes everyone's argument.

KevinCO · · Loveland, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 60

The property damage was greater in 2013 because the amount of rain west of Estes was not anticipated. The gates at the Estes Park dam had to be opened wider on short notice, adding a huge amount of flood water to the already flooding river.

I grew up close to the river bottom west of Loveland. There was an old gravel pit pond that I spent a lot of time, even building a log raft for fishing. During the 76 flood, the pond was not touched. The 13 flood erased the pond. I watched the river rapidly carving it away.

One of my friends house was not only lost completely, but even the land the house was on is gone.

Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 585

All I know is a lot of buildings in Glen Haven that withstood the 76 flood got wiped out in the 2013 flood.

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 140

So basically, all the climbing areas are open, it's just a matter of whether the road conditions and/or closures will make it possible to get there. It's not as if there is a single gate/entrance with a "closed" sign on it.

Also I gather- Access is better from the Estes Park side.

James Kersey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 83

You got it. The closure starts before Round Mountain from the Loveland side, so you basically can't get anywhere that way

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
Nick Thomas wrote:1976 and 2013 are in different centuries.
lol nailed it.

If you look at the flood pictures from 76 it's incredible some of the damage.
Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 585

Just saw this today. CDOT proposes to have one more canyon closure from Oct 2017 to May 2018 and finish the project by the end of 2018. This is about 2 years ahead of the original estimate.

Tokenhein Tokenhein · · Monaco · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Hi. The place is not completly close but it's not the best place for the moment. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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