The North Cascades Highway is seen from the Washington Pass overlook on Oct. 11. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

The North Cascades Highway is seen from the Washington Pass overlook on Oct. 11. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

State sets winter closing date for North Cascades Highway

The scenic road is expexted to close Nov. 15, or sooner if there is significant snow or ice.

By Robert Mittendorf / The Bellingham Herald

Traveling to Eastern Washington will take a bit longer in a few weeks, as state officials have scheduled the annual winter closure for the North Cascades Highway.

Also called Highway 20 or State Route 20, the scenic road across the North Cascades will close Nov. 15, or sooner in the event of heavy snow and ice, the Washington State Department of Transportation said in a statement.

“Mid-November is typically when this mountain pass closes for the season as weather, snow conditions and avalanche danger threaten the safety of drivers and maintenance crews,” WSDOT said. “Prior to the seasonal closure, crews will perform winter maintenance as needed and will regularly assess conditions to determine whether the highway is safe to remain open.”

The closure point will be Milepost 134, east of the mountain village of Newhalem at the Ross Dam Trailhead, WSDOT said.

In previous years, Highway 20 closures were announced after significant snowfall.

But WSDOT wanted to give travelers advance notice, according to the statement.

Highway 20 usually opens in May, allowing Whatcom County residents easier access to warmer spring weather in the Methow Valley.

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