The Wyoming Department of Transportation has closed the Snowy Range Scenic Byway over the Snowies for the winter.
The road was first closed Oct. 20 “due to hazardous winter conditions, large snowdrifts, and poor visibility,” according to a press release from WYDOT, whose officials then decided this week to close the road for this season “after additional winter storms caused conditions to deteriorate further.”
The Oct. 20 closure date is two weeks earlier than any other year since at least 2010.
Last year, Highway 130 closed Nov. 3. In past years, the highway closed Nov. 13 in 2011, Dec. 7 in 2012, Nov. 4 in 2013, Nov. 15 in 2014, Nov. 11 in 2015, Nov. 28 in 2016, and Nov. 20 in 2017.
The current exact closure is between mile marker 48 above Ryan Park on the west and mile marker 36 near Green Rock on the east.
According to WYDOT’s press release, Highway 130 has a target opening date of Memorial Day weekend, and crews from Laramie and Saratoga will work to reopen the road in the spring.
Highway 130 tops out at more than 10,800 feet in elevation.
The Oct. 20 closure date came just five days after the start of rifle hunting season on the Snowy Range for elk and moose.
However, the closure shouldn’t have been too much of a burden for local hunters, since the same snow that’s causing the road closure in turn pushes elk down from the high country, noted Rep. Bill Haley, R-Centennial.
The retired game warden said that while Laramie hunters often use the byway to get to the Sierra Madres, they can still head that way via Woods Landing.
“Hunters are typically used to sudden road closures,” he said. “It’s not like they’re going to get caught off-guard.”