The recent swings in temperatures and moisture took a toll on Scotts Bluff National Monument this week.
Officials closed the monument’s Saddle Rock Trail while crews removed debris from fallen limestone. The Scotts Bluff Summit Road is also closed because of rockfalls.
Superintendent Dan Morford attributed the two slides to weather. Morford said moisture freezing then melting combined with winds are a shattering combination for the monument.
“When they all come together, that seems to be when a majority of our activity happens,” he said.
Morford expected the trails to stay closed until Friday as crews work to remove the rock.
“You can still walk to Scott Springs, but the upper trail is closed,” he said.
Morford said his office was notified of the rock slides late Tuesday night. He said his crews got up Wednesday morning and confirmed that limestone splintered off. Morford said the rock slide on the Saddle Rock Trail occurred between tunnels two and three.
“It’s gonna take some time (to clear) because of the size of the material,” he said.
The Summit Road will be closed until deemed safe. Limestone broke off and covered that road as well.
When slides happen, Morford said his crew shifts gears from their day-to-day work to the limestone-removal crew. As some crew members shovel rock off trails, others keep an eye on the monument.
“We have a spotter sitting away from (the worksite) just watching up above where everybody’s working. They see something, they can holler and we can get out of the way,” he said.
Morford said he doesn’t expect the rockslides to cause any major financial issues for the park.