Local Information

Recreationists rejoice! Artist Point on Mount Baker cleared for early-season opening

Friday, June 7, 2019 - 07:29

Ally Barrera, communications, 206-440-4457

Final 2.7 miles of State Route 542 ready for travelers

GLACIER – The wait is over for people planning to visit one of the Pacific Northwest’s most scenic viewpoints. At 8 a.m. Sunday, June 9, Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews will open the seasonal section of State Route 542, known as the road to Artist Point.

A stretch of sunny weather and a smaller-than-usual snowpack helped crews clear the 2.7-mile section of highway in just 12 days – nearly half the time of last year’s clearing. This is the second-earliest opening date in the last 20 years.

WSDOT crews started clearing the highway on Tuesday, May 28. Crews worked 10-hour days, seven days a week and used a large snow blower and two loaders to push and blow snow off the road and the Artist Point parking lot.

People planning to visit Artist Point should prepare to encounter snow-covered trails and research current conditions before departing for the viewpoint.

Visitors and history
When the highway is open, an average of 660 vehicles a day travel to Artist Point. From there, visitors can hike, camp or take in the view. Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest says close to 40,000 people visit its Glacier Public Service Center throughout the year to get required permits and check weather conditions ahead of their outdoor adventures. Summer visitors help boost the economies of the small towns along Mount Baker Highway.

It costs about $60,000 to clear this stretch each year, depending on the amount of snow. It is usually opens between July and October. Crews will close the gate again this winter when conditions on the steep and winding highway become unsafe.

The earliest record of the Mount Baker Highway is in 1893, when it was a small wagon road that ran 25 miles from Bellingham to the town of Maple Falls. Over the next four decades, funding from the state and federal governments transformed the road into a paved highway and extended it another 22 miles to the Mount Baker Lodge. The final extension – the road to Artist Point – opened in 1931 to provide additional recreational access within the state. It cost $800,000 to build the entire highway

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