Road to Artist Point Now Open for season
Final 2.7 miles of SR 542 now available for vehicle, bicycle use
June 22, 2018
(WHATCOM COUNTY, WA.) – The summer hiking season is kicking off near Mount Baker and thus it is a fine thing that crews from the Wash. State Dept. of Transportation (WSDOT) have opened the gate to the “seasonal section” of State Route 542 near Glacier, in Whatcom County.
CLICK TO ENLARGE: Road clearing at Artist point. Photo: WSDOT
That occurred at noon on Thursday of this week. Three weeks of hard work plus a few days of blue skies and soft snow helped the crews clear the 2.7-mile seasonally closed section of State Route 542, known as the road to Artist Point, faster than usual.
WSDOT crews started clearing the highway on Wednesday, May 30 and worked fingers to bone (possibly) during 10-hour days and five days a week using a large snow blower and two loaders to push and blow snow off the road and the Artist Point parking lot.
When the highway is open, an average of 660 vehicles a day move past the gate to Artist Point where visitors can hike, camp or take in the view.
Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest officials says more than 38,000 people visited their Glacier Public Service Center in 2017 to prepare for outdoor adventures by getting required permits and checking weather conditions. The summer visitors helps boost the economy in the small towns along Mount Baker Highway.
The final 2.7-mile section of the overall 57.24-mile highway was funded by state legislators and opened in 1931 to provide additional recreational access within the state.
It costs about $35,000 to clear this stretch each year and it is usually open between July and October. Crews will close the gate again when conditions on the steep and winding highway become unsafe.