Autumn snow and ice close SR 542 to Artist Point

(GLACIER)– Snow and icy conditions are forecasted on State Route 542/Mount Baker Highway and crews have closed the final 2.7 miles of the highway to vehicle traffic. The gate will remain closed until next year.

Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews remove snow and ice from SR 542 during the winter but this final stretch, known as the Road to Artist Point, is narrow with sharp curves and steep slopes. WSDOT closes it to vehicle traffic each winter season for the safety, while at the same time a portion of the road becomes part of Mt. Baker Ski Area’s terrain.

While the road to Artist Point typically closes in October, early autumn snow and ice have led to September closures in 2007, 2009 and 2013. The earliest closure was Sept. 27, 2007.

While the gate is closed, backcountry adventurers can access the area on skis, snowshoes and fat bikes at their own risk. Anyone using areas along closed winter highways should check conditions with Northwest Avalanche Center or Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest before your trip.

Once snow stops falling in spring of 2020, WSDOT crews will move extra snow blowers and plows to the area and start clearing the final 2.7 miles of Mount Baker Highway as well as the Artist Point parking lot. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest staff says more than 200,000 visitors travel to the Artist Point area each summer. While clearing depends on the weather, it usually reopens in early July.