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Clearing road to Artist Point begins May 31

Washington State Department of Transportation crews clear snow from the road to Artist Point June 19, 2012.
Washington State Department of Transportation crews clear snow from the road to Artist Point June 19, 2012. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

It’s time for the annual squeal of anticipation from hikers: Road clearing to Artist Point begins Tuesday, May 31.

Crews from the Washington State Department of Transportation will begin clearing snow off the final 2.7 miles of Mount Baker Highway that lead to the Artist Point parking lot.

Don’t lace up the hiking boots just yet. It takes several weeks to clear the last section of road, which usually opens in early July.

By this time last year, the Artist Point parking lot already was open. A dismal snowpack led to a May 14 opening — more than a month ahead of the previous earliest opening on record. Crews started clearing the road in April 2015.

It also closed later than ever — on Nov. 1. The 172 days was the longest open stretch for the road on record. The previous mark was 115 days, in 2014.

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.

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