ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (KDVR) — Rocky Mountain National Park reported that a large rockfall occurred on Tuesday, and rangers are warning visitors to stay away from the area.
According to RMNP, at 4:30 p.m., a large rockfall happened on the south side of Hallet Peak. As a result of the fall, sliding rock fell into Upper Chaos Canyon.
Video shot by hikers in the area shows the extent of the rockfall. Large boulders can be seen tumbling down the slope tossing dirt and debris into the surrounding area.
Chaos Canyon sits southeast of the popular Bear Lake Trailhead.
Rangers are asking visitors who had planned to recreate in Upper Chaos Canyon to the south slopes of Hallet Peak to avoid traveling in the area.
According to the park, it will take time for the slope to stabilize. There is a high possibility that another rockfall could occur.
RMNP hikers witness the rockslide
Ryan Albert saw storm clouds while fly fishing at the park on Tuesday afternoon and assumed at first the sound was thunder.
“You could tell it wasn’t thunder after you heard two or three times,” Albert said.
A manager at Angles Sports Ski Board and Fly Shop in Longmont, Albert just happened to be at Lake Haiyaha at the time.
“Our first concern was: Is there anybody down below it?” Albert said.
William Mondragon was near where the rockslide happened by Chaos Canyon. He said he noticed part of the glacier melt at top of the peak.
“(It) traveled west and hit a mound of rock and dirt and sent that in our direction,” Mondragon said.
Mondragon and three friends were able to escape the rockslide. He described the feeling of escaping danger.
“I’m not sure how illicit I could be, but it reminded me of taking psychedelics. It was intense,” Mondragon said.
“It was powerful. It was very, very powerful for sure,” Albert said. “I mean, that’s a lot of earth moving at one time.”
Large rocks and boulders fell, thundering down toward the canyon.
“Some of those faces were up to 65, 70 feet tall,” Albert said.
Mondragon said there is a lesson to be learned after this rockslide.
“The mountain seems to be trying to send you a message. Maybe heed its advice,” Mondragon said.
Chaos Canyon is closed west of Lake Haiyaha due to any potential continued impacts. The hiking trails to Lake Haiyaha, the boulder areas on the north and east shores, and the lake itself are open, as are hiking trails on the north side of Hallett Peak.