The high-pass section of the North Cascades Highway, Highway 20, reopened at 11 a.m. Friday, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced.
The highway, which crosses the mountains between the Skagit and Methow valleys and bisects North Cascades National Park, regularly closes in winter because of heavy snowpack. The highway’s highest point, Washington Pass, is 5,477 feet.
The road had been closed since last November from Milepost 134, east of Diablo, Whatcom County, to Milepost 171, 14 miles west of Mazama, Okanogan County. State crews began clearing snow from the closed section on March 17.
Highway crews Friday celebrated reopening the route in time for Saturday’s opening of lowland-lakes trout-fishing season as well as Winthrop’s ’49er Days festival, set for May 6-8.
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Early May is a typical time for reopening the highway. Last year, it reopened April 3 because of the light-snow winter. The earliest opening ever was on March 10, 2005, but two weeks later snow closed the highway for another 10 days. In the winter of 1976-1977 the highway never closed, due to a drought.
Highway 20 remains reduced to one lane near Milepost 92 east of Concrete due to repair work on an unstable slope. Temporary signals are directing traffic through the open lane.
More photos of this spring’s highway plowing effort are here. More information on the highway here.