North Cascades Highway Closed For Winter

Nov 16, 2020

The Washington Department of Transportation has closed a 35-mile stretch of Highway 20, the North Cascades Highway, for winter.
Credit Washington State Department of Transportation camera

Washington’s North Cascades Highway is now closed for the winter.

Each fall, the state Department of Transportation blocks off a 35-to-50-mile section of Highway 20 when snow begins falling in the Cascade Mountains that line the highway.

“It’s kind of a balancing act. We like to keep it open as long as we can because it’s a more convenient cross up there and freight and logging does use it," said Lauren Loebsack from the Department of Transportation in Wenatchee.

She says avalanche chutes in the mountains above direct snow onto several sections of the highway. Her agency’s avalanche team keeps an eye on the snowpack and helps to coordinate the process of clearing away huge piles of snow from the road surface.

“In the spring you can see it took trees and rocks and it’s often knocking down guardrails and signage. We have to go and repair when we reopen in the spring," Loebsack said.

Highway 20 is normally cleared and reopened sometime in May.