'Sun Road' In Glacier National Park Set To Open Wednesday
Barring any unexpected snow storms, you'll be able to drive the full 50 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park beginning Wednesday.
And when the opening day does arrive, it will mark the latest opening in the park's history (outside of the formal opening of the road back in July 1933, when it was dedicated on July 15).
"It is the latest opening in history. July 10, during World War II, was our actual latest," park spokeswoman Ellen Blickhan said the other day. ""They did have a big snowpack, but they also didn't have a big staff to plow. Our second-latest opening was in 2008, July 2, which was due to snow."
In Glacier this year, as in much of the Rockies, snow continued to fall at high
elevations well into June, according to park officials. "A flyover of the Big Drift, on June 4th, revealed a snowpack that looked more like April than June. On July 6th the superintendent and chief of facility management visited Logan Pass and stood on The Big Drift roughly 30 feet above asphalt," a park release said.
“Plowing this road is a dangerous job and the safety of our staff is of paramount concern. We are very proud of the hard work the road crew performed this year,” Superintendent Chas Cartwright said last week when the July 13 opening was announced.
For those visitors who manage to visit Logan Pass in the near future, they'll discover a snow-covered landscape. "All of the trails in the area are still covered with many feet of snow. Visitors should exercise caution when hiking on snow and be aware of unseen holes and snow bridges that exist," a park release said. "The Highline Trail remains closed at this time and there is no current projection of an opening date."
With access returning to Logan Pass, contractors will resume work on new restroom facilities at the visitor center there. Areas around the construction will be closed to public entry. Portable toilets will be available but there will be no potable drinking water at Logan Pass. Staff will be on duty to assist visitors and to direct people to areas open for recreation.
And with summer finally arriving in the park's high country, work will resume on rebuilding the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Road rehabilitation work on lower sections of the Going-to-the-Sun Road will create some short traffic delays. From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. travelers should expect delays of up to 20 minutes at each construction site, for a total of no more than a 40-minute delay between Big Bend and Siyeh Bend.
On the west side of the park, a night closure will be in effect Monday evening through Friday morning, between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., from The Loop to Logan Pass. There will be a 15-20 minute window for passage through the construction at 2:00 a.m., allowing travel to and from Logan Pass. There are no night closures east of Logan Pass.
With the opening of the entire length of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the park’s free shuttle system will expand service to Logan. The shuttle system stops in 16 different areas along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and runs from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Shuttle passengers should catch the bus at either the St. Mary Visitor Center or the Apgar Transit Center as parking is extremely limited at Logan Pass, Avalanche Creek and Sunrift Gorge.
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.