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Roads Report: Seasonal Roads Open, Others Close for Repairs

Posted by Loren D at May 17, 2017 08:21 AM |

Roads and passes open in the North Cascades and Mount Rainier. Mora Road (and access to Rialto Beach) in Olympic National Park will also be closed for 6 weeks during repairs.

Every year, hikers celebrate the clearing of key roads and passes to their favorite high elevation hiking spots. While many of the trails the roads provide access to are still buried under snow, the open roads herald the summer season ahead.

May 10, 2017 on SR 20
On May 10, North Cascade road crews were still contending with avalanche slides covering sections of already cleared road. Photo by WSDOT.

Roads open in the North Cascades, at Mount Rainier

State Route 20 (the North Cascades Highway) opened yesterday, after a stretch of warmer weather allowed crews to clear the road sooner than they anticipated. The seasonal route bridges the North Cascades and is a key access corridor for summer and fall hiking.

Mount Rainier area passes are opening soon. Cayuse Pass (elevation 4,675 ft) is set to be opened at 8 a.m. on Friday, May 19. Washington Department of Transportation Crews hope to have Chinook Pass cleared in time for Memorial Day.

Chinook Pass in April 2017
Chinook Pass still showing plenty of snow a month ago on April 17, 2017. Photo by WSDOT

For updates on these passes and other roads around Mount Rainier National Park, follow Mount Rainier National Park on Twitter or Facebook, or check the Road Status page before you head out.

Hiking tip: Many of the trails in the Cascades along these routes will still have snow on them, so check trail conditions and Trip Reports before you go. Drop by one of the ranger stations on your way, and for safety, stick to the snow-free sections of trail if you don't have advanced snow skills.

Repairs and Closures in Olympic National Park

In Olympic National Park, flood damage repair work begins today and will last for up to 6 weeks to restore Mora Road to two lanes.

There will be no access to the popular Rialto Beach during construction, though Mora Campground will remain open throughout the project.

Rialto Beach will be accessible to visitors and hikers over Memorial Day weekend starting Friday, May 26, at 5 p.m. through Monday, May 29, at 5 p.m.

Park responsibly, drive cautiously, report damage

This time of year, many smaller forest roads are just starting to open up, and warmer weather can also mean washouts and damage for others.

"Roadbeds at higher elevations where the snow is just melting off are saturated and road shoulders are very soft and easily give way," advised the the Forest Service last year. They recommend visitors drive slowly and cautiously, since there could be road damage around the next bend.

"I can’t stress enough that people need to take care when driving in the woods as the roads melt out," said Forest Engineer Jason Peterson this time last year. "If the road is soft and wet, please don’t drive on it and avoid driving through snow drifts as conditions change with the warming temperatures throughout the day."

If you do encounter road damage, in addition to noting it in your trip report, you may also want to report the road number, milepost number and/or nearest stream crossing to the local land manager or ranger district office.

When parking near a washout or road closure be sure to leave enough room for you and others to turn around without parking in or too close to the road. Park responsibly and allow room for others to access their vehicles.