Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park Should Be Fully Open Today

The rigs might be different today, but the snowbanks along the Going-to-the-Sun Road could be just as high as those from yesteryear when the road opens today. NPS photo.

Barring any unforeseen snowstorms, avalanches, or any other unexpected events, you should be able to drive end-to-end on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park this afternoon.

Park officials announced Wednesday afternoon that the 50-mile-long Sun Road, which crosses the park's interior east-to-west and connects West Glacier with St. Mary, should be free of snow and ready for traffic across Logan Pass by mid-day today (June 24). If that actually happens, it will mark the earliest opening of Logan Pass since 2006, when it was ready for traffic on June 23.

When the road does open, park officials are urging motorists and hikers to use particular caution in the Logan Pass area as there are up to 10-foot-tall snow banks, and many trails heading out from the pass are still snow covered.

There is currently no potable water available at Logan Pass. Due to concrete work at the visitor center, portable toilets will be provided for visitor use. Once the road opens, the Logan Pass Visitor Center with its Glacier Association bookstore will be open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The popular Highline Trail is currently closed from Logan Pass to the Haystack Butte saddle; it is projected to open for the season on the
weekend of July 10 after snow hazards are ‘treaded’ by park personnel and volunteers.

While the snow might be gone, that doesn't mean there won't be impediments to driving this gorgeous roadway. Ongoing road rehabilitation will occur on two sections of the Sun Road this summer, and that means construction delays.

In addition to the 2010 work already scheduled and funded through the Federal Highway Administration between Big Bend and Logan Pass, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds are supporting additional work between Logan Pass and Siyeh Bend (also administered by the FWHA) for a second phase of rehabilitation work to occur simultaneously, say park officials. Visitors should plan for short delays of a maximum of 40 minutes for a one-way trip across the entire Sun Road.

HK Contractors, Inc., now has day and night-shifts working at both works zones between Big Bend and Logan Pass and between Siyeh Bend and Logan Pass. Night work during this summer is scheduled for Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. on the west side of the Continental Divide. No passage will be allowed through the construction zone during the entire 10-hour night shift.

The Sun Road on the east side of the Divide will have the same nighttime restrictions, but there will be one short, 15-minute window for passage through the construction zone at 2 a.m. Otherwise, no access is allowed through the work zones during night work. There is no night work scheduled for Friday through Sunday. Sun Road rehabilitation information is available at http://www.wfl.fhwa.dot.gov/projects/gtsr/.

Elsewhere in the park, heavy rainfall this past Monday prompted the temporary closure of the Inside North Fork Road between Logging Creek and Fish Creek due to flooding. All other park roads are open to motorized vehicle travel, the park reports. Logging Creek and
Quartz Creek campgrounds are scheduled to open July 1. Granite Park Chalet opens Tuesday, June 29 and Sperry Chalet opens Wednesday, July 7.

The park’s free, optional Sun Road shuttle service will begin operating to locations along the Sun Road and Apgar Village for the summer on Thursday, July 1 and continue operations through Labor Day, Monday, September 6. This free, step-on-step-off, no frills shuttle provides an alternative for visitors traveling the Sun Road. Started in July 2007, the shuttle system is part of Glacier’s program to minimize impacts on visitors throughout the multi-year Sun Road rehabilitation. The transit service provides an alternative mode of transportation for those who don’t mind leaving their vehicles behind. The last evening buses depart Logan Pass for points east and west at 7:15 p.m.

This option is available in addition to popular guided tours by Sun Tours from a Blackfeet perspective (800-786-9220 or 406-226-9220 or www.glaciersuntours.com) and aboard the historic red buses with Glacier Park, Inc. (406-892-2525 or www.glacierparkinc.com).

For current information on park roads and weather conditions, and visitor services throughout the park, visit Glacier's website www.nps.gov/glac, dial 511 anywhere in Montana (select option 5) or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

Comments

This is the road that I told you about....Ann and I have been across twice....most impressive thing to me is no guard rails.....

I bumped into your blog and read with interest. I can't imagine pumping out portable toilets in this location - we have trouble enough in the English countryside where we certainly don’t have to cope with 15 foot snow banks. A good read by the way.

As they say, nothing worthwhile is ever easily attained!