Spring Road Clearing

A yellow snowplow clears snow backed by a snow-covered mountain
A snow plow clears snow near the Devastated Area.
 

Learn and Explore

The 30-mile Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway traverses avalanche-prone slopes with up to 2,000 foot drops and can hold a snowpack up to 40 feet deep. Snow clearing operations usually begin in March or April and continues for about two months before the highway is entirely open.

Once a section of road is cleared, it remains closed to vehicles until the last layer of snow and ice melts and all road preparations (e.g. signs, shoulder grading) are complete. Once road preparations are completed, the section may open to vehicles. The park highway usually opens in increments. Once each section of road is cleared of snow, visitors can enjoy hiking or biking sections of the highway, before it opens to vehicles.

 

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Road Closure
Status as of 11/18/2022.
 

Road Clearing Operator Log

Log updates are posted when reports are received from road crew members during active road clearing operations. The latest update may not reflect the current status. The road crew works Monday through Thursday, 10 hours per day.

6/03/2022 - The 30-mile highway is open to through traffic.

5/26/2022 - The road crew punched through the last section of unplowed highway near Kings Creek yesterday. We will focus on cleaning up the shoulders today to improve conditions for hiking and biking. Next week we will continue to clean up the shoulder, install road signs, and complete other preparations for opening to vehicles, when conditions allow.

5/16/2022 - Park road crew is working on Juniper Lake Road this week to allow access for Dixie Fire repair. Butte Lake Road is open to vehicle access; the campground is scheduled to open 6/3. Caltrans is continuing to assist from the north and is nearing Summit Lake. Park staff are preparing the 10-mile section between Loomis Plaza and Devastated Area for opening to vehicles soon. Hikers and bikers can continue to use the cleared sections of the highway including 6 miles between Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and Lassen Peak parking area. Watch for fallen rocks, icy corners, and snow-covered shoulders.

5/9/2022 - An ongoing storm brought approximately 9 inches of new snow to the Lassen Peak area on Sunday. We cleared the new snow from the 7-mile section between the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and Lassen Peak today and will likely need to do so again tomorrow. Clear skies beginning Wednesday should make for excellent conditions to Hike and Bike cleared sections of the highway before they open to vehicles.

5/6/2022 - We ended the week at the Lassen Peak parking area, which is halfway cleared of snow. It snowed and rained most of the week and more snow is forecasted for the weekend. A vendor will be at the park next week to assist with repairs on the second blower. Once repaired, we'll use the second rotary blower to continue clearing from Devastated Area as well.

5/01/2022 - Highway cleared of snow between Southwest Entrance and Lake Helen and open to non-motorized traffic only. Vehicle access from Southwest Entrance is limited to the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center parking area.

4/30/2022 - Highway cleared of snow between Southwest Entrance and Emerald Lake and open to pedestrian traffic only. Vehicle access from Southwest entrance limited to Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center parking area.

4/7/2022 - We're ending the week at Emerald side hill (above Little Hot Springs Valley). We're hoping to have our snow blower for the south side back together Monday morning; CalTrans assisted us in the Southwest Area this week. We're also expecting the parts for the second rotary blower next week so we can continue clearing from the north side. CalTrans cleared up to Lost Creek Group Campground.

3/31/2022 - The one-mile section between the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and Sulphur Works is open to vehicles. This section may close temporarily in inclement weather. Road clearing is complete to Butte Lake and Warner Valley areas. Butte Lake Road remains closed to vehicles until the road dries out. The entire Warner Valley Area remains closed to all use for Dixie Fire rehabilitation and repair. Clearing work on Juniper Lake Road is on hold until staff are able to make repairs to the road such as replacing damaged culverts. Road crew will begin clearing in the Southwest Area again today.

3/25/2022 - Crews completed clearing to and through the Sulphur Works parking area. Staff were also able to clear all the way to Drakesbad due to shallow snow depths and also cleared just inside the gate to Juniper Lake Area. Another crew completed the initial pass to Butte Lake Campground. Parts for the second rotary blower at Manzanita Lake are expected to by the end of next week. Park crews will be able to work with CalTrans to continue clearing toward Devastated Area from the Manzanita Lake Area once the second blower is functioning again.

3/22/2022 - Caltrans cleared approximately 1-1/2 miles from Loomis Plaza in the Manzanita Lake Area. Manzanita Lake Campground Road has a single lane cleared through all campground loops and to the Day Use Area. The park road crew is continue to repair the blower to join Caltrans in the Manzanita Lake Area. Crew members are completing minor repairs to a second blower in order to clean up the shoulder and parking area to and at Sulphur Works in the Southwest Area.

3/16/2022 - The road crew cleared snow between the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and Sulphur Works today. Snow depth is four feet or less in most areas, allowing us to reach pavement on our initial sweep.

3/15/2022 - Road clearing is on hold in the Manzanita Lake Area due to mechanical issues with one of two park snow blowers. Roads staff have been bulldozing snow off the Butte Lake dirt road and ended approximately 1/2 mile from the park boundary today. This dirt road usually takes at least a couple of weeks to melt completely and dry out prior to opening to traffic.

