Artist point

Artist Point

MOUNT BAKER — The wait is over for people planning to visit one of the Pacific Northwest’s most scenic viewpoints. At 8 a.m. Sunday, June 9, Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews opened the seasonal section of State Route 542, known as the road to Artist Point.

A stretch of sunny weather and a smaller-than-usual snowpack helped crews clear the 2.7-mile section of highway in just 12 days, nearly half the time of last year’s clearing. This is the second-earliest opening date in the last 20 years.

WSDOT crews started their work May 28. Crews worked 10-hour days and used a large snow blower and two loaders to push and blow snow off the road and the Artist Point parking lot.

However, people visiting Artist Point should expect to encounter snow-covered trails and it’s advised to research current conditions before departing for the viewpoint.

Then the highway is open, an average of 660 vehicles a day travel to Artist Point. From there, visitors can hike, camp or take in the view.

The Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest says close to 40,000 people visit its Glacier Public Service Center throughout the year to get required permits and check weather conditions ahead of their outdoor adventures. Summer visitors help boost the economies of the small towns along Mount Baker Highway.

WSDOT crews will close the gate again this fall when conditions on the steep and winding highway become unsafe.