Cottonwood Pass opens May 25

Kebler needs a little more time

By Katherine Nettles 

Barring any major weather events or mechanical failures, Cottonwood Pass will reopen to vehicular traffic for the summer season this Thursday, May 25. Gunnison County Public Works crews have been working to get both Cottonwood and Kebler Passes open for Memorial Day weekend, however Public Works director Martin Schmidt said this week that clearing Kebler will probably require more time after an unusually large snowpack this spring and some associated setbacks. 

The gates for Cottonwood are scheduled to open Thursday afteroon, after the third Annual Cottonwood Classic event allows some two-wheeled recreationalists to take a first spin on the pavement from 9 a.m. Thursday morning until 1:30 p.m. that afternoon. The Cottonwood Classic is a closed-route bike ride to the summit of Cottonwood and back down to the starting gate at the base of the pass. The event is held by Gunnison Nordic as a major annual fundraiser. The ride is open to all wheeled, non-motorized cycles. According to Gunnison Nordic, e-bikes, handcycles and mountain bikes are welcome. The pass should open to vehicular traffic after the ride at 4 p.m. Wet and icy spring conditions should be expected.

As for Kebler, Schmidt said the outlook is not good for this weekend. “We have plowed to Horse Ranch Park but have another washout issue that is just being assessed.”  There was also a pipe washout on Kebler between the Iron Fen and Splain’s Gulch last week. “We were able to replace the 36 inch culvert within about 30 hours and re-open the road,” reported Schmidt. “Our crews are incredible.”

Between heavy snow at the forks, the pipe failure and repair last week, the cool/overcast weekend, potential unknown damage under the snow, and the road needing to dry, said Schmidt, “there are a lot of variables to consider.” He said Kebler is likely to open by the end of next week, in early June.

Up-to-date openings/closures can be found online at cotrip.org.

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