A Thursday evening mudslide on Highway 26/89 through Snake River Canyon required a loader and plow on each end of the mess to clean it up, said Bruce Daigle, WYDOT maintenance supervisor for the Jackson district.
"The water builds up up top with heavy rain, then it just purges itself," Daigle said. "It brings down some debris."
The mud covering the road ranged from 6 inches to 2 feet deep across both lanes about a mile north of Alpine Junction. Nearby on another slope, rockfall covered the road.
UPDATE, 10:26 p.m.: Plows cleared enough mud and rock to allow one lane of traffic to begin moving, an eyewitness reported.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: A landslide of mud and rock has closed Highway 26/89 through the Snake River canyon for more than two hours Thursday night.
WYDOT sent an alert at 7:33 p.m. that said a rockslide had blocked a travel lane. Spokespeople could not be reached late Thursday evening.
Traveler Sarah O’Keefe of Tucson, Arizona, was headed north toward Jackson when she was stopped around 7:50 p.m. along with a group of cars. Via text message, she said both lanes were blocked and law enforcement officers had all traffic stopped in the hopes of plowing the detritus off the highway.
At 10:07 p.m., three plows were on the scene, she said.
"It’s basically a pile of mud and rocks, a few feet deep closest to the cliff," O'Keefe said, "narrowing down across the lanes of traffic and down to the river. The river that was once clear and green is now nice and muddy."
“Many people were talking about getting hotels for the night in Alpine,” O’Keefe said.
She and her friend are headed north to a wedding in Montana.
“Our friend’s family lives in Jackson Hole and graciously offered to put us up for the night,” O’Keefe said, “if we can get there.”
This version of the article corrects the erroneous update that the canyon was closed again Friday morning. A delayed text message from a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper to a reporter caused the error. — Ed.