The party’s over for bicyclists who’ve had long stretches of the North Cascades Highway all to themselves as road crews have been clearing snow from State Route 20 west of Winthrop. The Washington Department of Transportation plans to reopen the North Cascades Highway to traffic at noon today.
The stretch of Highway 20 from Mazama to Newhalem closes every winter because of deep snow and avalanche danger. This winter, it closed on Dec. 3. It generally reopens in April or May, although it has opened a few years in March, and once as late as June 14.
A helicopter crew used explosives last week to send most of the snow down 10 slide chutes in the Liberty Bell area to reduce the chance of slides after the road is cleared.
Opening the route over Washington Pass gives visitors access to numerous trails in North Cascades National Park. But bring snowshoes this month. Snow at the pass summit measured almost 10 feet on Monday. Snow at the Liberty Bell avalanche chute averaged 35 feet deep.