High mountain passes still buried in snow

May 19, 2023, 5:09 PM | Updated: 8:03 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — A year ago, UDOT plow crews were busy clearing high mountain passes of snow in preparation for Memorial Day. This year, there’s still too much snow on those roads. Right now, there’s no estimated date for when those seasonal passes will open.

At the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, the road to Guardsman Pass remains gated and buried under seven feet of snow.

“Right now, because of the record snowfall, there’s still 25 feet of snow in certain areas,” John Gleason, UDOT Communications Director said.

On the last switchback before the pass, there’s still as much as 30 feet of snow on the road, he said. That’s where we caught up with the crews that were plowing to get the pass open a year ago.

It’s the same story on Mirror Lake Highway, Monte Cristo Pass, East Canyon, and Wolf Creek Pass.

“For all of our seasonal routes, right now, we don’t have any of them open,” Gleason said. “Typically we’ll try to open them around Memorial Day weekend holiday because people like to get up there and enjoy themselves, camp, or just drive through.”

Besides, those plow drivers are busy with more important jobs right now.

“The same crews that are responsible for clearing those seasonal passes are the ones that are doing the flood mitigation right now,” Gleason said. “So, we’re really prioritizing the work.”

Those seasonal roads are important, and UDOT will eventually get them cleared, but flood mitigation is a bigger priority right now.

Gary Dastrup was gearing up to take the trail over the ridge to Mill Creek Canyon.

“It’s just another excuse to play in the snow when it’s May,” he said. “Usually, this time of year you can ride your bike over there. I knew there was no bike riding, so we got the snow shoes.”

Most years by mid-May, Dastrup said he would be mountain biking, not snowshoeing. But he’s excited for his afternoon adventure.

“For me, I’m not in a hurry for it to go,” he said about the snow. “I was actually bummed that it stopped snowing.“

UDOT was not. For them, plowing a corridor through snow drifts 20 feet deep is not practical in terms of time or money.

“Because of the record snowfall, and all of the plowing that we’ve been doing, and now, all of the flood mitigation, our maintenance budget is… We really have to prioritize the work, and do those things that are critical to safety,” Gleason said.

UDOT spent $41 million on plowing this year instead of the $26 million that was allotted.

“It was a very challenging, demanding year for our crews, and we still haven’t hit the end of it yet,” Gleason said.

So, UDOT will wait and let the solar power of the sun do the first part of the job.

“We’re going to continue to look at it and see how quickly the snow melts off, and when we can I get our crews up there to clear it.“

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Dozens gathered at the steps of the Utah Capitol on Saturday in support of Ukraine on the second of...

Brianna Chavez

Dozens gather in support of Ukraine two years since Russia’s invasion

Dozens gathered at the steps of the Utah Capitol on Saturday in support of Ukraine on the second of anniversary of Russia's invasion.

3 hours ago

FILE - The Utah Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023. A Utah legislative committee voted not to advanc...

Daniel Woodruff

Utah lawmaker’s push to regulate short-term rentals falls short

A Utah legislative committee voted not to advance a bill that would have imposed regulations on short-term rentals in the state.

4 hours ago

Juan and Rosa Mercado attend a news conference in Salt Lake City on Sept. 16, 2019. A judge has dec...

Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com

Judge declines to throw out suit against Ogden police officers who shot, killed knife-wielding man

A U.S. district judge has declined to dismiss a case brought against the city of Ogden and a group of police officers by the parents of a pocketknife-wielding man who was shot and killed by police in 2019.

4 hours ago

emergency lights...

Mark Jones

17-year-old ‘not expected to survive’ following a motorcycle crash

A 17-year-old male is not expected to survive after his motorcycle struck a vehicle on Saturday afternoon, according to the Lehi City Police Department. 

5 hours ago

A trip to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines quickly became personnel for...

Dan Rascon

Members of Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square pay respects to fallen US soldiers in the Philippines

Members of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square visited the largest American cemetery outside of the United States, making it a tender and special day for all.

7 hours ago

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs for the first time in the Philippines in the grand b...

Dan Rascon

Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs for first time in the Philippines

History was made for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square as it performed its very first concert ever in the Philippines.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

High mountain passes still buried in snow