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Every bridge has been washed away in Castlewood Canyon State Park due to recent heavy rainfall

Castlewood Canyon State Park flooding and bridges damaged
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 27, 2023

FRANKTOWN, Colo. — Heavy rainfall has destroyed every bridge crossing over Cherry Creek in Castlewood Canyon State Park, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Cherry Creek is currently about two feet above normal levels in the park. More than 14 inches of rain has fallen over Castlewood Canyon since Jan. 1, according to the National Weather Service.

On June 22, the high level mark was 9.5 feet. Normal creek levels are typically between 2 to 3 feet.

Castlewood Canyon State Park flooding
Only stairs remain from a bridge washed away by heavy rainfall and high creek flows at Castlewood Canyon State Park.

Castlewood Canyon State Park Manager Brent Lounsbury said two events led to this flooding: about 36 hours of rain in May and a short-term, high-intensity storm on June 21. It was the latter storm that put the water line at 9.5 feet, he said.

He said he has never seen flooding like this in the park in his 8.5 years working there. It was strong enough to break one bridge and carry it about half a mile downstream.

CPW is warning visitors that there is no way to cross the creek within the park as of Tuesday afternoon. All hikes should be planned as an out-and-back route.

Knowing that summer is peak season in the park, staff are hoping to open a couple of the looped hikes within a couple weeks, Lounsbury said. But crews must wait for the water levels to recede before making any repairs. CPW said restoring the bridges will take weeks and may not be completed before August.

The repairs come with a unique challenge. Because the state park is a canyon, it's impossible to bring machinery down to the water.

"There's no bringing a pickup truck down here or an ATV or anything," Lounsbury said. "So, everything has to be done by hands and on foot.”

In addition to the bridges, Creek Bottom Trail was also significantly damaged by the flooding. There is standing water on Creek Bottom south of the waterfall.

But there are some positives to the excessive water. Lounsbury said the park's waterfalls are particularly impressive and the landscape is extra green.

The state park offers trails of various lengths, welcoming visitors to take a short stroll or a longer hike around the park. Bicyclists, bird-watchers and hikers (plus their leashed dogs) can enjoy the trails.

To learn more about this park, click here.

Denver 7+ Colorado News Latest Headlines | June 27, 4pm

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