SR 20 - North Cascades Highway

Diablo Lake overlook

Diablo Lake overlook

Last Update: 12:17 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7

State Route 20 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.

SR20 North Cascades Highway reopened 9 a.m. Thursday, April 18

Week four: Monday through Thursday crews re-set concrete jersey barriers along side the highway below avalanche chutes that typically drop rocks to the shoulder during the summer, they repaired guardrail and road signs damaged by winter, cut emergency safety parking areas on the shoulders an treated the travel lanes with deicer, sand or salt as needed to provide a safe ride for vehicles and bicyclists.  Be prepared for possible winter driving conditions.

Week three: The west side crew cleared another 4 miles to MP 155 through about three feet of snow. That’s only 2 miles from Rainy Pass.

This week the east crew cleared about 4 miles, but those were the biggies - the four avalanche chutes under Liberty Bell Mountain, then Washington Pass and another mile to Blue Lake.  

East and West are only about six miles apart and should meet early in week four.  The avalanche crew went home (back to Berne Camp on Stevens Pass) as there aren't any more avalanche chutes to clear or monitor for crews working on the highway.

Most of the week, the crew worked in light snow, but no new accumulation as temperatures ran 36-37 degrees consistently.  

Week four begins with an excavator, two snow blowers, a loader and a grader on the east side.  Oh - and a chainsaw - the crew has removed danger trees daily this year.

Let's see what Monday brings!

(See the week's pictures)

Use caution this weekend.  Check the avalanche danger for the location you’re planning to visit.

North Cascades Hwy. progress map Week 3

Why we close the highway in winter
We close the North Cascades when weather, snow conditions and avalanche danger threaten the safety of drivers and our maintenance crews. Avalanches typically close the highway between late November and mid December. The highway is currently closed at milepost 134 near Diablo and at milepost 177 west of Mazama.

Reopening in the spring is usually accomplished by early May.

Current driving conditions
November 1 until it closes (usually around Thanksgiving) and when it reopens, we post the current North Cascades Pass conditions on our WSDOT mountain passes Web page as we do for all of the passes. May (spring) through October (fall), pass conditions are only posted if there's a potential travel hazard.

Avalanche areas
The North Cascades Highway closure zone has 27 avalanche chutes, some stretching more than 2,000 feet above the highway. By way of comparison, avalanche chutes at Stevens and Snoqualmie Passes are all well under 1,000 feet high.

View a detailed avalanche area map on Flickr

Web cameras

Current weather conditions
For recreation purposes and while the highway is closed, or in the summer when the pass reports are suspended, you can find weather information with these links:


SR 20 North Cascades Highway Hotline

Lauren Loebsack, Communications
North Central Region-Wenatchee

Frances Fedoriska, Communications
Northwest Region-Burlington

Sign up for spring reopening email updates for the North Cascades Highway