Northwest's High Mountain Passes Set To Open Early

Mar 16, 2015

Several high mountain passes in the Northwest are set to have historically-early openings this year due to low snowpack.

Washington transportation officials said opening day for Chinook Pass -- between Enumclaw and Yakima -- will likely be April 3. Some years it hasn’t opened up until well past Memorial Day.

That’s good news for some resorts, restaurants and gas stations. Doug Williams, who runs Whistlin’ Jack lodge, cabins and restaurant off Highway 410 outside of Naches, said his summertime staff is excited to be hired on early this year, and get in more hours. Williams nearly doubles his staff to about 70 people between now and early July.

He said he’s got a lot on the spring to-do list.

“All of a sudden you look around and say, ‘Gosh darn, I sure wish I had another week,’” Williams said.

Other passes set to open early are Cayuse Pass in Washington and possibly Oregon’s McKenzie Pass. Idaho’s mountain passes are kept open nearly year round.