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Little Cottonwood Canyon reopens after rock slides

Published July 5, 2013 9:44 pm

Weather • Campers, Snowbird guests trapped until crews are able to clear debris from road.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Members of a Lindon family who spent Independence Day camping in Little Cottonwood Canyon found themselves caught in a torrent of water early Friday morning, and then they discovered they were trapped in the canyon by rock slides.

Clint and Camille Allred, along with their 16-year-old son Kyle, were spending the night at Tanners Flat campground when they felt their tent pushed around by a sudden stream of water about 2:30 a.m. The campground lies about 8 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon, but when the family packed up and tried to leave they discovered that rock slides had covered the road. Trapped, they called authorities.

Crews were on scene and clearing the debris by about 3:30 a.m., and authorities eventually closed the road at the mouth of the canyon and at Snowbird.

The canyon was reopened by 3 p.m., but motorists were warned to expect delays.

Salt Lake Unified Police spokesman Justin Hoyal attributed the slides to two nights of heavy rainfall and said they occurred just down-canyon from Snowbird and completely blocked the road.

The National Weather Service on Friday reported there was 1.47 inches of rainfall overnight at Alta, which is up-canyon from the rock slide, and .92 of an inch of precipitation at Cottonwood Heights, near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Heavy machinery, including snowplows, worked into the afternoon to clear the debris.

Meanwhile, the Allreds, other campers and guests at Snowbird were all stuck in the canyon.

Emily Moench, a spokeswoman for Snowbird, said that resort employees who live in the canyon took care of guests Friday morning. Moench did not immediately know how many people were staying at the resort, but said a conference went forward without interruption.

Moench also said the resort served guests breakfast and lunch on Friday. A crew of critical resort employees were transported through the slide area late in the morning.

The slides did not cause any injuries, but Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Adan Carrillo said they did cause some road damage. He estimated the total cost of the clean up and repairs to be about $80,000.

Hoyal also said there were other rock slides in Big Cottonwood and Millcreek canyons. Those canyons remained open Friday morning, but Hoyal advised visitors to exercise caution in the area.

jdalrymple@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jimmycdii