WSDOT Crews Start Clearing Efforts on Cayuse and Chinook Passes
Drivers can look forward to more travel options by the end of May
Spring has officially arrived and maintenance crews are getting Chinook and Cayuse passes ready for summer travel. In March crews began using plows and snow blowers to clear away the 14 feet of snow and debris that has accumulated on State Route 123 Cayuse Pass. Next week crews will begin clearing 18 feet of snow from SR 410 Chinook Pass. Both passes closed for the season in November.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) hopes to reopen Cayuse Pass (elev. 4,675 ft.) by mid-April and Chinook Pass (elev. 5,430 ft.) by Memorial Day weekend. Westside maintenance crews from Greenwater will clear Cayuse Pass and then begin working their way east on SR 410 toward Chinook Pass, to eventually meet up with the eastside crew from Rimrock. Weather can change quickly at these high elevation passes and heavy spring snow storms can bring clearing efforts to a halt.
Every fall, WSDOT closes Chinook and Cayuse passes due to high avalanche risk and hazardous conditions. Numerous slide areas on both passes pose significant danger to WSDOT maintenance crews, park staff and backcountry recreationalists.