Local Information

Another mountain route for cyclists, drivers: SR 20 North Cascades Highway is open for 2018

Friday, May 11, 2018 - 10:04

Andrea E. Petrich, communications, 360-757-5963, Burlington
Jeff Adamson, communications, 509-669-8778, Wenatchee

DIABLO – With the creak of metal and a push from longtime opening day attendees, the gates on the seasonal stretch of North Cascade Highway/State Route 20 opened for the season today.

This highway opening provides:

  • Another route between eastern and western Washington for people who drive.
  • An opportunity for people on bikes to ride more miles of US Bike Route 10.
  • Access to additional hiking and camping options for outdoor enthusiasts.

The clearing process
The seven-week clearing process began on Monday, March 26. This week, Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews and avalanche technicians completed controlled snow slides to clear chutes above the road, repaired and replaced guardrail and pavement, and cleared ditches of debris to channel water from melting snow.

Mountain conditions remain
While the road is open, there are still signs of winter along the highway. Those planning hiking, camping or snow activity outings should prepare for limited parking until snow melts and avoid stopping or parking in the travel lanes.

For safety, people driving and cycling should obey highway signs and avoid stopping below these snow slide areas, such as under Liberty Bell Mountain, east of Washington Pass. There are limited facilities between Diablo and Mazama, so travelers should be prepared with a stocked emergency kit for the trip.

Highway History
The North Cascades Highway officially opened in September 1972. The 37-mile route through the Cascade Range travels through Whatcom, Skagit, Chelan and Okanogan counties connecting communities in western Washington’s Skagit River Valley with the Methow Valley in eastern Washington.

Seasonal opening
WSDOT crews will keep the North Cascades Highway open as long as it is safe to do so. The gates will close at mileposts 134 and 171 when snow starts filling up avalanche chutes, making it unsafe for travelers and crews to be on the road. That usually happens around Thanksgiving.

Plan ahead for SR 20 construction
There are highway construction projects happening in 2018 on SR 20 that cyclists and drivers should know about before starting trips.

Travelers can check current construction and blocking incident closures on our state travel alerts page, by downloading the WSDOT app to your smartphone or by using our 511 hands free phone system.

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