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Two Books to Turn to With the North Cascades Hwy Closed Until Spring 2015

Posted by Loren D at Nov 24, 2014 01:10 PM |

The North Cascades Highway (SR 20) has closed for the season due to snow accumulation and avalanche danger, but you can experience the area all winter with two stunning books.

After snow accumulation over the weekend, the North Cascades Highway (SR 20) is closed for the season.

The 37-mile-long winter closure zone begins 14 miles east of Newhalem at milepost 134 on the west side of Rainy Pass (4,855 feet) and ends 22 miles west of Winthrop at milepost 171 below Washington Pass.

Why the seasonal closure?

Avalanches usually close the highway between Thanksgiving and the second week of December. Slides below the Liberty Bell avalanche chutes, just east of 5,477 foot Washington Pass, started dumping snow onto the highway Sunday morning. By Monday morning, two more slides had dumped snow across the highway.

“Any more snow will pack those avalanche chutes, and we’d be putting the public and our crews at risk if we tried to keep the road open any longer,” says Washington State Department of Transportation Twisp Maintenance Supervisor Don Becker. More snow at the high elevations is forecast through the Thanksgiving holiday period.

Mountain pass updates all winter

So when will the highway open? That's up to Mother Nature. But in the past, Cayuse & Chinook passes usually open for the season in May, and the North Cascades Highway generally is plowed out by late April. You can see the historical dates here.

You can also follow the conditions on all major mountain passes throughout the winter at the Department of Washington's Department of Transportation website or Twitter feed.

Two stunning books to experience the North Cascades all winter long

You don't have to wait until next spring to see breathtaking views all along the scenic route. Below are two great books to explore the North Cascades and plan your 2015 adventures in the area.

Explore the wilderness of the North Cascades

The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby, a gorgeous book released in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act earlier this year by Mountaineers Books, brings the North Cascades alive through vivid imagery and stories.

The book (and a great gift idea) includes:

  • A soul-stirring story of the history can challenges facing the rugged North Cascades by Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Dietrich.
  • A foreword from Richard Louv examining the importance of preserving our local wilderness areas for generations to come.
  • Musings from poet Gary Snyder from his time spent as a fire lookout in the region.
  • Day hiking and backcountry inspiration from guidebook author Craig Romano.
  • Profiles of local leaders dedicated to protecting the area by Christian Martin, of North Cascades Institute.
  • Stunning contributions from 20 photographers, including Art Wolfe, Ethan Welty, Benj Drummond, Paul Bannick, Amy Gulick, and Steven Gnam.

A roadside guide

You don't have to wait until next spring to see breathtaking views all along the scenic route. Jack McLeod, a science teacher at Cascade High School in Everett, has written a beautiful book, The North Cascades Highway: A Roadside Guide to America's Alps. Featuring gorgeous photos of the scenic route, the book includes a healthy smattering of roadside geology and history, as well as a helpful key for drivers to locate ideal photo opportunities.