60 hikers, including a mom and six-month-old baby, were left stranded in Utah as flash flooding wiped out the roads and wrecked their pickup trucks
- A group of over 50 hikers at a Utah national park were left stranded last Thursday after flash flooding trapped them on a mountain
- The floods began around noon, and it took until late that night for everyone to make it out of Capitol Reef National Park safely
- A helicopter was called in to airlift some of the hikers out of the affected areas
- A park ranger said it was the worst flash flood she had seen in 15 years of working at the park
Orrin Allen, Noah Gremmert and Cooper Allen described their experience when severe flooding trapped them on a mountain during a church campout last Thursday.
The hikers were nearing the peak of the mountain when the rain began before it quickly accelerated into a flash flood.
‘We’re wandering down, we’re having a blast, we’re watching water gush off the sides of the canyon and it’s looking really cool. I’m following one of the waterfalls down with my eyes, and I was like “Oh shoot, the road’s gone,”‘ Orrin Allen told KUTV.
The hikers soon realized that the trail they arrived to the mountain on was now submerged in water. Three of the five trucks they used to get to the mountain were totaled, and two cars had been swept away by the water.
Capitol Reef National Park in Utah suffered from serious flooding last week that stranded over 50 hikers on a mountain
A picture posted by the Wayne County Sherriff’s Office shows some of the damage that floodwaters caused at Capitol Reef National Park
Along with the three young men, another 50 to 60 people were trapped on the mountain, including a mother with a six-month-old baby. After trying to wait out the storm for three hours, the group realized they needed to find a way back down.
Park rangers have said that when the flooding began at about noon, they were ‘unsure’ if park visitors had managed to make it ‘back to their vehicles and out of the flash flooding.’
Three group leaders went ahead to find a safe passage down for those trapped, and the group had to work together to ensure everyone made it out safely.
Allen said there were two ‘five to six foot drops’ the group had to navigate, and also a slim ‘4 1/2 foot’ passage between a rock wall and a steep drop-off to the raging river below.
A twitter post from Capitol Reef National Park Service announcing the flooding at the park
The group of hikers, including a mother with a six-month-old baby, formed a line to get down the mountain.
A park ranger told the group it was the worst flash flood she had seen in 15 years of working at the park.
The severity of the floods necessitated the use of a Department of Public Safety helicopter to airlift some of hikers to safety.
No one was seriously injured, according to the Wayne County Sherriff’s Office, though some hikers were treated for minor cuts and lacerations. In total, seven or eight vehicles were damaged or destroyed.
The Sherriff’s Office said that if it is wasn’t for the park rangers who ‘worked diligently to clear the roads, making them passable,’ the stranded hikers may have had to ‘spend the night there.’
On Sunday, a statement from the park said visitors should ‘expect construction equipment, large trucks, flaggers, and 15 minute delays’ from last week’s flooding.
Capitol Reef isn’t the only national park to be affected by fierce floods recently. Yellowstone National Park, one of the biggest in the country, experienced between 2.5 to 4 inches of rain in June.
The rain led to surging floodwaters that forced Yellowstone’s park officials to order over 10,000 visitors to leave on June 14. The flooding caused critical damage to the park and forced rescues by air and boat, washed away houses and swept an employee bunkhouse miles away.
Officials say the damage could cost more than $1 billion to repair and years of reconstruction efforts.