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Amidst New Snowfall, Plowing of Big Drift Continues; Weather Permitting, West Side Sun Road May Open for Vehicles to Big Bend on Friday or Saturday

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Date: June 17, 2010
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406 888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof, 406 888-7895

UPDATE (as of 4:30pm, June 17):  As of late afternoon on Thursday, June 17, park plow operators report an additional six inches of new snow accumulated between Triple Arches and Logan Pass throughout the day. More snow and precipitation is forecast overnight and into Friday. Given weather uncertainties, the earliest the west side Sun Road may open to Big Bend will be mid- to late afternoon on Friday, June 18 or possibly on Saturday, June 19.



Further updates will be announced as information becomes available.



WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park officials announce that visitors should be able to travel to Big Bend on the west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) this weekend, weather and road conditions permitting. Work to open the Logan Pass area has been slowed by weather and additional snow accumulation in recent weeks. This week alone, the park has received substantial precipitation, including a fresh two-inch layer of snow at Logan Pass Thursday morning. Motor vehicles can currently travel to the Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side of Sun Road and to Avalanche Campground on the west side.



Based on safety concerns because road crew personnel will be working in the Logan Pass areas over the weekend, Glacier superintendent Chas Cartwright has directed that no public access will be allowed beyond vehicles barricades until further notice.



Cartwright emphasized, “Weather and road conditions determine when the entire National Historic Landmark Going-to-the-Sun Road actually opens across Logan Pass for vehicle use. We hope to have the entire road open soon, but we cannot predict the actual date at this time.” He added, “Friday, June 18 is the earliest possible date this year that the entire Sun Road could open to through traffic across Logan Pass because of the 2003 Sun Road Rehabilitation Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement compromise that provides contractors access for spring road rehabilitation.”  



According to Cartwright, the Logan Pass Visitor Center remains inaccessible due to a substantial snow drift and the parking lot is surrounded by 10-to 20-foot walls of snow. This weekend, NPS personnel will work to dig out the Logan Pass area and continue plowing the 40-50-foot ‘Big Drift’ that occurs every year about a quarter-mile east of Logan Pass. Once plows clear the Big Drift down to the roadway, any ice on the pavement must be allowed to melt out before vehicle access is allowed. Cartwright said, “If the weather improves, and if there are no unanticipated obstacles, we hope to be able to open the entire road in the coming week.”



While weather is slowing attempts to open the alpine portion of the Sun Road, contractors working on the Sun Road rehabilitation project report they have finished all planned spring road work. Contractors completed road stabilization work between Avalanche Campground and the West Tunnel and finalized rehabilitation work between Crystal Point and Haystack. In addition, an asphalt overlay was placed on the stretch of Sun Road between the Apgar Transit Center intersection and Avalanche Campground.



As the summer Solstice nears, the summer season is virtually in full swing at Glacier National Park. Free ranger-led interpretive programs are now offered daily throughout the park. Schedules for all events are available at visitor centers and ranger stations. As of Friday, June 18 all activities and concession services - except for the Granite Park and Sperry Chalets and the Jammer Joe’s Restaurant - are open for the season throughout the park as well. The Sun Road shuttle system begins operation on Thursday, July 1 and runs through Labor Day (September 6).



Frontcountry camping is available at Apgar, Avalanche, Bowman Lake, Fish Creek, Kintla Lake, Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Sprague Creek, St. Mary and Two Medicine. Primitive camping, with no water provided, is also available at Cut Bank. Beginning July 1, primitive camping will also be available at Logging Creek and Quartz Creek campgrounds.



The entrance fee for a seven-day single vehicle entry to Glacier National Park is $25 and the fee is $12 for a single entrant (a biker, walker, or motorcyclist). An annual pass, valid for unlimited entry to Glacier for one year from the date of purchase, is $35.



Current park road status is available at: http://www.nps.gov/applications/glac/roadstatus/roadstatus.cfm. Information is updated as conditions change. Visitors can also phone 406-888-7800 for general park information, including the specific location of hiker/bicycle closures. Road conditions for Glacier National Park are available by calling 511, the Montana Department of Transportation Traveler Information System. If a phone does not support 511, call 800-226-7623. Both numbers are toll-free. Select “Glacier Park Tourist Information” (option # 5) from the menu to hear Glacier’s road report.



For further information on Glacier National Park, visit the park’s Web site at http://www.nps.gov/glac.



- NPS -

Did You Know?

Grizzly bears

Grizzly bears in the park have a wide variety of food sources, including glacier lily bulbs, insects, and berries. They may also make an early season meal of mountain goats that were swept down in avalanches over the winter.