About 60 people were rescued from Capitol Reef National Park on Thursday after they were stranded there by flash floods that damaged or destroyed several vehicles.
No one was seriously injured, according to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. The only reported injuries were minor cuts and lacerations. Seven or eight vehicles were damaged or destroyed.
When sudden rain storms flooded the park shortly after noon, rangers tried to get to Capitol Gorge. But the road had washed out and they were “unsure” if park visitors “had made it back to their vehicles and out of the flash flooding,” according to a news release. Several rangers were among those stranded when flooding struck the Grand Wash area and they were forced to get to higher ground.
A Department of Public Safety helicopter was called in to hoist some of those who were stranded to safety in the parking area, according to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. About 60 tourists “almost had to spend the night” there, according to the sheriff’s office, but park staff “worked diligently to clear the roads, making them passable.”
Park rangers were able to shuttle tourists out of the parking area to nearby motels. The Utah Department of Transportation is working to clear the roads.
According to the sheriff’s office, the damaged vehicles will be removed from the park when conditions improve.