Chinook, Cayuse passes closed for winter

Temporary closures became permanent last week for both Chinook and Cayuse passes.

Heavy snowfall in November closed Chinook and Cayuse passes for the winter. Photo by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Temporary closures became permanent last week for both Chinook and Cayuse passes.

Citing hazardous conditions, the state’s Department of Transportation closed both passes – traveled by state routes 410 and 123, respectively – on Nov. 16. On Nov. 24, DOT maintenance crews buttoned up the passes for the winter.

The state agency had determined the avalanche risk was too great to allow traffic to safely cross Chinook Pass and Cayuse Pass. In addition, the National Park Service had expressed concern about debris and rocks falling onto the highway due to a lack of snowpack from last season’s unusually dry conditions. Snowpack helps keep debris and rock from loosening and moving.

The DOT closed SR 410 between Crystal Mountain Boulevard, about 12 miles northwest of the summit, and Morse Creek, five miles east of the summit. Cayuse Pass is closed within Mount Rainier National Park from Crystal Mountain Boulevard to Stevens Canyon Road.

Chinook Pass sits at an elevation of 5,430 feet and Cayuse is at 4,675 feet. Chinook Pass provides a route from the west side of the state – running directly through Bonney Lake, Buckley and Enumclaw – to the Yakima Valley. Cayuse Pass connects to Chinook Pass and White Pass on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park. The Cayuse Pass summit is at the junction of SR 123 and 410, about five miles west of the Chinook Pass summit.

WSDOT typically closes Chinook and Cayuse passes in late November due to hazardous driving conditions, avalanche danger, mountainous terrain and lack of cell phone service, all of which combine to make for unsafe winter driving.

The earliest Chinook closure on record came on Oct. 25, 2005; for Cayuse, the earliest closure came on Oct. 31, 1994.

Spring openings are largely at the discretion of Mother Nature, with a boost from DOT snowplow crews. Chinook is typically opened in May, although 2015 brought an unusual April 2 opening. The latest Chinook opening came in 1974, when motorists were off-limits until July 12.

More in News

Modern lights aim to tame 410 traffic

Rush hour traffic between Enumclaw and Buckley is a drag. But a DOT project to modernize Buckley’s traffic lights could make smooth sailing of future trips.

Briley Conant, second from the left, and Zach Pederson, far right, ask other Sumner high schoolers to link arms in a show of unity and support for each other and other students around the nation. Photo by Ray Still
Unity, ‘radical civility’ preached at walkout

Sumner High School joined thousands of other students in a nation-wide walkout last week.

Two free park days in April | Washington State Parks Commission

For April 14 and April 22, you won’t need a Discover Pass to visit state parks.

Buckley double homicide suspect charged

Jared P. T. Standley, 21, was charged with killing his parents in Buckley last week.

Rock Haven, located in front of Bonney Lake’s Pet Pros, is a great place in the city to find rocks to paint or leave rocks for others to find. Photo by Ray Still
Changing lives, one painted rock at a time

Bonney Lake Rocks! is one of many local Kindness Rock Project chapters looking to make positive impacts.

Auditor calls for independent election observers | Pierce County

Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson is looking to expand the election observer program.

Podcast, scholarship created in memory of two sons

The Babst Memorial Scholarship, in memory of Garrett and J.T. Babst, will go to an Auburn Mountainview High School student to support their decision to go into trade school.

County planning to finish Enumclaw trail, build bridge over White River

$2.8 million was allotted in the state legislature’s capital budget this year to jumpstart the project, which is expected to be compete between 2020 and 2021.

Most Read