With hopes of opening the Going-to-the-Sun Road by mid June, Glacier National Park crews have begun spring snow plowing operations on the park’s roads.
The earliest possible opening of the Going-to-Sun Road in its entirety would be June 15, weather and road conditions dependent, the park said in a statement last week. Last year, a heavy snowpack and a wet, cool spring prevented crews from opening the road until July 13, the latest in park history.
Snow levels at high elevations across the park are currently above average for this time of year. The snow depth atop Flattop Mountain was recorded at approximately 165 inches, or almost 14 feet at the end of March. Snow levels at Many Glacier are at normal levels. U.S. Geological Survey snow survey crews recently recorded 91 inches of snow on the ground at Siyeh Bend, two miles east of Logan Pass.
The Chief Mountain Road, near the park’s northeast corner, has been plowed and will be allowed to melt out prior to opening. Crews are currently working on the Many Glacier Road encountering snow drifts up to 10 feet. This road will not open to the public until the third weekend of April at the earliest, to reduce stress on wildlife in critical winter range, the park said. Plowing of the Two Medicine Road will be underway soon.
On the west side of the park, crews plowed in the Apgar Village and the Camas Road. The Camas Road will be allowed to melt out prior to opening. The Inside North Fork Road will be allowed to open naturally, with no plowing scheduled.
Spring snow storms play a large factor in safely opening the road to two-way motor vehicle traffic. Once the plow crews are working in the higher elevations, visitors will be able to drive to Avalanche Creek on the west side and Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side.
Due to rehabilitation activities between Avalanche Creek and Logan Creek on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, spring hiker and biker access may be reduced from previous years. Pets are prohibited on park roads that are closed to vehicle use.
Park officials are reminding visitors to stay alert for snowplows and other heavy equipment on park roads as well as areas of ice, slush, avalanche zones and fallen rock. Additionally, spring snowstorms can cause hazardous driving conditions and temporary road closures.
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