Park visitors have been occasionally been known to ignore warning signs and other sources of information, but anyone using the Cascade River Road in North Cascades National Park this coming weekend really needs to pay attention.
Bridge work will close part of the road for a month or more starting September 8, and any vehicles which haven't been removed from the area up the valley from the construction site will be there for the duration. That's likely to be for a month or more.
Work on the bridge actually began on Tuesday, September 1, but the road will reopen briefly to accommodate visitors for the holiday weekend. Here's what you need to know from a park announcement:
The Cascade River Road in North Cascades National Park will close to vehicular traffic at Hard Creek Bridge (MP 12.7) beginning on September 1, 2009. The road will be open September 5-7 during the holiday weekend. The road will be closed again on September 8 through project completion in mid-October. Any cars left up-valley of the construction will not be able to exit Cascade River Road until the project is complete.
Foot or bicycle traffic may be allowed, but may encounter delays and must obey direction provided by construction crews to ensure their safety through the construction zone. FHWA will be closing the road to accommodate bridge installation and permanent road repairs.
The Cascade River Road provides access to the Cascade Pass Trail, described as "the most popular day hike in the national park." The Cascade River Road leaves State Route 20 at Marblemount and extends for 23 miles to the trailhead—about an hour's drive. The road is paved for the first third of the way and then becomes gravel, with some narrow and steep sections near the end.
Sections of the road were damaged in a flood in 2006, and the park and Federal Highways staff have been scheduling repairs for the past couple of years during times that create the least inconvenience for visitors. Weather suitable for construction work is also a consideration, so this project was delayed until September, but can't wait any longer.
So...use the road if you have the chance this coming weekend. Just don't overextend your stay unless you want your vehicle to have an extended nap.