SR 20, North Cascades Highway Avalanche Map

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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).

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Taken on December 7, 2010