Road snow-removal crews have begun plowing operations on the south side of the Lassen Volcanic National Park as the annual digging out continues before visitors can enjoy all features of the alpine park.
The park highway is open to the Devastated Area on the north side of the park off of Highway 44 and to the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center on the south side of the park off of Highway 36, according to park officials.
Road crews anticipate having the park highway open to through traffic in late June. The park highway opens to through traffic once the final section between the Bumpass Hell thermal area and the Devastated Area is cleared and all ice has melted.
Issues that could delay the process include late snow storms, heavy snowpack such as fell this winter, trees that have fallen across the road and been buried in the snow, and rock slides that occur when the snow begins to melt.
The 30-mile park highway has some hairpin turns through steep grades. Park officials said it would be folly to try to clear roads during the winter because it would be near-impossible and dangerous for snow plow operators.
The highway has some steep stretches and can hold a snowpack of 40 feet. Clearing of the highway normally starts in April and can be opened as early as May 3, as in 2015, or as late as July 21, as in 1995.