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News / Northwest

North Cascades Highway reopens

Snow-clearing work started on March 25

By Robert Mittendorf, The Bellingham Herald
Published: April 18, 2024, 8:45pm

BELLINGHAM — You’ll be able to get your dose of Eastern Washington sunshine this weekend, when the North Cascades Highway opens this morning after its winter closure.

Scenic Highway 20 connects Whatcom and Skagit counties with the Okanogan County destination towns of Winthrop and Twisp, along with hiking and other recreational opportunities in North Cascades National Park.

It’s the northernmost highway that crosses the Cascades Mountains in Washington.

Because of avalanche danger from the high slopes of Washington Pass and Rainy Pass, the highway is closed in late fall near Diablo on the west side and Mazama on the east side.

Opening time is 10 a.m. today, the state Department of Transportation wrote in an email.

Clearing efforts began this year on March 25. It typically takes four to six weeks with crews using heavy equipment such as bulldozers, excavators and massive snow blowers to clear snow 8 feet deep or more.

After the snow is cleared, WSDOT crews usually have to repair guardrails, patch potholes and fix places where the road washed out.

Weather at the passes could still mean snowy and freezing weather, WSDOT wrote on its social media. Crews will clear and treat the highway as needed, but travelers should be watch the weather forecasts and prepared for changing conditions.