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Mountain Passes Open In Time For Memorial Day

David Koch

All but one of Wyoming’s mountain pass highways will be open for Memorial Day weekend.  The Wyoming Department of Transportation shuts down several of the state’s passes because of deep snow during winter months.  Maintenance engineer Tim McGary says it wasn't clear they would be able to get Snowy Range Pass between Centennial and Saratoga open in time.

“Most of the snow depths up there were between 120 and 140 percent of normal.  Initially, we didn’t know if we could make it by Memorial Day,” McGary says.  “And then we had those two pretty big snowstorms on top of everything.  That held us up.  But the guys managed to patch things back together and keep the equipment running.  We actually got done just a little bit early.”

He warns people to be cautious if they plan to drive them this weekend.  “The very first day or the day after the day you open it, you always have a whole bunch of people that want to take their kids up there to see the big snow banks.  It’s always a bit of a concern because there’s not very many places to park.  And you kind of have to keep moving, you can’t stop in the middle of the road, and those curves, a lot of them are pretty blind, especially with the big snow banks.” 

McGary also says to watch for melting snow on the road that freezes overnight. 

Snowy Range, Beartooth and Burgess Junction over the Bighorn Range are all now accessible to motorists.  Work on Battle Pass between Encampment and Baggs will begin next week.   

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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