Artist Point opens Monday; earliest opening since 2005

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 28, 2013 

Artist Point at the end of Mount Baker Highway will open as planned Monday, July 1, the state Department of Transportation announced.

The U.S. Forest Service's Heather Meadows Visitor Center won't open until Friday, July 5, at the earliest, a Forest Service spokeswoman said.

Heather Meadows is about a mile above Mt. Baker Ski Area, which is the end of the line for wintertime travelers on the highway. Artist Point is 2.7 miles past the ski area.

The snow might be piled more than 15 feet high around the edges of the upper parking lot, but state crews were able to clear the lot itself and the highway leading up to it in four weeks. The snow was about 25 feet deep in the parking lot before crews began snow removal June 3.

Located more than 5,000 feet above sea level, Artist Point is a popular viewpoint that features 360-degree views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. It also is the jumping-off point for numerous stunning mountain hikes.

Parking at Artist Point requires either an annual or daily Northwest Forest Pass, available at the Glacier Public Service Center, 10091 Mount Baker Highway.

July 1 is the earliest opening for Artist Point since 2005. It is usually open from mid- to late July until the first substantial snowfall of the year in late September or early October.

Artist Point has been closed since Oct. 16, 2012. Last year it opened on July 24 - a year when more snow fell there.

Two years ago, crews were able to open the road only as far as Heather Meadows, on Aug. 5, 2011.

Information on Artist Point is online at wsdot.wa.gov/Northwest/Baker/ArtistPoint.

Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2298.

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