Mountain Loop Highway Opened to Local Access
The Mountain Loop Highway has been opened to local access due to the closure of State Route 530 between the towns of Arlington and Darrington. The highway is closed in both directions from the massive landslide near Oso, Washington; approximately 13 miles west of Darrington. SR 530 is blocked indefinitely between Whitman Road (milepost 36) and 310 Street Northeast (milepost 39).
“The Mountain Loop Highway, between Granite Falls and Darrington, which usually does not open until mid-to late May, was plowed open to provide for alternate access to residents of Darrington and the surrounding area, and emergency support vehicles,” said Peter Forbes, Darrington District Ranger. “We strongly discourage recreationists, and those curious about the slide and recovery activities, to please avoid the area for safety reasons and to respect the intent of opening this route early, which is to provide alternate access to the community of Darrington. Recreation sites in this area also remain closed and inaccessible, includes the Big Four Ice Caves area, which is closed due to extreme avalanche conditions at this time of year,” said Forbes.
For those who need to travel on the Mountain Loop Highway, be prepared for winter travel conditions in a remote mountain area with limited cell phone service. Four wheel drive or high clearance vehicles are strongly recommended.
A 14-mile section of the route is a rough and narrow, one lane gravel Forest Service road with pullouts, and ice and snow conditions. Large vehicles may have difficulty negotiating the gravel section safely. This route has a 5 ton weight limit making is unsuitable for freight or heavy trucks which should use the State Route 20 to State Route 530 detour. Speed limits are reduced; travel time between Darrington and Granite Falls is approximately 1 hour 40 minutes.
To reach the Darrington Ranger Station and avoid the closure area, visitors are advised to use the detour route going east on Highway 20 and south on SR 530. The Darrington Ranger Station has normal operating hours of 8:00am-4:30pm, Monday through Friday. Current recreation condition reports and notices are available on the forest website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/mbs/.
Become aware of avalanche conditions and be prepared to recreate safely in winter conditions.
For information update on the slide rescue and recovery efforts go to: http://snohomishcountywa.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=167 or