Crews have started to clear the last 2.7-mile stretch of scenic Mount Baker Highway to Artist Point but can’t yet say when they’ll be able to open the road because there’s still so much snow.
More than 40 feet of snow remain on many parts of the highway, including the road’s end in the Artist Point parking lot.
“It’s quite a bit of snow this year compared to most years,” said Andrea Petrich, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation.
That means campers and hikers itching to access the area’s forested mountain beauty will have to be patient.
“People are calling. They want to get up there. It’s a beautiful stretch of our state. We know there’s a lot of people who have that area on their to-do list each year,” she said Thursday. “We’ll have a date for them as soon as we can.”
Crews are using three bulldozers and a massive snow blower to help clear the highway – and will work seven days a week since receiving the all-clear from their avalanche technician on Wednesday.
The road to Artist Point is usually open from mid- to late July until the first substantial snowfall of the year in late September or early October.
It opened for the summer hiking season on June 23 last year – one of the earlier opening dates because there was less snow than usual.
It closed for the season Oct. 14.
More than 5,000 feet above sea level, Artist Point is a popular viewpoint with 360-degree views that include Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. It’s also the jumping off point for stunning mountain hikes.
Nearly 12,000 visitors stop by the Heather Meadows Visitors Center, at milepost 55 on the highway each year, an average of 150 a day during the short time that part of the road is open.
Track the road-clearing progress at wsdot.wa.gov/Northwest/Baker/ArtistPoint.