Lack of snow again closes Turnagain Pass to snowmachines

Devin Kelly

Bad news for snowmachiners: For the third time this winter, a lack of snow has prompted officials to close Turnagain Pass to motorized vehicles.

The closure went into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday. A mix of above-freezing temperatures and rainy weather have whittled away the snowpack, and bare ground is visible in the pass at 1,000 feet, said Graham Predeger, recreation operations manager for the Glacier Ranger district. He said the goal is to prevent resource damage, and the closure has nothing to do with avalanche conditions.

It's yet another sign of what has been an unseasonably warm winter in Alaska.

In a normal year, Predeger said, Turnagain Pass opens to motorized vehicles in mid-December and stays open until Memorial Day. That was the case in 2012 and 2013.

"It's a very unusual season as far as motorized areas go, having to open and close areas several times in a season," Predeger said.

Those seeking snow may want to think about heading north. More than a foot of snow fell in areas like Hatchers Pass, Petersville and Denali State Park on Wednesday.

Reach Devin Kelly at or 257-4314.