Massive Rocks Fall Into Wind River Canyon . . . Again

Massive Rocks Fall Into Wind River Canyon . . . Again

Written by on March 9, 2021

It’s not spring in the Bighorn Basin until massive boulders fall into the Wind River Canyon outside Thermopolis, but the largest rock stayed off the highway.

WYDOT reports another cascade of rocks has fallen into the Wind River Canyon. This is a common occurrence in the canyon, especially during the spring.

As the winter snow melts in the Wind River Mountains, the ground becomes wet and slick. This often sends rocks of varying sizes into the canyon below.

At 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, several small rocks and a boulder the size of a pickup truck fell into the canyon. There were no injuries or accidents associated with the fall.

Wind River Canyon boulder at 4 a.m.

Courtesy WYDOT

The exact location of the fallen rocks is Milepost 122.7 between Thermopolis and Shoshoni. Thankfully, the largest boulder landed right at the edge of US 20/WY 789 rather than on it.

Rockslides in the Wind River Canyon are common but can easily be more destructive. A rockfall in 2017 was large enough to temporarily close the canyon as WYDOT removed a lane-blocking boulder.

Had this boulder landed on the road, it would have closed the canyon – it’s easily large enough to block an entire lane of traffic.

WYDOT personnel moved the smaller rocks off the road, but the boulder is staying put for now.

WYDOT will break up and remove the massive rock next week with the assistance of a private contractor.

There are no traffic slowdowns or altered traffic patterns associated with the rockfall. That may change when WYDOT returns to break down the boulder.

Cody Beers, WYDOT Public Relations Specialist, sent a message to the fishermen who frequent the canyon for its world-class angling.

“If you’re fishing inside Wind River Canyon, think about where you park,” Beers says. “As the frost leaves the ground, rocks are moving downhill.”

Drivers on the highway are also asked to not slow down or pull off the road to view the damage. This complicates the efforts to remove the rock and restore traffic.

Check WYDOT’s Wyoming Travel Information Map for the latest updates on US 20/WY 789 and other Wyoming roads.

Wind River Canyon boulder (3-9-21)

Courtesy WYDOT

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