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.

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

Burn ban in place for Pierce County

The weather may be getting colder, but burn bans have been called for multiple counties due to deteriorating air quality.

Enumclaw’s Van Hulse to compete in national music showcase

Erik Van Hulse, who also goes by his stage name Siboh Nisoh, has been working toward this big break for almost as long as he can remember.

Kiwanis honor four as Students of the Month

Members of the Buckley Kiwanis Club honored a trio of “Students of the Month” during an Nov. 16 gathering.

Pepper addresses ‘false’ recall charges in community meeting

The meeting, held at the Black Diamond library, was a chance for voters to have “an opportunity to hear from both sides before they decide to sign,” the recall petition, Pepper wrote in an announcement for the meeting.

Wilbanks wins close Buckley race

It took a month, but Luke Wilbanks finally knows he’ll be occupying a seat on the Buckley City Council.

Buckley Council race gets recount; results due Dec. 6

The closest general election outcome in Pierce County was found in Buckley, where a razor-thin difference in a City Council race forced a recount by the Pierce County Elections Department.

Enumclaw Council roster rapidly changing

A significant shake-up of the Enumclaw City Council is well under way. Soon to exit city government is Mayor Liz Reynolds, who opted against seeking another term after eight years in the city’s highest office. Already off the City Council is Jan Molinaro, who was elected to fill the mayoral post during the Nov. 7 general election and has stepped away from council.

Santa touring Bonney Lake, Sumner neighborhoods

Santa will once again be joining East Pierce Fire and Rescue around Bonney Lake, Sumner and surrounding communities to wish everyone happy holidays. He’s already toured Milton and Sumner, but there are still many more routes for him to complete before he heads back to the North Pole.

Most Read