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Here’s when you can drive across the North Cascades again

Five facts about the North Cascades Highway

The Washington State Department of Transportation clears the North Cascades Highway each spring to allow travelers access to the high road that links Whatcom and Skagit counties with Okanogan County. Here are five facts about the highway.
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The Washington State Department of Transportation clears the North Cascades Highway each spring to allow travelers access to the high road that links Whatcom and Skagit counties with Okanogan County. Here are five facts about the highway.

It’ll be easier to get to Central Washington — especially to some hiking trails and the Methow Valley cities of Winthrop and Twisp — after the scenic North Cascades Highway opens Thursday.

“Crews still have a bit of work to do, but this is the earliest opening since 2015 and will have the road connecting the Skagit and Methow valleys open in time for lowland fishing season and Winthrop’s “49er Days,” the state Department of Transportation said Monday on its Facebook page.

A 37-mile section of state Highway 20 closes to cars every fall between Diablo and Mazama because of heavy snow that creates avalanche conditions, WSDOT said at its website.

Two state Department of Transportation crews — one from the east side and another from the west — clear the road of snow and dangerous trees using plows, blowers, graders, excavators and chain saws.

The earliest opening was March 10, 2005, and the latest was Sept. 2, 1972, according to WSDOT records.

Records show that the road usually opens sometime from early April to early May.

It didn’t close for the winter of 1976-77.

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Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.
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