Work Continues to Prepare West Side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Contact: Melissa Wilson, 406 888 7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Officials at Glacier National Park report that crews are completing snow removal in the alpine section of the Going-to-the-Sun (Sun) Road and are currently removing debris and repairing areas damaged by last November’s storm and recent heavy rain on the west side of the Sun Road. Given the amount of work that remains, it is still too early to project any opening for the west side of the road to Logan Pass.
“While we are nearing completion of snow removal in the alpine section, we still have much labor-intensive work ahead of us before we can plan to open to Logan Pass from the west side,” commented Superintendent Mick Holm.
“Much attention has been given to the washouts on the east side of the road, but the west side was also impacted by last November’s storm. There is significant debris distributed throughout the alpine section. While much of this debris can be removed with equipment, some must be removed with hand tools, making the removal process very labor intensive. We also must repair some of the road near Oberlin Bend which experienced serious shoulder erosion and damage to the water drainage system below the road. Unfortunately, crews will need both lanes to accomplish this work, so one-way traffic is not an option. Jersey barriers must also be placed in several locations along the road where we lost some road shoulder.”
“Last week’s rain further complicated our work. It caused a significant washout and retaining wall damage occurred at Rimrock which must be repaired or stabilized prior to opening from the west side.”
Additionally, as is true each year, crews must also complete traditional road preparation work. Most of this work has not yet been done. This work includes installing guardrails and signage, repairing potholes, clearing culverts, sweeping the road, clearing parking lots and facility preparation. “Just the installation of the avalanche resistant guardrails at Haystack and Triple Arches takes about three days to complete.”
Despite the alpine section’s closure, visitors to the park can still travel 15.5 miles from the West Entrance to Avalanche and 13.5 miles from St. Mary to Jackson Glacier Overlook. Further, again this weekend (June 9 and June 10) hikers and bikers will be allowed unlimited access beyond the west-side vehicle closure at Avalanche on these days. However, due to storm damage, no hiker/biker access is allowed on the east-side beyond Jackson Glacier Overlook.
Other park roads are open for vehicular travel including the Camas Road, the Many Glacier Road, the Two Medicine Road, and the Cut Bank Road. The Inside North Fork Road is open from the Polebridge Ranger Station to Logging Creek.
Current area closures include: Mt. Henkel and Mt. Altyn south aspect, the south end of St. Mary Lake, the head of Logging Lake, and eastern side of the Inside North Fork Road between Logging Creek and Anaconda Creek. The head of Kintla Lake is also closed to boat traffic. These areas are all closed due to wildlife protection. Trail closures include: the Upper McDonald Horse Bridge due to flooding and the Autumn Creek Trail due to bears. Closures can change at any time and visitor centers will have the most current information.
Additional park facilities and concession activities are also available. Avalanche campground opened today, June 8, as did the Many Glacier Hotel. Boat tours in Many Glacier also began today. Glacier Institute classes are offered throughout the summer, including options for this weekend.
Visitor centers in Apgar and St. Mary are open daily. Glacier Natural History Association bookstores are also available in each of these visitor centers as well as at the train depot in West Glacier.
“With fewer visitors, comfortable temperatures, and wildflowers in bloom, including beargrass, now is an enjoyable time to come and visit Glacier,” concluded Holm.
Did You Know?
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in the park with a length of 10 miles and a depth of 472 feet. The glacier that carved the Lake McDonald valley is estimated to have been around 2,200 feet thick.