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Travelers encounter winter conditions

Chains on carMCKENZIE BRIDGE: High-way 242, the Old McKenzie Pass was closed for the winter last Saturday at 5:30 pm. Hwy. 242 has closed. Oregon Dept. of Transportation crews locked the snow gates between White Branch (milepost 61) and the junction with U.S. 20 at Sisters, due to severe winter conditions.

Another scenic route, the Aufderheide Memorial Drive between Blue River and Westfir was clear on Tuesday, however, USFS officials report it is very hard to keep up to date on its condition. Box Canyon is at 3600 feet, so during the fall seasons it can get snow where the rest of the road is clear. Crews do not maintain it for winter travel. “Open,” then really means free of debris and snow and “Closed” means it has become impassable. During the fall season, it will switch back and forth – a light rain in town might “Close” it due to snow but then it “Opens” after a few days of sun. Current conditions are posted at:

People can check online when the ranger district offices aren’t open, but that they should call during the week. Travelers should be prepared for changing conditions that will be critical to their safety, as well as being aware there is no cell service on much of that route.

In other higher elevation areas Oregon’s Sno-Park program helps provide snow removal at about 100 winter recreation parking areas (Sno-Parks) across the state. Sno-Parks are in most of Oregon’s mountain passes and in most ski, snowmobile, and snow play areas. A list of areas designated as a Sno-Park is available at under “Travel Center.”

Motorists who park in a Sno-Park from November 1st through April 30th need a valid Sno-Park permit displayed in their vehicle near the lower left corner of the windshield. Parking in a Sno-Park without a permit may result in a fine.

ODOT offers three types of permits: a $25 seasonal permit; a $9 three-day permit good for three consecutive days; and a $4 daily permit.

Permits are sold at all DMV offices and by permit vendors at winter resorts, sporting goods stores and other retail outlets. Permit vendors may charge an additional service fee. A list of permit vendors is available at under “Travel Center.”

Image above: People traveling on roads crossing the Oregon Cascades this weekend found it was a good idea to have tire chains in their trunks. One route, Hwy. 242, was closed to winter traffic on November 2nd.


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