Good news: WSDOT has announced that Cayuse Pass is scheduled to reopen in just 10 – yes, TEN – days from tomorrow on Friday, March 27, followed by Chinook Pass on Friday, April 3. A rare spring time treat after an unseasonably mild winter. The scheduled reopening dates are historically early for both passes. Chinook Pass is located on SR 410 between the towns of Enumclaw and Naches. The 5,430-foot-high pass is about five miles east of the Cayuse Pass summit. Chinook Pass provides the east entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.
WSDOT maintenance crews will work to compress what would typically be 12-13 weeks to prepare the roadway into just 2-3 weeks. “We are going to work hard to speed up the clearing process to get the passes open for drivers,” said WSDOT Assistant Regional Manager of Maintenance Dave McCormick. “However, safety for our crews and the traveling public will remain our number one priority.” Recreational access is restricted prior to the highways reopening on SR 410 from Chinook Pass to the White River Y and on SR 123 on Cayuse down to the tunnel while crews operate heavy equipment on the roadway. Thereafter, Chinook Pass will reopen on the east side at Morse Creek, five miles east of the summit, and on the west side at the intersection of SR 410 and SR 123. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane just east of the Chinook summit due to highway damage from the previous winter. On Cayuse, traffic will be allowed on SR 410 at Crystal Mountain Boulevard and SR 123 near Stevens Canyon Road. Parking areas along the roadways will not be available until further in the season. For more information refer to the Mount Rainier website. As we count down to this year’s early opening, check out this video featuring WSDOT’s Avalanche Specialist, John Stimberis, from a past opening day at Chinook Pass. Next up: North Cascades Highway SR20 which WSDOT began to clear today in hopes of reopening in a month or less. Live to ski another day!