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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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North Cascades Highway: Can you drive it during winter?

NATIONAL PARKS -- It's official. This week's temporary closure of the North Cascades Highway will continue through the winter, according to avalanche experts who assessed the danger there Wednesday after a storm deposited 2 feet of snow high in North Cascades National Park.

The scenic portion of State Highway 20 closes between Mazama and Newhalem ALMOST every winter because of deep snow and avalanche danger.

In 2003, the pass closed on Oct. 17 for the winter -- the earliest ever -- due to flooding and mudslides that blocked the highway, the Wenatchee World reports.

The latest closure was in 1989, when it closed temporarily on Jan. 3, and for the winter on Jan. 9.

When was the last time motorists could drive the route over Rainy and Washington passes all winter long?

The pass did not close during the winter of 1977-78, when there was not enough snow to cause avalanche concerns, the Wenatchee World says.

Depending on conditions, the pass will reopen sometime between late March and early May.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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