Debris and snow is completely covering a portion of the highway in Santaquin Canyon following an avalanche Sunday night.

The slide appears to be as much as 15 feet deep and 100 yards long, said Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Santaquin Canyon, like many of the canyons in the area, is closed via a Forest Service gate at the bottom of the canyon seasonally. Normally, the gate is opened once snow has cleared enough for it to be safe — typically somewhere around Memorial Day. The avalanche happened approximately five miles beyond that gate, Cannon said.

Loyal Clark, the public information officer for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said there have actually been two debris slides in the area, and the slide Sunday night piled on top of the first avalanche that happened earlier in the year.

The snow and debris flowed out of an avalanche chute, Clark said, in an area extremely prone to avalanches.

A team of forest service engineers were on their way to assess road damage Monday morning, Clark said. Once that assessment is complete, the Forest Service will be able to better determine the canyon’s opening date.

“The opening date will be delayed,” Clark said. “And we do not have a determination date for that.”

Clark said no one was in the canyon at the time of the slide, and no one was injured.

Both Cannon and Clark discourage members of the public from hiking up to the area to see the slide. The surface is unstable, Cannon said, and the material could start to move again.

“That is an extreme hazard,” Clark said.

Katie England covers local government, the environment and southern Utah County for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2599 or kengland@heraldextra.com.

Katie England covers politics, county government and southern Utah County for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2599 or kengland@heraldextra.com.

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