Spring Road Clearing

 
2011 Road opening
Rotary plow at the southwest entrance

NPS Photo

Road Opening Process
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 road opening process may be delayed by late snow storms as well as other factors including:

  • Heavy snowpack with deeper snowdrifts in some areas
  • Trees that have fallen across the road and been buried in the snow
  • Rockslides over the highway when the snow begins to melt
  • Snow avalanches over cleared sections of the highway
  • Snow storms during the operations
  • Lingering ice once snow is cleared
2016 Road Clearing Operator's Log
Log updates are posted when reports are received from operators in the field. The latest update may not reflect the current status. The road crew works Monday through Thursday, 10 hours per day.

April 25 - Thursday, we were able to clear to about 500 feet short of Jones Cut (about 3 miles from the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center), today when we arrived it was snowing with very high winds and near zero visibility so I decided to call off the effort until tomorrow. If all goes well, I anticipate getting near to Bumpass Hell Parking Area (6 miles) by the end of next week.

May 3 - We have now reached the pullout at Emerald Lake and hope to be done with the Bumpass parking lot by tomorrow. A few minor breakdowns have slowed progress but we are still making good time. If all goes well, I would expect to be in the Lassen Peak parking area by the end of next week.

May 11 - We have now reached the peak parking area and should complete it by sometime tomorrow. The snow depth is a little deeper than I anticipated; about 14 feet!. All is going well and there will be an update next week.

 
Road clearing on Emerald side hill
Snow plowing below Emerald Lake

NPS Photo

Why Does the Highway Close in Winter?
When Will It Open For Summer?
The park highway encompasses 30 miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. To attempt road clearing throughout winter would be impossible and extremely hazardous for plow operators and drivers. The park highway traverse avalanche prone slopes with up to 2,000 foot drops and can hold a snowpack up to 40 feet deep. With the park's high elevation and exposed passes, ice and blowing snow would be a constant issue.

Clearing of the park highway usually begins in April and continues for about two months before the road opens to through traffic. Predicting when the road will open is not possible, even in late spring, because weather in April and May can affect plowing progress significantly. See the chart below for opening and closing dates since 1980.

 

Spring Road Opening Dates - 1980 to present

Year

Date plowing began from southwest

Date road opened

Date road closed

1980 April 20 May 29 November 21
1981 April 20 May 21 November 3
1982 April 19 June 18 October 25
1983 April 18 July 2 November 10
1984 April 23 June 4 October 28
1985 April 14 May 18 October 21
1986 April 7 June 7 November 24
1987 April 20 May 15 November 13
1988 April 2 May 20 November 7
1989 April 3 June 6 October 23
1990 April 1 April 28 November 14
1991 April 7 May 24 October 22
1992 April 6 May 14 October 29
1993 April 12 June 28 November 10
1994 April 3 May 20 November 7
1995 March 19 July 21 November 21
1996 April 1 June 12 October 18
1997 April 7 June 5 November 14
1998 April 5 July 12 November 10
1999 April 12 June 11 November 19
2000 April 3 June 2 November 17
2001 April 2 May 10 November 15
2002 April 1 May 22 November 13
2003 March 26 May 23 November 7
2004 March 11 May 27 October 28
2005 April 4 June 2 November 8
2006 April 3 July 6 November 11
2007 April 2 May 18 December 6
2008 March 31 May 18 December 12
2009 April 13 June 4 November 18
2010 April 19 July 8 October 23
2011 April 19 July 16 November 22
2012 April 21 June 1 November 19
2013 March 21 May 24 December 18
2014 April 3 May 19 December 1
2015 March 31 May 3 November 8
2016 April 18 June 12

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PO Box 100
Mineral, CA 96063

Phone:

(530) 595-4480
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