Source: Washington State News 2
Jordan Longacre, communications, 206-573-0528
Final 2.7 miles of Mount Baker Highway will close to vehicle traffic for the winter; backcountry use is also discouraged below crumbling wall
GLACIER – No signs of snowfall yet, but beginning Monday, Oct. 12, State Route 542/Mount Baker Highway to Artist Point is closing for the season. This early closure is due to a crumbling wall and the potential safety hazard to travelers and the ski runs below.
Built in the 1930s, the wall is located at milepost 55.6 and sits above the Heather Meadows Visitor Center, Chain Lakes Loop trailhead and Austin Pass Picnic area. Erosion below and behind the wall is creating the risk of collapse. The Washington State Department of Transportation will close SR 542 and the ski area below before snow arrives to reduce the risks of an uncontrolled collapse over the winter, including removing a section of the wall in the short-term to keep it from falling on the road or areas below.
This stretch of highway, known as the Road to Artist Point, is narrow with sharp curves and steep slopes. Each winter, WSDOT closes it to vehicle traffic to keep travelers safe, while at the same time a portion of the road becomes part of Mt. Baker Ski Area’s terrain.
Slopes will also be closed
Due to the risk of falling rock and debris, backcountry adventurers are being asked to avoid the area. Anyone using areas along closed winter highways should also check conditions with Northwest Avalanche Center or Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest before your trip.
Reopening the Road to Artist Point
Typically during the summer months WSDOT crews start clearing the final 2.7 miles of Mount Baker Highway as well as the Artist Point parking lot. More information will be available on the status of the road in spring/summer 2021 when snow begins to melt and the condition of the wall and slopes can be evaluated for longer-term options.