Driving Through Glacier This Summer
Driving Glacier's Going-to-the-Sun Road is a great experience, one just about everyone who visits the park does. After all, it is the only road that crosses the park's interior completely.
But even if that wasn't the case, this is a road worth touring. As it climbs up to Logan Pass, the views are increasingly spectacular as you chug higher and higher towards the roof of the Crown of the Continent.
Now, beginning this summer, and continuing on for the next, oh, eight to ten years, this ride could be a bit slower than you might have enjoyed in the past. The reason for the slowdown is the "Rehabilitation" of the Sun Road (aka, the rebuilding of it) is scheduled to begin in earnest this summer. And this work is dearly needed. It's been decades since the road was first constructed and, frankly, over the years traffic, land slides, avalanches, floods, and the elements have taken quite a toll on the pavement.
Now, since there are no alternative routes for folks to take, short of heading out the park and driving U.S. 2 between West Glacier and East Glacier, park officials plan to have motorists and contractors share the road. And they're hoping to make this as painless as possible.
"During the core summer season (mid-June to mid-September) there will be only temporary delays for a trip across the entire 50-mile road," says Superintendent Mick Holm, who defines "temporary delays" as "several short delays totaling a maximum of 30 minutes."
Here's the fine print: That schedule pertains to the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, all day Saturday, and until 10 p.m. Sunday. Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday there could be delays of up to four hours.
Outside of the peak summer season, Holm says contractors will be given priority and that public access could be restricted or limited through the work zones. The plan, though, is to keep Logan Pass accessible at least from one of the two sides.
A bonus of this long-term project is that the park will provide free shuttles along the Sun Road (once you pay to get into the park). The new Apgar Transit Center is scheduled to open this July, and interpretive wayside exhibits will be in place along the road this summer, as well.
Park officials also plan to implement communications that will alert you to real-time traffic conditions as well as shuttle locations.