Motorists have traditionally been able to cross Chinook Pass – the scenic stretch of highway connecting Western Washington with the Yakima Valley – by the Memorial Day weekend. But that’s not the case this year.
Due to a combination of spring snow and road construction, the two mountain passes east of Enumclaw, Chinook and Cayuse, will likely not open until June 11.
The announcement about the delayed openings was made last week by Mount Rainier National Park officials.
Closed until June will be sections of state routes 410 and 123 between the park’s Sunrise Road and Stevens Canyon Road.
Contractors were to begin work April 30 to repair a quarter-mile of SR 410 near along the Mather Memorial Parkway inside the national park boundaries. For several years, motorists have experienced rough road surfaces at this location related to a slow-moving and deep-seated landslide.
Park officials said the road repair project was timed to have the least impact possible on the traveling public. Following the anticipated June 11 road reopening, project work will continue until late June. During that time travelers should expect short delays with alternating one-way traffic between mileposts 64 and 64.5.
While access over Chinook and Cayuse passes is delayed, the entrance to the national park – from Crystal Mountain Boulevard to the White River Campground – is anticipated to open May 18. This will provide recreational opportunities in the White River area in advance of the road to Sunrise opening for the summer. Conditions permitting, the road to Sunrise typically opens by the Fourth of July holiday.
The Chinook Pass opening also was delayed a year ago, when a late snowfall caught crews by surprise. The pass didn’t open until June 9, 2017. Chinook had opened by the holiday weekend in seven of the eight years prior to that.
On the south side of the mountain, park staff have targeted today, May 11, to open the southeast entrance near Packwood, providing access via SR 123 to the Grove of the Patriarchs area.
For more images of Chinook and Cayuse Pass, check out the WSDOT flickr.