April 30, 2009
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt
, 406 888-5838
WEST GLACIER, Mont. – After a week of snowstorms and drifting that caused the temporary closure of all east side roads at Glacier National Park, the snow has stopped and today the east side park staff are plowing roads and clearing access to buildings.
Between April 23 and April 29, four feet of snow fell at St. Mary. Most of that snow fell April 23, 26 and 29, respectively. Snow stopped falling at St. Mary late Wednesday afternoon. Today (Thursday) the Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) reopened for vehicle access as far as Rising Sun, a distance of six miles. Other sections of road on the park’s east side will be plowed and reopened as soon as conditions permit. Due to settling, the current snow pack at St. Mary is 16 inches; drifts are considerably higher.
West of the Continental Divide, snow fell in the mountains above 3,500 feet, but no new snow accumulated on low elevation park roads.
On Saturday morning, May 2nd the west side of the Sun Road will open for vehicle access as far as Avalanche Creek a distance of 16 miles from West Glacier. The west side is currently open for vehicle access a total of 10 miles from West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge.
Parking will be limited to the Avalanche Campground for day use only; reconstruction work continues at the Avalanche area. Hikers and bicyclists will be permitted through the construction zone to access the Sun Road above Avalanche Creek. Weather permitting; paving of the main Sun Road (between the Avalanche picnic area and the entry to the campground) will be completed by Saturday. If not, traffic control will be provided at Avalanche as necessary until that paving is completed.
With recent snowfall, and predicted warming weather, park visitors should be very alert for spring avalanche activity in the upper elevation portions of the Sun Road where travel is not advised until conditions stabilize.
In addition to portions of the Sun Road, the Inside North Fork Road is also open for vehicle access between Polebridge and Big Prairie. All other park roads remain closed to vehicles due to snow. Hikers and bicyclists are welcome on closed park roads as conditions permit. Recreational users are reminded that pets are NOT allowed on park roads when roads are used as trails.
Visitors often enjoy hiking and/or bicycling on the Sun Road beyond vehicle gates. There are no hiker/bicycle closures on the Sun Road when crews are not working; however, snow and ice may be encountered on the roadway beyond the Avalanche area. Hikers and bicyclists also need to watch for heavy equipment operating on the Sun Road.
Glacier National Park remains open year round for various recreational opportunities, but weather and snow conditions dictate when park roads are open for vehicle access.
Beginning May 1, the Apgar Visitor Center will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can also stop at park headquarters in West Glacier for information. Headquarters is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visitors can also phone 406-888-7800 for general park information, including the specific location of hiker/bicycle closures.
Current 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 1-800-226-7623. Both numbers are toll-free. Select “Glacier Park Tourist Information” from the main menu to hear Glacier’s road report.
Current road conditions are also available online at: http://www.nps.gov/applications/glac/roadstatus/roadstatus.cfm. The information is updated as conditions change.
- NPS -