Change in Clearing Order
This year, the road crew completed clearing between the Southwest Entrance and Sulphur Works and then cleared Warner Valley Road and then Juniper Lake Road. Although usually cleared last, these two remote roads were cleared early this year to allow access for Dixie Fire repair and rehabilitation efforts.

 
 
Three stacked images showing snow on a highway, a couple on road flanked by snow, and a curving road cut into snow below a peak
Top: Winter road conditions at the Southwest Entrance, people walking on the park highway, a cleared section of highway below Lassen Peak.

When Will the Highway Open to Through Traffic?

Road crews begin clearing snow from the park highway in March or April, depending on snow depth and weather forecasts. It is not possible to predict when the highway will open to through traffic, because weather and other delays can affect the clearing process significantly. A chart below provides opening and closing dates of the park highway since 1980. The park may plow snow from Butte Lake, Warner Valley, or Juniper Lake roads, depending on the spring snow depth. The paved sections of Warner Valley and Juniper Lake roads are maintained by Plumas County and are usually not plowed.

Snow clearing operations occur in the following order:

  1. Manzanita Lake Area between Loomis Plaza and Devastated Area (10 miles).
  2. Southwest Area between Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and Lassen Peak (8 miles).
  3. Devastated Area to Lassen Peak (12 miles).
 
A bulldozer pushes deep snow off a slope below Emerald Lake on the park highway.
A bulldozer pushes snow off a steep slope below Emerald Lake on the park highway.

What's the Delay?

Clearing the park highway is no quick or easy undertaking! Snow accumulates on the 30-mile park highway throughout the winter season (typically November through April). Snow depth can reach up to 30 feet at the highest elevations, with drifts occasionally reach as high as 40 feet. The road clearing process can take up to three months due to numerous factors including:

  • Heavy snowpack with deeper snowdrifts in some areas

  • Trees and boulders 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 (and additional accumulation) during the operations

  • Snow removal in parking areas

  • Road and road shoulder repairs

  • Lingering ice once snow is cleared
  • Equipment repair
 
Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
Duration:
4 minutes, 27 seconds

See how park road crews clear snow from the park highway in a two-month long process each spring.

 

Spring Road Opening Dates - 1980 to Present

Year

Date plowing began from southwest

Date road opened

April 1 Snow Depth at Lake Helen (8,200' elevation)

Date road closed

1980 April 20 May 29 231" / 19.3' November 21
1981 April 20 May 21 149" / 12.5' November 3
1982 April 19 June 18 266" / 22.2' October 25
1983 April 18 July 2 331" / 27.6' November 10
1984 April 23 June 4 175" / 14.6' October 28
1985 April 14 May 18 163" / 13.6' October 21
1986 April 7 June 7 195" / 16.3' November 24
1987 April 20 May 15 138" / 11.6' November 13
1988 April 2 May 20 98" / 8.2' November 7
1989 April 3 June 6 223" / 18.6' October 23
1990 April 1 April 28 106" / 8.9' November 14
1991 April 7 May 24 151" / 12.6' October 22
1992 April 6 May 14 127" / 10.6' October 29
1993 April 12 June 28 225" / 18.8' November 10
1994 April 3 May 20 101" / 8.4' November 7
1995 March 19 July 21 287" / 23.9' November 21
1996 April 1 June 12 171" / 14.3' October 18
1997 April 7 June 5 135" / 11.3' November 14
1998 April 5 July 12 250" / 20.9' November 10
1999 April 12 June 11 194" / 16.2' November 19
2000 April 3 June 2 178" / 14.9' November 17
2001 April 2 May 10 109" / 9.1' November 15
2002 April 1 May 22 166" / 13.9' November 13
2003 March 26 May 23 185" / 15.5' November 7
2004 March 11 May 27 187" / 15.6' October 28
2005 April 4 June 2 173" / 14.5' November 8
2006 April 3 July 6 266" / 22.2' November 11
2007 April 2 May 18 112" / 9.3' December 6
2008 March 31 May 18 132" / 11' December 12
2009 April 13 June 4 146" / 12.2' November 18
2010 April 19 July 8 169" / 14.1' October 23
2011 April 19 July 16 242" / 20.2' November 22
2012 April 21 June 1 145" / 12.1' November 19
2013 March 21 May 24 140" / 11.7' December 18
2014 April 3 May 19 122" / 10.2' December 1
2015 March 31 May 3 91" / 7.6' November 8
2016 April 18 June 12 199" / 16.6' October 30
2017 April 4 July 26 243" / 20.3' November 10
2018 March 30 May 27 131" / 11' November 20
2019 April 18 June 22 238" / 19.8' November 29
2020 March 19 May 29 119" / 10' November 13
2021 April 5 May 17 114.5" / 9.5' October 21
2022 March 16 June 3 96" / 8' November 6

Last updated: November 23, 2022

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Mineral , CA 96063

Phone:

530 595-4480

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