The North Cascades Scenic Highway (State Route 20) opened for motorized traffic at 10 a.m. on Tuesday (May 10).
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced on Monday that the highway would open after six weeks of snow-clearing efforts, after just missing having the road ready for the Winthrop ’49er Days weekend. Snow-clearing work began on March 28 this year. Last year, clearing began on April 5 and the route opened on May 5.
Week six of the 2022 spring clearing saw the west side and east side crews meeting west of the Rainy Pass summit, WSDOT said in a press release on May 6. “The last few miles were some of the slowest going, with snow depths over 6 feet, making it necessary to use an excavator to knock down the snow from above before the blower could clear the roadway,” WSDOT said in the release.
“The crews also performed necessary pavement and guardrail repair, as well as another round of avalanche control,” WSDOT said.
Many of the U.S. Forest Service and National Parks Service facilities remain closed, WSDOT noted. “Our crews clear the road and shoulder and any pullout areas needed for our maintenance work, but otherwise, it is still wintery up in the mountains,” WSDOT said. Spring and early summer avalanche potential remains. Those venturing into the backcountry should be trained and prepared, WSDOT said.