• Mt Reynolds

    Glacier

    National Park Montana

Entire Going-to-the-Sun Road Now Open; Shuttle Service Begins July 1

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Date: June 26, 2009
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406 888-5838

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – At 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 26, Glacier National Park personnel swung open the gates at Logan Pass and Jackson Glacier Overlook, thereby opening the entire Going- to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) for vehicle access across Logan Pass. Park officials report that this is the earliest opening of Logan Pass since 2006 when the pass opened on June 23.

After months of hard work, Logan Pass is now available for all visitors to enjoy and travel the entire roadway. This spring’s operation included routine snow removal, routine clearing of rock debris and installation of several thousand feet of removable guardrail and jersey barrier and numerous signs as well as a considerable about of additional work clearing avalanche debris on two separate locations on the road’s west side below Logan Pass. In January 2009, an historic Class V avalanche swept down 4,000 vertical feet from near the Continental Divide and traveled nearly two linear miles. This spring, park road personnel encountered 35-foot-high debris across approximately 500 feet of the Sun Road in two separate locations on the west side below Logan Pass and two sites to the east.

“In spite of the historic avalanche that occurred last winter, this spectacular National Historic Landmark mountain roadway is now open for 24-hour travel between St. Mary and West Glacier unless it is temporarily closed due to weather,” remarked Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright. Road rehabilitation will continue above the Loop this summer. Cartwright noted, “No night work is scheduled for the first part of the summer; however, later in the summer a three-mile segment of road work will commence between Big Bend and Logan Pass and night work will likely occur at that time.

”The park’s free, optional Sun Road shuttle service will begin operating for the summer on Wednesday, July 1 and continue operations through Labor Day, Monday, September 7. This free, step-on-step off, no frills shuttle provides an alternative for visitors traveling the Sun Road. Started in July 2007, the shuttle system is part of Glacier’s program to minimize impacts on visitors throughout the multi-year Sun Road rehabilitation. The transit service provides an alternative mode of transportation for those who don’t mind leaving their vehicles behind. The shuttle system is strictly optional, but transit use has been strong with nearly 250,000 visitor rides tallied during the 2007 (132,039) and 2008 (105,639) seasons alone. This option is available in addition to popular guided tours by Sun Tours from a Blackfeet perspective (800-786-9220 or 406-226-9220 or www.glaciersuntours.com) and aboard the historic red buses with Glacier Park, Inc. (406- 892-2525 or www.glacierparkinc.com). Starting July 1, the Sun Road transit system will be available daily through Labor Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to locations along the Sun Road and Apgar Village. The last evening buses depart Logan Pass for points east and west at 7:15 p.m.

With the opening of Logan Pass, parking, restrooms and visitor facilities and services are now available at Logan Pass Visitor Center. Trails in the Logan Pass area are currently covered by snow. The popular Highline Trail is projected to open for the season on Friday, July 3 after snow hazards are ‘treaded’ by park personnel and volunteers from the Flathead Valley “Over the Hill Gang.”

Hikers should always exercise caution around snow and other water hazards and be sure to wear sturdy, treaded footwear while walking on snow. Glacier National Park is a wonderland to explore and experience, but we want park visitors to have a safe outing,” concluded Cartwright. “Although grizzly bears tend to grab headlines, water- related accidents are the number one cause of accidental death at Glacier National Park such as falling into water from a slippery rock on stream bank. In general, visitors should stay away from snow and streams.” All park visitors are urged to be prepared, be familiar with their equipment and know their personal limitations. Go to the park’s web page at http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/yoursafety.htm for details about: “Bears, Water, Wildlife, Mountain Lions and Watch Your Step.”

This is the earliest Logan Pass opening since 2006 when the entire Sun Road opened for vehicle access on June 23, 2006. The latest opening of the entire Sun Road, on record, was July 10, 1943, when the road was allowed to melt out. In recent years, the latest opening of Logan Pass occurred on July 2, 2008, when several feet of heavy snow fell around June 10. The earliest Logan Pass opening to motorized traffic occurred on May 16, 1987.

For current information on park roads and weather conditions, and visitor services throughout the park, visit Glacier's website www.nps.gov/glac, dial 511 anywhere in Montana (select option 5) or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

- NPS -

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following list includes Logan Pass opening dates for recent years:

  • July 2, 2008 - Heavy snow pack and 2- 3 feet of new snow fell week of June 10
  • July 1, 2007 - Washouts and road damage repairs necessary from Nov. 2006 "Pineapple Express" storm/flooding)
  • June 23, 2006 - Logan Pass nearly ready for opening June 14; rain storm caused 10 washouts and substantial rock debris on road; heavy rain & flooding on June 16 delayed opening until June 23
  • June 13, 2005 - Logan Pass opened June 3; closed June 7; reopened June 8; closed 2 hours later; east side reopened June 10; entirely reopened June 13
  • July 1, 2004 -  Logan Pass opened May 30; closed June 7; reopened June 8; closed June 30; reopened July 1
  • June 3, 2003 -   Logan Pass opened May 30; closed June 2 due to substantial rock fall; reopened June 3
  • 2002 and earlier available at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/parknews/presskit.htm (click on “Historic Logan Pass Open and Close Dates”)

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.