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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

Category: North Cascades Highway
May 7, 2014 at 4:56 PM

North Cascades Highway reopens just in time for Winthrop festival

Washington highway workers reopened  the North Cascades Highway at noon Thursday for the summer travel season. On  Monday the crews were still 3.5 miles apart, but they delivered on their hope to reopen the highway the day before the annual Winthrop 49er Days festival begins. Washington State Department of Transportation photos in the Flickr link above…

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Comments | Topics: North Cascades, North Cascades Highway, snow plowing

April 8, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Digging out the North Cascades Highway

High up in north-central Washington’s rugged mountains, crews are once again digging out the snow-buried North Cascades Highway. The road is a scenic short cut, through craggy mountains and forests, between Western Washington and the Methow Valley and gives access to high-country hiking. About 40 miles of the highway, also known as State Route 20,  is closed each winter because of  snowfall…

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Comments | More in North Cascades, North Cascades Highway | Topics: North Cascades Highway opening day, Washington DOT

December 3, 2013 at 10:11 AM

North Cascades Highway closes for the winter

New snow, and avalanches, have prompted the closure of the North Cascades Highway for the season. Washington’s Department of Transportation announced the closure this morning. The scenic mountain  highway in northern Washington closes each winter.  This is one of the later closings; last year it closed Nov. 20 and reopened April 16. Get more information at the highway website.

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Comments | More in North Cascades, North Cascades Highway | Topics: seasonal closure

October 9, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Ready for a fall-color road trip? Celebrate Fossil Day in Republic

Leaves fossilized in shale are typical of what you'll find in Republic's fossil beds. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

Leaves fossilized in shale are typical of what you’ll find in Republic’s fossil beds. (photos by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

With October sunshine and chilly nights turning leaves to gold and scarlet, are you ready for an eye-popping fall-color road trip combined with some fun natural-history education? Follow the morning sun to Republic in Eastern Washington now through Monday for celebration of National Fossil Day.

Fossil Day is being celebrated with a long weekend of events around Republic’s renowned Stonerose Interpretive Center, dedicated to the study and preservation of fossils from the Eocene Epoch, some 50 million years ago, when the area was covered by a great lake.

Look for colorful vine maples on a drive over the North Cascades Highway.

Expect colorful vine maples on a drive over the North Cascades Highway.

Lake-bottom sediment turned to shale that has preserved leaves, twigs, insects and fish from the era. Besides taking in the best fossil displays at the center, visitors can pay a $5-$8 fee to visit the nearby fossil site and excavate on their own (hammers and chisels available for rent, $5).  You’re allowed to take home up to three finds per day if they are not deemed of scientific value or significant to the Stonerose collection.

The Fossil Day celebration will include

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Comments | Topics: fossils, National Fossil Day, Republic

October 1, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Recreation, economic blows for state as national parks close

You can't go to Mount Rainier National Park, thanks to the government shutdown which has closed national parks in Washington and throughout the country. (Elaine Thompson/AP photo)

You can’t go to Mount Rainier National Park, thanks to the government shutdown which has closed national parks in Washington state  and throughout the country. (Elaine Thompson/AP photo)

With national parks now closed because of the government shutdown, some of Washington state’s most popular scenic drives and outdoor recreation areas are off-limits to the public. And for communities around the parks it’s an economic body-blow with hotels, restaurants, shops and tour companies losing business.

“Our fall shoulder season is huge – usually,” said Mary Brelsford of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau.  And in Mount Rainier National Park alone, there

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Comments | Topics: government shutdown, mount rainier national park, olympic national park

September 9, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Two Washington mountain highways still closed by slides

A big boulder came down onto the North Cascades Highway in slides last week after heavy rains.  The popular, and scenic, mountain highway remains closed around Rainy Pass. (WSDOT photo)

A big boulder came down onto the North Cascades Highway in slides last week after heavy rains. The popular, and scenic, mountain highway remains closed around Rainy  Pass as crews clear the road. (WSDOT photo)

Parts of the North Cascades Highway and State Route 410 ( in the southern Cascades) remain closed because of mudslides late last week that blocked the roads. And extensive roadwork on US 2 (Steven Pass highway), near Leavenworth, has closed part of that road through Friday  - although a detour is in place.  

The slides on the North Cascades and 410 highways followed heavy rains that unleashed torrents of mud and rocks.  The state Department of Transportation hopes to reopen the North Cascades Highway at noon on Thursday (Sept. 12); there’s no reopening time yet for SR 410; check here for updates.

The North Cascades Highway, which links

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Comments | More in highways, national parks, North Cascades, North Cascades Highway, State Route 410 | Topics: mudslides, Washington highway closures

September 6, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Two Washington passes and Icicle Road closed by mudslides

In the southern  Cascades, Highway 410 has been closed by mudslides, 8 feet deep in some spots. (WSDOT photo)

In the southern Cascades, the Chinook Pass Highway has been closed by mudslides, 8 feet deep in some spots, in Yakima County. (WSDOT photo)

Mudslides have closed Washington’s scenic North Cascades Highway once again.  And in the southern Cascades, State Route 410 — the Chinook Pass Highway — is also closed by slides,  with parts of it buried 8 feet deep in mud.

A slide has also closed a popular recreational route, Icicle Road, near Leavenworth.

On the North Cascades Highway, heavy rain touched off the slides in several locations, with rocks and mud covering the highway, the Department of Transportation said Friday. The road, also known as Highway 20, is closed between mileposts 147 (10 miles west of Rainy Pass) and 171 (9 miles east of Washington Pass).

Mudslides earlier closed the popular North Cascades Highway for more than a week in August. Now it will be closed through this weekend, and a reopening date

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Comments | Topics: highway closures, mountain passes, mudslides

August 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM

North Cascades Highway closed until at least Monday

Part of the North Cascades Highway vanishes under dirt and rocks, thanks to this mudslide - one of eight that closed the road on Aug. 10. (WSDOT photo)

Part of the North Cascades Highway vanished under dirt and rocks, thanks to this mudslide – one of eight that closed the road on Aug. 10. (WSDOT photo)

The North Cascades Highway is expected to remain closed at least until Monday (Aug. 19) as crews toil to clear landslides, forcing drivers  to take a longer route in and out of the Methow Valley.  And the highway closure is hitting tourism-dependent businesses hard as some visitors cancel trips.

The Washington State Department of Transportation had hoped to reopen the highway this weekend, but crews are dealing with  some boulders as big as passenger cars that have blocked the scenic mountain road, plus mounds of dirt and trees.

The highway closed last weekend after heavy rain and hail storms touched off eight mud slides that buried the road up to 25 feet deep in debris.

With more rain in the forecast this weekend for the area, it’s possible that more landslides

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Comments | Topics: Highway 20 closure, North Cascades slides