On Saturday, December 10, 2011, we drove Washington State Route 165, from the Mountain to town. Thanks to an inversion layer the past few days, much of the snow has melted...
State route No. 165:
A state highway to be known as state route number 165 is established as follows:
Beginning at the northwest entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park, thence northerly to a junction with state route number 410 at Buckley.
So here we are at the boundary of Mount Rainier National Park at the Mowich Lake entrance, where SR 165 begins. It's a dirt road. It's the only state highway in Washington that's still gravel. We should feel thankful it's the only one! The national park closed the gate a month ago, but that's most of a mile up the hill behind us here. It's time to crank up the Christmas music and hit the road -- but watch out for potholes, ice sheets, deep snow, and oncoming traffic!
The clouds roll up the hillside, fog wrapping the trees. After ten miles or so, the pavement begins. A mile after that, we meet the Carbon River Road, which goes to the real northwest entrance of the national park, whereupon we get a yellow line down the middle of the road. Fancy! Cross the one-lane Fairfax Bridge and continue down the valley. Zip by Carbonado, slow down for old-railroad-town Wilkeson, and be surprised by the community of Burnett. Up a little hill and you're at the junction pictured above, where SR 165 meets SR 162. Familiar? Turn right to stay on 165.
After a bend, we're on the Buckley Straight, paralleling the old railroad route into Buckley. A mile and a bit later, we turn left off the straight, cross the Foothills Trail (old railroad grade), and are quickly at the junction with SR 410. Highway 165 is at an end. This road seems very busy compared to where we were, just a half hour ago...
Next time there's clear weather, I suggest you head up Highway 165 for some lovely views of the Mountain. If you don't have a high-clearance vehicle or don't want to clean the bottom of your car with snow and ice, you might want to wait six months or so and let it melt out. I have a feeling it will get deeper before then, though.