Going-to-the-Sun Road Could Open Friday

By Beacon Staff

GREAT FALLS – Glacier National Park officials say they’re hoping to open Going-to-the-Sun Road on Friday but much depends on the weather.

Businesses that rely on the road, meanwhile, are hoping they don’t see a repeat of last year when the road didn’t open until July 13.

“It’s all up to Mother Nature,” Glacier spokeswoman Denise Germann told the Great Falls Tribune. “We need her help to help move forward.”

She said crews are working to open the road despite spring storms that brought 16 new inches of snow since Memorial Day. She said snow slides have also slowed progress, with crews even having to plow their way back through avalanches that came in behind them. Some avalanches on the west side of Logan Pass were up to 15 feet deep.

“It’s caused a few delays, but the crew is working overtime and extra time to help meet our projected date,” Germann said.

Business owners are anticipating a Friday opening.

“I’ve heard it’s going to be super busy,” said Holly Winterrowd, recently manning the register at the mostly empty St. Mary’s park Cafe and Grocery near the park’s east entrance.

Chris Hamlet, who works at Thronson’s General Store in Babb, is expecting a better year than last year.

“I think so, especially with the Canadian dollar doing so well and the road opening earlier,” he said.

He said another problem last year was that half the rooms at nearby Many Glacier Lodge were under renovation. The hotel is scheduled to open Friday.

Terry Sherburne said the summer is looking good based on reservations at the historic Mountain Pine Motel in East Glacier.

“This year should be a very good season,” he said. “Most of June, July and August is already completely filled.”

He said most guests are interested in traveling on the road.

“It gets the circulation going,” Sherburne said. “When people call for a reservation, they always check to see if it’s open. It’s only early June, though. We could get more snow later to slow things. You never know what to expect in Glacier.”

East Glacier businesses took a hit last year when the Amtrak train stopped coming for 45 days due to flooding in North Dakota.

“That is our lifeline,” said Judy Jones, who works at a Dollar Rent a Car. “This is going to be a busy summer. Everyone who couldn’t come last year on the train is coming now.”