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Contact: Lauren Alley, 406-888-5838
West Glacier, MT – The park has begun preparations to open roads and facilities for the summer season. This winter, some areas of the park saw record or near record snowfall amounts. This spring, cool temperatures and continued snow have created challenging conditions as crews plow roads, parking areas, campgrounds, and access utilities to turn them on for the season.
Early Season Tips
The park expects that some campgrounds or campsites, including some reservation campsites, will not be available by their projected opening dates. Campground staff will contact visitors with campground reservations about moving to alternate spaces if necessary. Early season hikers should consult the park’s trail status page to see trail clearing activity and projected trail clearing start dates.
The spring hiker-biker shuttle will run on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 am to 5 pm beginning May 12, and will continue until the Going-to-the-Sun Road opens through Logan Pass to vehicles. It will also run on May 28, Memorial Day. The shuttle will depart from the Apgar Visitor Center and drop off at both Lake McDonald Lodge and Avalanche Creek (once open to vehicle traffic).
Spring and summer construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road has begun, including work that was previously anticipated for last fall, but was rescheduled due to the Sprague Fire.
In May, crews will be working on paving and road bed work between the West Entrance Station and the area east of the four-way intersection in Apgar known as the Apgar Curve. Traffic will detour through Apgar Village while that work is completed. A pilot car will be used beginning May 14 between the West Entrance Station and the four-way intersection at Apgar.
Crews have also begun work on a section of North McDonald Road between the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the bridge over McDonald Creek, including culvert installation and road bed replacement. While that work is completed, no vehicle or pedestrian access will be permitted during the week. On the weekends, pedestrians should use caution to avoid holes and other hazards marked with cones as they navigate through the construction area. The work is expected to last until mid-May. Trailhead access impacted by this temporary closure includes Trout Lake, McDonald Lakeshore, and McDonald Creek. These trails can be accessed from the Rocky Point Trailhead as an alternate.
At the end of May, North McDonald Road and associated trailhead access will again be closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic for two additional days while paving that section of the road. That work is tentatively planned for the week of May 21, weather permitting. No pedestrian or vehicle access will be available along that road while paving is completed. Windows for local administrative travel will be scheduled.
Many turnouts between Apgar and Avalanche Creek will be unavailable this season while they are rehabilitated. Those turnouts will be marked with traffic cones and drums.
In late summer, crews will work above Triple Arches for approximately one week to install veneer on the removable railing sections that were completed last summer. Traffic delays are anticipated to be minimal for this work.
A maximum thirty minute traffic delay will be in effect for the west side of the park this summer due to scheduled construction between the West Entrance Station and Avalanche Creek.
In September, the park will start on a road repair roughly 1.5 miles west of Avalanche Creek. Once Avalanche Campground is closed for the season, Avalanche Campground Road will close for approximately two weeks beginning September 17 for rehabilitation.
A modification to the St. Mary Kiosk roof will begin this fall. Traffic delays are anticipated to be minimal for this work.
In response to congestion and resource impacts, the park has updated several park regulations for the 2018 season.
Visitors will not be permitted to hold campsites for other parties not yet present. People with hammocks should ensure that the webbing they use to attach their hammock to a tree is at least one inch in width to avoid harming tree bark. The area around Big Bend will be closed to off-trail travel to reduce trampling, though climbing access will be available. A 21-foot vehicle limit will be in place on all North Fork roads due to road width and increasing use, in accordance with the North Fork Plan that identified this action should roads become significantly more congested. Llamas are no longer included in the list of permitted pack animals to reduce the spread of domestic diseases to wild bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, moose, elk, and caribou. The full 2018 Superintendent’s Compendium can be found on the park’s website.
Other Visitor Updates
Construction is complete on the Many Glacier Hotel following more than a decade of rehabilitation to improve critical life-safety elements and restore historic finishes. All rooms and public areas are now available for use.
In 2017, the park welcomed 3.3 million visitors. This is a one million person increase over 2015 visitation levels. This summer, some areas again may temporarily fill, and visitors will be asked to return when congestion clears and parking spaces and roadways become available for use. This year, the park will be using its Twitter page to communicate live congestion updates throughout the season.