Mt. Scott Roadway Closed Due to Structural Damage

A recent rainstorm uncovered structural damage along the Mt. Scott roadway.

The Mt. Scott Roadway on Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has re-opened to bicycle and pedestrian traffic, but remains closed to all vehicle traffic. Recent heavy rains have eroded parts of the foundation of the road making it unstable for the consistent weight of vehicles.

Since the construction of the roadway in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration, Mt. Scott has long been a central feature of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. This 3-mile stretch of mountain road has significant use by the public. The roadway was designed and constructed to allow water to flow along natural pathways. Over time, heavy rainfall has shifted and reshaped some of these channels leading to heavy undercutting. In locations, this undercutting is as much as three feet under the roadway.

“Refuge staff have been diligently working to document the full scope of the damage including mapping all the undercuts and eroded sections,” stated Acting Refuge Manager David Farmer. “They were even working on Mt. Scott during the last rainstorm documenting the flow of water and looking for issues that we cannot see during a normal inspection. We understand the public’s frustration with the closure, but visitor safety is our number one priority. We ask that everyone be patient as we work through this issue.”

Upon completion of the inspections and review by professional engineers, it has been determined the road is currently not safe for vehicular use. However, the roadway is now open and safe for bicycle and pedestrian use. Hikers and bicyclists will temporarily have full day use of the roadway. Visitors should still be cognizant of the group size restriction for Mt. Scott. The need may also arise for a more expansive closure to the Mt. Scott area once road repairs are underway.

Though Mt. Scott remains closed to vehicles, there are plenty of other locations to explore within the Refuge. Visitors can still view bison, longhorn, elk, and deer along State Highways 49 and 115. The prairie dog towns are still fully accessible. Visitors looking to hike might consider exploring alternative trails like Dog Run Hollow, Little Baldy, or the Narrows. As always, Refuge staff and volunteers are available at the Visitor Center (located near the intersection of Highway 49 and Highway 115) from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily and can provide further alternative suggestions.

Information about the closure can be found by contacting the Visitor Center at 580-429-2197, or by following the Refuge on Facebook.