Garfield County Sheriff's crews rescued 21 people from the Flat Tops just before midnights on Aug. 6, 2021. The Greyhound bus they were riding got stuck on a gravel road after a hole was ripped in its oil pan. The road is used to access wilderness areas in the White River National Forest. (Garfield County Sheriff)

DOTSERO — Authorities are warning drivers not to try to find shortcuts to avoid the lengthy detours around a prolonged closure of Interstate 70 in western Colorado after about 20 people had to be rescued from a bus that got stuck on an unpaved forest road.

The Greyhound bus had trouble navigating the road generally used by four-wheel-drive vehicles Friday, ripping a hole in the engine’s oil pan and causing a leak, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported the bus became stuck around 6 p.m. Friday about 22.5 miles up Coffee Pot Springs Road, an unpaved high-mountain road accessible north of Dotsero. There were 21 people on board including at least one female with heart conditions, a sheriff’s news release said.

The dirt and gravel road is used to access wilderness areas in the White River National Forest. It is “generally traveled by four-wheel drive and all-terrain vehicles and is not an alternative route around Glenwood Canyon,” the sheriff’s office said.

The woman with heart problems was rescued first. Around 11 p.m., the other passengers, the driver and luggage were brought down to Eagle County in other vehicles, the sheriff’s office said. A rainstorm threatened to interrupt the rescue but it passed to the north, it said.

I-70 through nearby Glenwood Canyon is shut down because of damage by mudslides triggered by rain over an area burned by the Grizzly Creek fire last year.

“Catastrophe was avoided this time. Travelers are advised not to follow GPS mapping in an attempt to circumvent the I-70 closure through Glenwood Canyon. Backcountry roads are unpredictable and can be treacherous or deadly for the unprepared traveler,” the office said.

In a statement Saturday, Greyhound said it was investigating the “rerouting incident,” the Post Independent reported.

The Colorado Department of Transportation suggests two alternate routes around the highway closure. One runs to the north, to U.S. 40 through Craig and Steamboat Springs and the other to the south on U.S. 50, through Montrose and Gunnison. Both add about 2.5 hours of time to the travel. The state also is advising trucks hauling freight to use Interstate 80 rather than I-70.

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