Local Information

SR 20/North Cascades Highway to reopen Thursday April 18

Monday, April 15, 2019 - 15:37

Frances Fedoriska, communications, 206-440-4690, Shoreline
Jeff Adamson, Lauren Loebsack, communications, 509-667-2815, Wenatchee

Crews take less than four weeks to clear snow from highway, fastest since 2013

DIABLO – Thanks to less snow, a dedicated crew and no major setbacks, the 37 miles of State Route 20/North Cascades Highway is on track to reopen at 9 a.m. Thursday, April 18. The highway closed for the winter Nov. 28, 2018.

The clearing process

Starting on Monday, March 25, maintenance crews from the Washington State Department of Transportation worked from opposite ends of the closed section of road, completing the job three weeks earlier than last year.

WSDOT Twisp Maintenance Supervisor Don Becker, who oversees the annual reopening, said, “The crews always see the Winthrop ’49er Days as the latest date to have it open, but last year, we missed it. This year, it will not only be open well before May 10 for the festival, but for the opening of the lowland fishing season April 28 as well, which is a real plus for people who travel the highway and the businesses in both the Skagit and Methow Valleys.”

Next steps

Before the gates swing open to traffic, crews will finish removing trees and rocks that could create a danger by falling, repairing damaged pavement, guardrail and signs. They’ll also cut emergency pull-outs into the snow beside the highway, groom the shoulders and treat the travel lanes with deicer, sand or salt, providing a safe driving surface for vehicles and bicyclists.

Remember: winter conditions remain

While access to North Cascades National Park will be restored, expect to see some winter conditions on this mile-high cross-Cascade route. Plan for limited parking until snow melts, avoid stopping or parking in the travel lanes and keep a stocked emergency kit for the trip. There are no commercial facilities between Diablo and Mazama and little or no cell phone service. The WSDOT Blue Lake Safety Rest Area will remain closed. It is usually open when the highway opens, but winter damage to the utility systems will take a few weeks to repair. The National Park and US Forest Service trailheads and rest area facilities between the gates are typically not available until a few weeks after the highway is cleared.

Highway History

The North Cascade Highway opened in September 1972, connecting Skagit River Valley communities with those in the Methow Valley.

The reopening provides:

  • The furthest north route over the Cascades between western and eastern Washington.
  • Access to more miles of US Bike Route 10.
  • Access to hiking opportunities and campgrounds.

This highway is open each year until avalanche danger forces its closure for the winter, usually around Thanksgiving.

Get Our Mobile App

  • Our Android and iPhone apps include statewide traffic cameras, travel alerts, mountain pass reports, ferry schedules and alerts, northbound Canadian border wait times and more.