Hatcher Pass Road opens for summer, but with winter lingering

The road over Hatcher Pass, a 60-mile route between Palmer and Willow that’s slow but scenic, opened for the summer this week, although deep snow remains at higher elevations.

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities crews spent the last week digging out the road over the pass before opening it Tuesday evening, said Justin Shelby, a spokesman for the department. Photos of work last week show bulldozers clearing snow piled nearly as high as the equipment. The snow remained at about the same depth on Thursday, the department said.

The road is usually closed over the summit in September and reopens around this time of year, Shelby said. It’s a popular summer destination for hiking, biking, paragliding and other outdoor recreation.

The road winds through the Talkeetna Mountains in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Higher sections involve steep switchbacks that can develop deep ruts after heavy rains. About 22 miles of the road is gravel.

A number of vehicles made their way along the muddy road early Thursday afternoon and pedestrians walked near the pass overlook, where snow appeared to be melting fast. Up to two feet of snow lined the roadway, deeper in some places.

A recent landslide occurred below the road about a mile from the intersection with Gold Cord Road, which leads to Independence Mine State Historical Park. The landslide didn’t present an immediate safety threat or require repairs, although transportation officials are keeping an eye on it, Shelby said.

Crews cleared another popular destination on the Palmer side of the pass at Archangel Road, which reopened Thursday. The road accesses the popular Reed Lakes Trailhead.

Anchorage Daily News photojournalist Marc Lester contributed to this story.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at