Every winter the Washington State Department of Transportation closes the SR 20 North Cascades Highway due to avalanche risk, but the area remains open to skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoers to enjoy seasonal adventures at their own risk.
This winter, the DOT announced in an attempt to conserve budget funds they will close four more miles of highway, which means four more miles for winter activities. When the DOT closes the highway this winter, typically when heavy snowfall begins and avalanche danger increases after Thanksgiving, the closure point will still be near the Ross Dam Trail.
But in January, maintenance crews will move the western closure point back to the western side of Diablo Lake’s Thunder Arm near The Thunder Knob Trailhead and Colonial Creek Campground, near milepost 130.
The DOT says it will close the eastern end of the highway at milepost 171 in Mazama, but will also move the closure back to milepost 178 once snow depth increases, leaving 48 miles of traffic-free highway in the winter season.
“This move is going to help the budget, allowing our maintenance team to spend funds in other areas – where potholes need to be filled and guardrail needs to be repaired, for example – instead of on clearing this four-mile stretch of highway throughout the winter,” the DOT wrote in a press release.
According to the DOT, crews will still host the annual spring opening day celebration where crowds have lined up for decades.