State Route 20 re-opened Thursday morning between milepost 134 near Diablo and milepost 177 west of Mazama after its annual winter closure.
It’s the North Cascades Highway’s earliest re-opening since 2015.
At the re-opening, residents honored Tootsie Clark, who died in 2017 and was known for greeting travelers on re-opening day with a cinnamon roll. Clark's granddaughter Jurene Brooks carried Clark's red jacket as residents and officials pushed open the gate.
When crews evaluated the roadway at the end of March, they found less snow on the passes than last year and estimated clearing would take between four and six weeks.
During the clearing process crews caused controlled snow slides to clear chutes above the road, repaved, repaired guardrails, and cleared debris in ditches that channel melting snow.
Since the North Cascades Highway went into service in 1972, it usually re-opens in early May. The earliest opening was March 10, 2005. Last year WSDOT began the clearing process March 26, and it opened May 11.