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SR 20 - North Cascades Highway

Newhalem Web camera
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Avalanche Zones Map
Avalanche map

State Route 20 is the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington and is commonly referred to as the North Cascades Highway. This Scenic Byway offers travelers a wide array of beautiful vistas and is part of the Cascade Loop, a 400-mile driving tour through the Cascades. Take a virtual drive on the highway from your computer.

Pass status: Closed for the season
UPDATE: Feb. 20, 2015

The North Cascades Highway remains closed for the season to licensed motor vehicles from milepost 134, the Diablo Gate, in the west and milepost 171, the Silver Star Gate, in the east.

The west end of the closed section of SR 20, from the Diablo Gate to milepost 143, is also closed to hiking and winter recreation activities. Crews continue to secure a slope that caused a large landslide onto the highway in early December. Crews removed the slide debris in January. Now they are securing the slope with rock bolts, which will allow for a timely highway opening in spring 2015.

To determine how soon crews can begin clearing snow from the highway, the tentative plan is for the Avalanche Crew to make its assessment trip on March 10. Typically, the work starts in late March or early April and takes as few as four or as many as eight weeks to complete, depending on conditions.

A cursory look by a team repairing the weather station at Washington Pass the week of Feb. 16 showed fewer than normal slides in the Cutthroat zone, big slides under Liberty Bell and a fairly typical eight feet of snow on the pavement at Washington Pass. Current forecasts say there are still several weeks of snow coming despite the below average snowfall during the past month.

Why we close the highway in winter:
We close the North Cascades when weather, snow conditions and avalanche danger threaten the safety of drivers and our maintenance crews. We close the highway on the west side at milepost 134, east of Diablo, and on the east side at milepost 171, 14 miles west of Mazama. As the snow gets too deep for the plow truck, the east closure point is moved 7 miles down to the Early Winters Information Center at milepost 178. Avalanches typically close the highway between late November and mid December.
Reopening in the spring is usually accomplished by early May.

Current driving conditions:
Between April and November when the road is typically open, we post the current North Cascades Pass report on our WSDOT mountain passes Web page as we do for all of the passes. May through October, pass conditions are only posted if there's a potential travel hazard.

Current weather conditions:
For recreation purposes and while the highway is closed, or in the summer when the pass reports are suspended, you can find weather information with these links:

Contacts for more information

Jeff Adamson, Communications
North Central Region-Wenatchee

Tom Pearce, Communications
Northwest Region-Shoreline

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