Enumclaw council wants Cayuse Pass open all year

With an eye to increased economic opportunities for the region, members of the Enumclaw City Council unanimously endorsed a request that Cayuse Pass be kept open throughout the year.

The council previously adopted a similar resolution, asking that Chinook Pass be maintained for vehicle traffic during the winter months.

The Washington State Department of Transportation now closes the mountain passes when winter weather sets in, opening them according to springtime conditions.

A resolution passed by the council May 26 noted that WSDOT keeps Snoqualmie, Stevens and White passes open all year, “providing economic benefits to communities along those highways.”

It was additionally noted that the National Park Service maintains year-round access to Paradise on the south side of Mount Rainier National Park and the Carbon River Ranger Station on the park’s western corridor. The result is a financial benefit to communities like Buckley, Wilkeson, Eatonville, Elbe and Ashford.

Enumclaw, the council resolution points out, serves as the gateway to the north and east sides of the park.

“The seasonal closure of Cayuse and Chinook passes deprives Enumclaw of economic benefits enjoyed by communities along highways with year-round access across the Cascade Mountain Range,” the council-approved resolution states. It is noted that Cayuse Pass was kept open all year until the early 1970s.

The dollars dropped by mountain travelers are significant. A National Park Service report determined visitors spent more than $45 million in communities surrounding the national park during 2014.