Hikers stranded in cave for hours during flash flooding in Canyonlands NP

Aug 24, 2022, 10:45 PM | Updated: Aug 25, 2022, 7:58 am

CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK, Utah — A group of seasoned hikers ended up seeking shelter in a cave during flash flooding at Canyonlands National Park.

Matt Castelli and his four friends started their packrafting adventure Saturday afternoon down Green River. A couple of hours into the trip, Mother Nature had different plans.

“We saw dark clouds and then lightning off in the distance. We kept checking in with each other then made the receipt to get out about a mile down,” Castelli said. “We hurried into an alcove that was a hundred feet above the river.”

He said about two minutes after they were all in the cave the floodgates started to open up.

“It was sheets of rain that would block out your vision, you know, looking more than a few hundred yards away,” Castelli said.

The group huddled up for nearly 2.5 hours waiting for the storm to pass. They said the scenery quickly changed with the heavy rain showers.

“The prettier waterfalls quickly turned brown and choked with mud,” Castelli said. “We started seeing waterfalls in places we didn’t even know there could be waterfalls.”

(Michael Heckendorn and Darius Nabors) (Michael Heckendorn and Darius Nabors) (Michael Heckendorn and Darius Nabors) (Michael Heckendorn and Darius Nabors) (Michael Heckendorn and Darius Nabors) (Michael Heckendorn and Darius Nabors) (Michael Heckendorn and Darius Nabors) (Michael Heckendorn and Darius Nabors)

Group members were grateful they had all the gear they needed to stay safe, but they said this is an experience they will surely learn from.

“We did get a weather forecast on Saturday but I think going forward we will get one in the morning and one at noon,” Castelli said.

They encourage all recreators to be prepared, even for torrential rain in the desert.

“Mother nature has a way of changing the plans and just being prepared is the best way to stay safe,” Castelli said.

The group was able to safely camp overnight and continue to hike out by Sunday.

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Hikers stranded in cave for hours during flash flooding in Canyonlands NP