SR 20 - North Cascades Highway

Diablo Lake overlook

Diablo Lake overlook

Fire activity closures

Last Update: 9:15 a.m., July 19, 2021: Closed for fire activity (east of Rainy/Washington Passes)

SR 20 between milepost 165 and 179.5 (west of Winthrop) closed at 10 a.m. Monday, July 12 for fire activites in the area.  There is no scheduled time to reopen, but this closure is likely to remain in place through the weekend.  The highway remains open from the west to milepost 170.  Check the WSDOT travel alerts page for current travel information.

Seasonal closures 

The North Cascades Highway reopened for season at 1 p.m on Wednesday,  May 5.  Many Forest Service and Park Services facilities remain closed, so travelers should plan for minimal services across the passes.  Those interested in backcountry recreation are still strongly advised to consult the Northwest Avalanche Center for current avalanche conditions. 

Clearing work started at Early Winters gate on Monday, April 5.  Follow the story of the 2021 clearing work on Flickr.

The North Cascades Highway closed for the season on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 due to heavy snowfall and risk of avalanche. 

Overview
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.

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.

Reopening in the spring is usually accomplished by early May.

Winter recreation on SR 20

Hikers, skiers, snowmobilers and other recreationalists can access the closed portion of highway during the winter season. Users should park in designated parking areas to allow plow drivers the space they need to clear snow around the closed stretch’s access gates.

WSDOT closes this stretch of highway due to avalanche risk, so anyone using this area should check forecasts and be aware of quickly changing conditions in the mountains. Travelers can also check conditions with North Cascades National Park before trips to this area.

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 along 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/fall when the pass reports are suspended, you can find weather information with these links:

Contact

Lauren Loebsack, Communications  509-860-0000 (mobile)
North Central Region-Wenatchee

 

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