Unlock the Gates: Mountain passes open for the summer



Independence Pass opens in time for Memorial Day. [Photo] Larry Lamsa

As the snow recedes, mountain roads start to open for the summer months. This week, mountain passes from the Rockies to the Cascades unlock their winter gates for summer traffic. And while this may limit backcountry skiing accessibility, mountain biking and hiking enthusiasts take to the hills.

Here are a list of openings by region:


Kebler Pass, connecting Crested Butte and Paonia, has a delayed opening due to a small landslide. CBS Denver reports that engineers will, “fully assess the damage and decide how to best repair the roadway.” The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will open the road when the damage is thoroughly repaired, and Colorado’s 9News reports that, “If the roadway can’t be opened in time for Memorial Day weekend, the county says they will open the road on the east side up to Lost Lake.”

In Rocky Mountain National Park, the Trail Ridge Road is scheduled to open on May 27, despite the 19-foot snow drifts earlier in the month. “CDOT and a team from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center performed avalanche mitigation last week,” 9News reports, “[we are] dropping bombs to loosen snow along the road to Aspen.”

On the front range of Colorado sits Mount Evans, the home to the highest paved road in North America—the Mount Evans Scenic Byway reaches above 14,000 feet and is scheduled to open May 27. On July 23, the road will be closed for the Bob Cook Memorial Hill Climb bike race.

CDOT will open Independence Pass on May 26 in time for Memorial Day after hosting the Independence Pass Foundation’s annual road bike race, Ride for the Pass.


The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) reports that McKenzie Pass, which allows travel through the Cascades, will open in late June, but the road will be available to bikers earlier in the spring.


Tioga Road and Sonora Pass have both opened May 18, and Glacier Point Road was open as of April 19 for the summer season. Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park will remain closed for a restoration project, reports the National Park Service (NPS).

The NPS is clearing Lassen Loop in Lassen Volcanic National Park and reports that, “The park highway will open once the final section between Bumpass Hell and Devastated Area is cleared, rockfalls are cleared, and all lingering ice is melted.”

The California Department of Transportation (CDOT) adds that Ebbetts Pass, Lake Sabrina to Aspendell, Monitor Pass and June Lake Loop are all officially open.

Montana – Wyoming

The Montana Department of Transportation and the NPS in Wyoming is working hard to open Beartooth Highway, which extends between the two states. The official Beartooth Highway website cites, “Yellowstone National Park Service has projected May 27, 2016 as opening day for the entire Beartooth Highway, weather permitting.”


The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) posts that Cayuse Pass, Chinook Pass, Disautel Pass, Manastash Ridge and Mt. Baker Highway are all now open.

As roads open, anticipation builds for mountain bikers and hikers who now have access to higher elevation trails, but stashes still exist for those backcountry skiers willing to search for them.

For more information on road openings and closures, visit www.transportation.gov.

Related posts:

Speak Your Mind