Little Cottonwood Canyon is open again after crews cleared away storm debris

(Photo courtesy of John Gleason, UDOT) Heavy machinery removes mud and rocks from the road in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.

Little Cottonwood Canyon is back in business.

Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation, tweeted at about noon Saturday that crews had reopened the popular canyon, clearing away storm debris that had blocked the roadway.

“This represents extraordinary effort once again by the same people who kept your roads safe during last winter’s heavy snowfall,” Braceras wrote.

Little Cottonwood — home to the Alta and Snowbird resorts — is a busy weekend recreation spot.

Snowbird’s hotel rooms were full Thursday night, when numerous rock and mudslides forced law enforcement to restrict all traffic in and out of Little Cottonwood Canyon, resort communications manager Brian Brown said Saturday.

The resort is accustomed to jumping into action to help people trapped in the canyon during winter snowstorms, he said, but this week’s closing was unexpected.

“We work very closely with UDOT. We know hours ahead of time the intensity of the [winter] storm and other weather factors," Brown said, “but this one, it was an incredibly rare event, so it kind of happened without much notice.”

Nonetheless, he said, resort staff responded how they would in the winter: making sure stranded people had shelter throughout the night. Then, finding places to stay for trapped staff.

The resort wasn’t open Friday because of the road closure but was back to “business as usual” Saturday, Brown said, just in time to prepare for Monday’s 2019 Tour of Utah Prologue bike race.

Aside from rocks and other debris piled near the road, Brown said, “everything is back to normal” at the resort.

Several other Wasatch Front canyons were swamped by heavy rains in recent days, triggering mudslides that blocked roads and forced some evacuations in Utah County.

With Little Cottonwood’s reopening, Braceras noted, all UDOT roads that “were closed due to recent mudslides have been reopened.”

U.S. 6 in Spanish Fork Canyon previously reopened, as did Payson Canyon.