Road to Artist Point closed for season by snowfall

After receiving its first snow of the winter on November 1, the road leading to Artist Point on Mount Baker has been closed for the winter after a record-breaking season.

On November 1, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews closed the last 2.7 miles of steep mountain road after 6 inches of snow fell. This marks the latest recorded closing of the road, beating the earlier record of October 26 in 2011, capping off the longest open season the route has ever had.

The road to Artist Point was open 172 days, far surpassing the previous record of 115 days set in 2014. Due to low snowfall during the 2014/15 season, WSDOT crews were able to start clearing the highway in April and open it on May 14, seven weeks earlier than usual.

The stretch of State Route 542 between the Mount Baker Ski Area and Artist Point is a narrow, winding road that reaches an altitude of 5,000 feet. In the winter, the road can be buried under as much as 50 feet of snow.

“We close the highway every year when snow starts to accumulate on the road because conditions can become dangerous,” said WSDOT maintenance superintendent Tony Hernandez. “We opened the road much earlier than ever before, so people got to enjoy a long season at Artist Point this year.”

The record for the earliest road closure was set on September 27, 2007. In 1999, the road did not open due to record snowfall.

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