Landslide leads to 'catastrophic failure' of popular Wyoming mountain pass highway

Teton Pass connects Jackson, Wyoming, with Victor, Idaho. Without the roadway, drivers now face a detour, which can take more than an hour to complete.

JACKSON, Wyo. – The "catastrophic failure" of a Wyoming highway outside of Jackson will require travelers to add at least an hour to their drive time while transportation officials devise a clean-up and repair plan.

On Saturday morning, the Wyoming Department of Transportation said a landslide devoured part of State Highway 22, which connects the resort region with communities around Victor, Idaho.

"We understand this highway is a lifeline for commuters, deliveries, medical care access and tourism, especially with limited alternatives and the summer season upon us. WYDOT engineers, surveyors and geologists mobilized quickly to try to maintain highway viability as long as possible, but catastrophic failure could not be avoided," WYDOT said on Saturday.

No one was on the roadway due to a previous mudslide that shut down the thoroughfare, and no construction crews were reported to have been injured during the event.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon issued an emergency declaration on Saturday after the section of Highway 22 collapsed.

Gordon said WYDOT engineers and geologists are developing a long-term plan to rebuild the roadway, but there is no estimated time for reopening. 

"We're looking at any option we have to try to reroute. As I say, this is the main route from Idaho over to Jackson. There is a way around, but it's about an hour, an hour and a half. A lot of the workforce in Jackson works (and) lives in Idaho … so this is a real inconvenience," Gordon told FOX Weather. "I do believe that we are working as aggressively as we can to try to resolve the issues in a timely fashion."

Photos showed the landslide took out both travel lanes at its widest point, and transportation officials have not stated how long they anticipate the roadway will be closed.


National Weather Service meteorologists said spring rainfall and significant snowmelt are to blame for river flooding and landslides throughout the region.

Temperatures of 10-20 degrees above average have caused the ice and snow to rapidly melt, filling rivers and drainage tributaries.

"It's very common to have high-level snow still, and now that the upper levels are seeing the warmup, it's melting, which will continue through the summer," an NWS meteorologist stated.

Despite the problems along the Teton Pass, nearby rivers such as the Snake, Teton and Wind were only expected to approach minor flood status. However, the NWS warned that water level rises can be unpredictable because of the melting of the snow.


Without a direct thoroughfare in the Teton Pass, a trip that used to take around 35 minutes is now expected to take at least 1 hour and 35 minutes, and that is without any obstructions along the detour. An Idaho resident said because of home prices and the cost of living in Jackson, many workers live in the Teton Valley and commute – a trip now that has more than doubled in time to complete.

The route closure also impacts summer travelers heading to two popular destinations, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Gordon said there are still alternative routes and people should still plan to visit Wyoming.

"People shouldn't change their plans just because of this. It's important to know that we are addressing it. Maybe a little bit of a delay, but the summer is up and running, and it's a great time to come to Wyoming," Gordon said.

WYDOT advised travelers to sign up for updates from 511 Notify for the latest road conditions and closures.