Rock Slide Update

We told you on Monday about the massive rock slide that has closed Interstate 40 near the North Carolina / Tennessee border.  (Note – All photos are from the Asheville Citizen-Times).  Just a few weeks ago, we shared our pictures of driving through the gorge coming home from the Siberian Husky Club of America National Specialty.


Aerial view of the slide area – Pigeon River Gorge


You can see how big the boulders are next to the truck in the right lane


Serious boulders


Blocked Road

The first problem to be solved was how to get equipment to the top of the slide (for obvious safety reasons, you can’t start at the bottom of the pile).  Building a road to the top is a possibility, but long, expensive and buried in red tape since all roads in a National Forest require a environmental study.  Helicopters could lift equipment to the top as well, but that still is a very complex way to do it.  They have settled on an approach to hoist equipment to the top.  You can read the details here.  Best guess at the moment is that the road will be closed for three months.

Sadly, we are used to this in the area.  I-40 itself has been closed several times since it was opened in 1968.  July 1997, a rock slide closed the interstate for 2 months and one in March 1985 closed the interstate for almost 3 weeks.  We also had the interstate closed for a period in 2004 when the road bed underneath collapsed into the Pigeon River during the hurricanes of that summer.

This stretch of highway is very isolated with only a few exits that connect into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Pisgah National Forest, or the handful of private homes in the area.  Detours are complex and somewhat lengthy, though we do now have “Future” I-26 open to the north of Asheville creating an interstate option.  But that still adds an hour to an east-west trip.

As we mentioned Monday, this entire area depends heavily on tourism for its economy.  The Leaf season is almost complete (this will be probably be the last big weekend) and Ghost Town in the Sky closes after this weekend, but ski season should start very soon.  Cataloochee Ski almost opened last week, but delayed because of our warm temperatures.  These two are my neighbors (along with Cataloochee Ranch, which I have mentioned many times on the blog), so I pay special attention to them, but we are really hoping for the best for all of the tourist attractions in our area during the important Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday stretches.

If you are in our part of the country, please come visit this winter.  We really appreciate the support!

And, by the way, we might be very comfortable around the rocks, but we want to be clear.  The Herd did not cause this one!


Not the Red Team


Not the Black and White Team


  1. Larry LAWRENCE on January 11, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    Is it possible to use or purchase the necessary permissions to use one of your photographs for use as a book cover?

    • The Thundering Herd on January 11, 2021 at 12:59 pm

      We can certainly discuss if you identify which photograph. However, note that most of the photos in this post belong to the Asheville Citizen-Times. We don’t own those rights.

  2. Steve & Kat on November 1, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Maybe you can go walking down I-40. Don’t you walk down roads when they close?


  3. Wild Dingo on October 31, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Maybe the Herd can help put the rocks back! after all, they’re “working” dogs. lol! i can just see Natasha in an orange vest, vexing…

  4. NCMountainwoman on October 28, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    The news gets worse with every passing day, doesn’t it? Tell the Herd I never thought for a minute they were responsible. Such innocent faces!

  5. Stella on October 28, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Blame on the rockslide:

    Doest thou protest too much doggies?



  6. MAXDOG on October 28, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks for an informative and very teresting blogpost! It is wonderful to be able to see what is happening in other far off places via the internet. These geological occurences can be quite restricting, but they remind us of the greater forces around us. Your rock fall reminds me a lot of the rock falls which were happening around our Cape Peninsula – particularly around “Chapmans Peak” (If you google it, you should find it). Well that is one of the prime tourist sites of the Cape and it was closed for about 18 months. I am always amazed at these types of occurences…it really reminds me of our place (as humans) in the greater scheme of things. Thank you so much for sharing that!
    Keep warm, happy and most of all…safe!
    Max’s mom in SA

  7. Mochi on October 28, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Wow, that is scary! Thanks for sharing the story.

    Great pics of the herd! We know you didn’t cause it! 🙂


  8. the Army of Four on October 28, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Those pictures are incredible. And the ones of the rock slide aren’t bad, either. Ha roo roo roo!
    We’ll rest easier once we know our grandma and her friend are back in VA!
    Play bows,

  9. Denns the Vizsla on October 28, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Ooooh, was it the Blue Team? It was the Blue Team wasn’t it?

    We vacationed in Asheville about ten years ago and almost ended up moving there!

  10. KB on October 28, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Wow, that is one heck of a slide. I drive a steep-walled canyon road regularly – it’s our connection to town. If it were closed for 3 months, whew – I don’t even want to think about it. I’m so relieved that the herd didn’t cause it. I was worrying…

  11. The OP Pack on October 28, 2009 at 7:53 am

    That is one massive rockslide. Too bad about all the inconvenience and impact of businesses it causes. Thanks for sharing the story and pics. Hope the cleanup goes smoothly and safely for all.

    Woos, the OP Pack

  12. Khyra on October 28, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Just think of all the flashie beastie opps!!!

    SERIOUSLY, it will be khwite the endeavour to khlear the slide AND make the interstate safe again –

    We saw it on the NBC Nightly News the day you shared it here –

    Woo skhooped ’em fur us!

    PeeEssWoo: Mom doesn’t stop babbling when others go by – sometimes she’ll even admit why she’s doing what she’s doing!

  13. Huffle Mawson on October 28, 2009 at 3:33 am

    Whoa. Those are some big rocks. I am glad the SRV was not injured!

    Huffle Mawson

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