Be Prepared
Free Travel Guide
Sign Up for
Our Newsletter

Travel Alerts

The month of December can get pretty busy on the Stevens Pass Greenway section of the Cascade Loop as Christmas in Leavenworth is wildly popular. Check here for the latest from the WS DOT on travel impacts and anticipated wait times.

Enough snow has fallen in the North Cascades that avalanche chutes are full and, for traveler safety, the 37-mile seasonal stretch of State Route 20 closed at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Two of the four giant Liberty Bell Mountain avalanche chutes came in over the weekend, filling the snow ditches along the shoulder and onto the highway.  Several of the Cutthroat Ridge avalanche chutes filled and released snow to the shoulder as well.  The immediate forecast calls for some more snow today, again tomorrow, and probably Thursday, prompting the decision to close the highway to vehicle traffic for the season for everyone’s safety.

Our crews will swing the North Cascade Highway gates closed at milepost 134 near Diablo and milepost 171 near Mazama. This section will remain closed until next spring when the snow stops falling to make it safe for WSDOT crews to clear the road.

Winter access

Snowshoers, cross-country skiers, fat-tire bikers or snowmobilers can access the closed area throughout the winter. Parking is available near each closed gate. Anyone choosing to recreate in the backcountry should know the conditions including avalanche risks, watch the forecast and bring proper gear.

Later this winter, adventurers should expect the closure points to expand by about 11 miles. On the west side, the closure point moves 4 miles, down to milepost 130 and on the east side, the closure moves 7 miles, to Early Winters at milepost 178. Extending the closure area when the snow gets heavier and deeper saves money and resources. There will still be parking available at both closure locations.

Highway history

WSDOT opened the final section of SR 20/North Cascades Highway in 1972. Each year crews close it to vehicles for the winter due to the snow in the 27 avalanche chutes that loom above the highway. That closure usually happens in November or December. However, in previous years the highway has closed as early as October. The latest closing was Jan. 3, 1990 and in 1976-77 the highway remained open all winter due to the lack of snow.

Spring 2019 reopening

Avalanche experts will assess conditions in early spring 2019. When it is determined to be safe, WSDOT will move snow blowers, plows, snow cats, graders and loaders to the area to start clearing snow, removing winter debris and replacing damaged guardrail and signs. That clearing process usually takes six to eight weeks.

With winter weather too come the occasional accident, slow-down or closure. Please always check the WSDOT's Traffic Alerts page before you venture out.