June 13, 2008
Melissa Wilson, 406-888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – With the weather forecast for the next several days predicting seasonably warm weather with sunny or partly cloudy conditions, it is an excellent time to come and enjoy Glacier National Park’s springtime splendors. Though there is limited vehicular access on the Going-to-the-Sun (Sun) Road, the park’s free ranger-led interpretive programs, which begin this Sunday, June 15, or concession services will enhance your visit.
On the Sun Road, visitors may travel by vehicle east approximately 16 miles from West Glacier to Avalanche and 13 miles west from St. Mary to Jackson Glacier Overlook. In addition, hikers and bikers can travel almost six miles beyond the west side vehicle closure to Packer’s Roost. On Sunday, June 15, there will be no west side hiker/biker closure, and visitors can travel beyond Packer's Roost. On the east side, the hiker/biker closure is located just before Siyeh Bend, approximately two miles beyond the vehicle closure at Jackson Glacier Overlook. This east side hiker/biker closure is only in place Tuesday through Friday. The recent snow, combined with the warmer temperatures, increases avalanche danger and visitors should use caution when going beyond the vehicle gate closures.
All park valleys are open and offer a variety of recreational opportunities. To reach these destinations, visitors can travel on the following open park roads: the Camas Road, the Chief Mountain Road, the Cut Bank Road, the Many Glacier Road, the Two Medicine Road, the Quarter Circle Bridge Road, and the Inside North Fork from the Polebridge Ranger station south to Logging Creek and north to Kintla Lake, and the Bowman Lake Road. (Note- the Akokala Creek Bridge en route to Big Prairie and Kintla Lake has a total vehicle weight limit of ten tons.) The Inside North Fork Road from Fish Creek to Logging Creek remains closed to vehicles.
“While we are working to provide public access to the alpine section of the Sun Road as quickly as is safely possible, we do expect that it will be several weeks before the entire Sun Road is available,” said Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Dubois. “This year’s plowing efforts have been hampered by an above-average snowfall, a cool spring, and lingering snow in the alpine section. Our challenges were underscored by this week’s storm. It brought 16 inches of snow to the Loop, 24 inches to Road Camp, and 24 inches at Siyeh Bend. The high avalanche danger also created unsafe plowing conditions. The storm also brought down trees at lower elevations, and they have since been removed from park roads."
“It’s important that we don’t take for granted the amazing work that our plowing crews undertake each year to prepare for the alpine section’s opening. The crews clear snow that can be more than 100 feet deep from the road’s surface. They work in a precarious environment- the road is narrow, has steep drop-offs, and is intersected by more than 70 avalanche paths. We must be constantly vigilant to the conditions to ensure our crew's safety. Ultimately, when the dangers are too great, we will temporarily stop plowing efforts in the alpine section.”
“Additionally, once the crews have finished plowing, there is still additional work which must be performed to prepare for a safe alpine opening. This work includes installing guardrails and signs, sweeping rocks, repairing potholes, and clearing snow from the Logan Pass parking lot.”
“Even with the partial access on the Sun Road, there are so many positive aspects to this time of year at Glacier which will provide for a memorable vacation. This week’s snow has made our peaks even more picturesque. You can hike or bike some distance beyond the Sun Road’s gate closures, or take a scenic drive to some of the park’s beautiful valleys. It only takes about two hours to travel from West Glacier to St. Mary, on Highways 2 and 89, which border the park. Along the way, stop at Goat Lick Overlook, where you might spot one of Glacier's unofficial symbols. Participate in one of our ranger programs or, for an even broader range of possibilities, enjoy the services of the park concessioners.”
The Apgar Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and the St. Mary Visitor Center is open 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. These centers provide information and advice about the park. Free ranger-led interpretive programs begin Sunday, June 15. Programs range from guided walks to all day hikes to evening campfire talks. Specific program information can be obtained in the visitor centers or online at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/upload/explorer1.pdf.
All park concessioners are currently providing services throughout Glacier National Park. Glacier Park, Inc. operates tours aboard the refurbished historic red buses and Sun Tours features interpretive tours with a Blackfeet perspective. Guided day hikes and backpacking trips are available from Glacier Guides, Inc. Swan Mountain Outfitters is offering horseback rides from Lake McDonald, Apgar, and Many Glacier. Glacier Park Boat Company has boat tours at Lake McDonald, Many Glacier, and Rising Sun and will begin operations in Two Medicine on Monday, June 16; they also provide boat rentals in Apgar. Waterton InterNation Shoreline Cruise Co. offers tours of Waterton Lake with a landing at Goat Haunt. Glacier Park, Inc. also has lodging at Lake McDonald Lodge, Many Glacier Hotel, Rising Sun Motor Inn (beginning Sunday, June 15), and at the Village Inn. Several privately owned businesses are open and operating at Apgar, including Eddies Café and Grocery, Montana House Gifts, School Home Gifts, and Cedar Tree Gifts.
Full-service camping is available at Apgar, Avalanche, Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Sprague Creek, and Two Medicine campgrounds for $20/night and at Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake campgrounds for $15/night. Full service reservation camping is also offered at the Fish Creek and St. Mary campgrounds. The cost is $23/night. Sites at these two campgrounds may be reserved through the National Recreation Reservation Service website at www.recreation.gov, or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Campers without prior reservations are also welcome, if space is available, for $23/night. Primitive camping with no water provided is also available at Cut Bank Campground for $10 night. Visitors can verify the status of Glacier National Park’s campgrounds online at: http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/cgstatus/cgstatus.cfm.
Glacier National Park entrance rates are $25/single vehicle and $12/per person (hiker/biker/motorcyclist). An annual pass, good for unlimited entry to Glacier National Park for one year from the date of purchase, is $35. Even when the entrance stations are not staffed, entrance fees are still required. Follow the posted instructions to pay the entrance fee at the self-pay stations at each entrance.
Current road conditions are available on the park’s Web site at http://www.nps.gov/applications/glac/roadstatus/roadstatus.cfm. Road conditions are also available by calling 511, the Montana Department of Transportation Traveler Information System. If your phone does not support 511, call 1-800-226-7623. Both numbers are toll-free. Select “Glacier Park Tourist information” from the main menu to hear Glacier’s road report. Glacier’s automated telephone system, 406-888-7800, also provides road status information- select extension 2.
“Given the wide variety of activities, services, and camping options, there is plenty to see and do in Glacier,” concluded Dubois.
Additional park information can be found on Glacier National Park’s Web site (www.nps.gov/glac) or visitors can call 406-888-7800.
- NPS -