Later than planned, Chinook Pass opens

A Department of Transportation worker standing by a wall of snow after Chinook Pass was cleared today, June 9. Contributed photo

Winter snowfall kept Chinook Pass closed two weeks longer than anticipated, but the road finally opened to travelers.

The Department of Transportation annually attempts to clear state Route 410 in time for the busy Memorial Day weekend, but late-winter storms made that impossible this year. Just the opposite was true in 2015, when the pass opened a week ahead of schedule.

Even with Friday’s opening, which allows for travel between Enumclaw and the Yakima Valley, the DOT was keeping a watchful eye on the winding pass road. Maintenance crews were monitoring the pass over the weekend, on the lookout for additional snow or slides that could endanger motorists.

At an elevation of 5,430 feet, Chinook Pass is the third-highest pass in the DOT system. Sherman Pass leads the way at 5,575 feet, followed by the North Cascades Highway, which sits just a bit higher than Chinook at 5,477 feet.

Here’s an update on other roads and attractions in this section of Mount Rainier National Park.

• Both the Sunrise Road and Mowich Lake Road remain closed for the winter season, although both are open to those on foot; at Sunrise, foot access is limited to Friday through Sunday. Park staff estimate a June 30 opening for each, but the weather is always a factor.

• Carbon River Road is open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic only, no vehicles beyond the park entrance.

• White River Road is open to the White River campground for day-use only.

• Cayuse Pass opened a couple of weeks ago.

As seasonal openings continue throughout Mount Rainier National Park, visitors are encouraged to check the park’s website for up-to-date road status. For current information, visit www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/road-status.htm.