Intensive Flood Damage Repairs this Fall on the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406 888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – The 2007 summer season at Glacier National Park has been highly successful- with an increase in visitation and the launch of a popular Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) shuttle system. Now officials are taking steps to ensure an equally successful 2008 season.
“Our crews and contractors did an amazing job to prepare the road for this summer’s opening. However, their work did not completely repair the damage to the Sun Road caused by last November’s storm. The Federal Highway Administration has just completed the designs for permanently repairing the damage on the east side of the Sun Road. Their plans dictate that they remove the temporary bridge and then begin permanent repair work early this fall,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Mick Holm.
Holm added, “It is imperative that further stabilization occur before heavy rain or snow accumulates to prevent more extensive damage to the road. The contractor, HK Contractors, Inc., is proposing to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will fill the east side washout at the bridge site with a mechanically-stabilized earthen wall. They will also continue west side rehabilitation work. By starting work in the middle of September, we are better positioning ourselves for next summer’s opening of the road.”
Given this need for unimpeded access to the alpine section of the Sun Road, Holm announced that the Sun Road will be closed to vehicle traffic from Avalanche to Siyeh Bend beginning 10 p.m. on Sept. 16. There will therefore be no access to Logan Pass after this date. The Logan Pass Visitor Center will close at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 15; a park ranger will be available in the parking area on Sept. 16. It is also envisioned that the contractor will use Sun Point for staging; therefore, it may not be available to visitors.
Visitors will be able to drive 15.5 miles on the Sun Road from West Glacier to Avalanche and 15.5 miles from St. Mary to Siyeh Bend. Hikers and bikers will be able to travel almost six miles beyond the vehicle closure at Avalanche to the Packers Roost Road; however, there is no additional hiker/biker access beyond Siyeh Bend.
The west side closure was previously scheduled and is part of the Sun Road’s multi-year rehabilitation (Phase VI). The east side closure stems from the unique circumstances created by last November’s storm. In future years, park officials note that visitors will be able to access Logan Pass from one side of the park from mid-September until Nov. 1, weather permitting.
Officials remind visitors that Glacier National Park is open year-round and recreational opportunities exist throughout the park beyond Sept. 16. Fall visitors to Glacier are rewarded with fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and changing colors. Visitors can travel from between the east and west side of Glacier National Park by traveling on U.S. Highways 2 and 89.
“Many visitors equate Glacier National Park with the Going-to-the-Sun Road, yet there is so much more to see and do in Glacier than travel the road. In addition to exploring the areas near Lake McDonald and St. Mary, consider adding a visit to Many Glacier, Two Medicine, the North Fork, or Goat Haunt. You’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views, solitude, and perhaps some wildlife sightings,” Holm commented.
Many Glacier, north of St. Mary, has massive mountains, active glaciers, sparkling lakes, hiking trails, and abundant wildlife. A wide variety of hikes can be found in Many Glacier, including a day hike to Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint. Two Medicine, tucked in the southeast corner of the park, offers stunning scenery and impressive hikes. The North Fork, a rustic location in the northwest corner of the park, features open prairies and towering mountains. Access to the area is primitive, but visitors will find tranquil lakes perfect for kayaking and canoeing. Goat Haunt, in the northern portion of the park across from Waterton, is a tranquil and remote location. Most visitors access this unique location by historic boat from Waterton (boat tours which stop at Goat Haunt continue through Sept. 23) or by backcountry trails. A short hike to Kootenai Lakes may yield moose sightings.
With over 700 miles of maintained trails, visitors will find numerous gratifying trails outside the alpine section of the Sun Road. For trail maps and status, visit the park’s Hiking the Trails Web page at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/hikingthetrails.htm.
Several campgrounds remain open in the fall, though some switch to primitive (no water) status. Additional information about camping is available on the park’s Camping Website at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/camping.htm.
Many park concessioners continue to provide service beyond Sept. 16. Glacier Park, Inc. operates tours aboard the refurbished historic red buses through Sept. 29. Sun Tours offers interpretive tours featuring a Blackfeet perspective until Oct.15. Guided day hikes and backpack trips are available from Glacier Guides, Inc. into October. Glacier Park Boat Company offer boat tours of Lake McDonald until Sept. 22. Waterton International Shoreline Cruise Co. boats land at Goat Haunt through Sept. 23, and then they offer tours of Waterton Lake until Oct. 7. Lodging, food services and retail stores are available from Glacier Park, Inc. at Lake McDonald Lodge through Sept. 29 and at the Many Glacier Hotel through Sept. 23. Privately-owned lodging and other visitor services are available in the park at Apgar Village and in gateway communities.
For more information about Glacier National Park, visit the park’s Web site at www.nps.gov/glac or phone 406-888-7800.
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Did You Know?
Did you know that eight inches of snow fell during one night in Glacier's high country in August, 2005? The weather forced hundreds of backpackers out of the backcountry.