TOUTLE – Time is running out to catch one last up-close, panoramic view of Mount St. Helens from the higher elevations of State Route 504, also known as Spirit Lake Memorial Highway.
At dusk, on Thursday, Nov. 10, Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews will close the gate to the upper reaches of the road, at milepost 45, near Coldwater Lake.
Each fall, WSDOT coordinates the seasonal closure with the U.S. Forest Service in anticipation of hazardous winter weather. The road reopens each spring.
“The annual closure of the upper portion of the highway helps us accomplish two goals,” said WSDOT St. Helens Lead Technician Kent Palmer. “First, this stretch of highway gets a lot of rain, ice and snow and may not be safe for winter travel. Second, it gives our crews time to clear downed trees and remove debris from ditches and culverts, which helps protect the overall integrity of the roadway and minimize springtime repairs, which helps us reopen the highway sooner.”
The closure includes the portion of road that leads to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is also closed for the winter. The lower portion of SR 504 to Coldwater Lake will remain open as weather conditions allow. WSDOT will reopen all of SR 504 in the spring once the threat of significant snowfall has passed.