homepage logo

Rockslide blocks North Ogden Divide; officials warn motorists to be alert

By Tim Vandenack - | Mar 15, 2023
1 / 2
A rockslide along the North Ogden Divide on Monday, March 13, 2023, caused the temporary closure of the roadway so the debris could be removed.
2 / 2
A rockslide along the North Ogden Divide on Monday, March 13, 2023, caused the temporary closure of the roadway so the debris could be removed.

If you’re driving the North Ogden Divide, watch for falling rocks.

Though it caused no injuries or car damage, a massive rockslide led to the temporary closure of the mountainous roadway Monday night and officials are advising motorists to maintain their guard while driving on it. A photo the Weber County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook shows what looks like a big boulder and several other massive rocks stewn across the roadway, which connects North Ogden and the Liberty area.

“Yes, there is always potential danger to the public when you have falling rocks,” said Joe Hadley, director of the Weber County Road Department. “We would not recommend bicycling or walking the North Ogden Divide this time of year for the hazardous conditions.”

Hadley suspects seepage of water from all the recent snowfall into cracks in the rocks of the mountainside above the North Ogden Divide led to the slide. As the moisture freezes and melts, it can make the cracks grow, causing chunks of mountain to loosen and fall off, a potential risk that continues.

“Huge, scary. So glad no one got hurt,” Hadley said.

Lt. Colby Ryan of the sheriff’s office also noted that the snow can loosen the soil as it melts, adding to the rockfall risk. The rocks Monday, he said, are the biggest he’s seen tumble onto the roadway in his 14 years in the office.

Rockfalls, though not necessarily as massive as Monday’s, are common this time of year, Hadley said, and county crews regularly travel the North Ogden Divide to keep it clear of rocks and debris. County road crews cleared the rocks and boulders Monday night, which resulted in the closure of the roadway from around 9 to 11 p.m.

In late 2018, a 150-pound boulder tumbled down the side of the mountain abutting State Road 158 east of the dam spillway at Pineview Reservoir, crashing through the windshield of a passing pickup and injuring the driver. That prompted the Utah Department of Transportation, which manages the road, to investigate installation of rock barriers and other steps to alleviate the risks.

“In the springtime, if you’re driving within any canyon road, just slow down, be cautious, be aware of your surroundings,” said Ryan.

As part of $3.38 million in upgrades to the North Ogden Divide in 2020 and 2022, some of the large rocks on the steep mountains overlooking the road were removed to minimize rockfall dangers. Shoulders on the inside of some roadway sections were widened and cleared to keep falling rocks from spilling onto the North Ogden Divide, though nets weren’t installed along the rocky mountainsides.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)