North Cascades Highway (SR-20), WA Opens Today

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north cascades highway, open,
Credit: WSDOT

The SR 20 North Cascades Highway will reopen after its winter hibernation at 1 pm today, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The gates east of Newhalem and west of Mazama will open, allowing travel between the Skagit and Methow valleys.

The 37-mile long pass closes every year in late November or early December based on snow conditions. Dozens of avalanche paths cross the highway, making it too dangerous to keep the highway open through the winter. In 2020, the North Cascades closed on Nov. 13. Our maintenance and avalanche control crews assess snow levels and avalanche conditions in early spring to determine a date to begin reopening work.

This year’s snow levels were slightly higher than average and the Liberty Bell avalanche chutes held a substantial amount of snow. This year crews began work on April 5th, 2021. Last year the pass opened on May 12th, 2020.

Ring the bells and honk the horns, the SR 20 North Cascades Highway will reopen after its winter hibernation at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 5! Our crews are finishing final repairs and avalanche control work before we open the gates east of Newhalem and west of Mazama.

It took them a little over four weeks to clear the highway, which closes every winter due to avalanche danger and heavy snowfall. We know traditionally people like to gather at the closure gates to be among the first to drive one of our most scenic highways. If you plan to be among them, please follow safety guidelines including wearing a mask when among people outside your immediate family and avoiding gathering in large groups.

We want everyone to enjoy the gates opening safely. And we extend a HUGE thanks to our crews who put in so much work to open up this important connection between the Skagit and Methow valleys.

State Route 20, linking eastern and western Washington state, traverses Washington Pass and Rainy Pass over the Cascades peaks connecting the Skagit Valley with the Methow Valley. It 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.

north cascades highway
North Cascades Highway, WA

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