Northern Tier Bicycle Route highway opens in Washington

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One of the most scenic rides in the US is open to traffic, including bicycles.

The North Cascades Highway opened at noon today after state highway crews spent the past seven weeks clearing away snow nearly 60 feet deep.

The scene above shows crews pushing through an avalanche chute near Liberty Bell, one of the landmarks near Washington Pass just two weeks ago.

The North Cascades Highway (State route 20) carries the Norther Tier Bicycle Route across northern Washington state. The 4,285-mile bike route rolls out between Anacortes on the Puget Sound to Bar Harbor, Maine.

In addition to the Northern Tier, the Adventure Cycling Association also has included the highway on the 869-mile Washington Parks Bicycle Route.

The route opening means that Barn Bicycle Camping in Mazama should be open soon. Operated by Jim and Jan for the past five years, the site offers a spot to pitch your tent and homestyle hospitality.

The 37-mile stretch closed on Nov. 15 and  includes the scenic 4,855-foot Rainy Pass and the 5,477-foot Washington Pass. Snow forces closure of the highway every year; it usually reopens in late April or early May. The efforts by the Washington State Highway Administration were hampered by snowfall during the clearing stages and a couple of avalanches.

Above is a view of the North Cascades Highway during drier conditions in the summer. That year it was part of the route of Ride Around Washington, offered by Cascade Bicycle Club.

The WSDOT also announced that Route 504, the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway, should be reopened by Saturday. That’s the road to the Mount St. Helen’s National Monument.

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  1. This is exciting news! It’s always crazy how long snow remains in the high country, but it’s a serious consideration all cycling tourists need to take, so thanks for the update! I did the TransAmerica route last summer, and can’t wait for the summer when I can take on the Northern Tier!

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