SR 20 Washington Pass Avalanche Areas

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We cannot physically keep the North Cascades Highway open all winter. The North Cascades Highway has avalanche chutes that are more than 2,000 feet long. Even if a couple inches of snow slides, the chutes can dump a 20-foot deep avalanche on the highway in a matter of minutes. (The avalanche chutes on Stevens and Snoqualmie are all well under 1,000 feet long.) Couple that with the fact that the highway has among the most avalanche chutes of any mountain pass highway in the country and there's no way anyone could provide a safe highway, short of putting the route in a tunnel (which would eliminate all of its appeal, even if someone had that much money).

  • charlene mcbride PRO 5y

    this highway must have been designed in the summer!
  • Washington State Dept of Transportation PRO 5y

    This highway has a pretty interesting history - including how and when it was designed. You can read about it on our North Cascades Highway page:
  • charlene mcbride PRO 5y

    oh wow! thanks!
  • mazama60 5y

    I use the pass 10-12 times a year(opening week through October) the sights are never the same. As a photographer I'm always looking for something new, and I'm never disappointed. Hiking into Maple Pass, Blue Lake Cutthroat Lake, Goat Peak and Sun Moutain trails is always an adventure I look forward to each year.
    In spte of my login, I'm isolated on the west side(Skagit Valley) from the wonderful Methow Valley for some six months a year. Wolf Ridge Resort is always my first stop to visit with Lou and Gab.
  • Matt Weldon PRO 4y

    I used to love climbing this side of the cascades. If the weather was bad on the western side of the crest you could sometimes get better weather around the washington pass area. Great job on all your shots!
  • will_ed 4y

    I've read that the first person to drive across when it officially opened was Ted Bundy. He drove the governor across when he was an assistant.
  • miyoko713 4y

    Maybe a little History of this State Highway is in order, in the Session Laws of the State of Washington in 1895 on page 458 the legislature established the Marcus to Marblemount road. This route is still on the books as State highway except for the portions which have been deed to Cities & Counties. Prior to the construction of the existing location of the now used cascade highway this was called the Southern route and considered by the State Highway Dept. the only route that could be keep open the year around. As for where the highway ended up being built is another whole story.
  • Washington State Dept of Transportation PRO 4y

    If you're curious, there's more North Cascades Highway history at:
  • artforflickr 4y

    loup loup pass is junk in winter and since then is dangerous for bicycles
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Taken on December 7, 2010
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