Artist Point at the end of Mount Baker Highway will open for the first time in almost two years on Tuesday, July 24.
"We're finishing blowing the snow out of the upper parking lot," state Department of Transportation Dustin Terpening said. Before Tuesday, crews will also clear the shoulders of the 2.7-mile stretch of highway from the upper parking lot of the Mt. Baker Ski Area to the viewpoint.
DOT opened Heather Meadows Visitor Center, one mile past the parking lot, on Friday, July 20. The visitor center was open last year, but Artist Point remained closed. Wintry weather including significant snowfall lingered until late June last year, and the state decided to keep Artist Point closed for the summer. It has been closed to vehicles since Oct. 25, 2010.
Warm weather over the past couple weeks aided crews, who started clearing the road to Artist Point on June 4. This snow removal cost the state about $50,000, Terpening said. The destination is popular among tourists, including some from out of state.
A U.S. Forest Service recreation pass is required to park at Artist Point, which has trailheads to the national forest. More information is at fs.usda.gov/mbs. Click on "Passes & Permits."
Over the past decade Artist Point, above 5,000 feet in elevation, has closed between late September and late October. Opening dates have ranged from late June to early August.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at email@example.com or call 360-715-2266.