All 50 miles of Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road opened Wednesday evening, allowing vehicles to travel the scenic drive to Logan Pass.
Opening the uppermost sections of the serpentine Sun Road is an annual challenge, park officials said, and the chore was compounded this year by late-spring snowstorms that blanketed the high country.
Park road crews have finished snow removal, debris clean-up work, guard rail installation, and facility preparation, as well assessing snow conditions. The Logan Pass Visitor Center is expected to open July 3. The visitor center will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., including a bookstore managed by the Glacier National Park Conservancy. Restroom facilities and potable water at Logan Pass will be available.
Visitors will discover a snow-covered landscape at Logan Pass, and will likely encounter winter weather, cold temperatures and wind, as well as icy conditions.
Park officials reminded visitors to be aware of snow walls along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and hazardous snow bridges near the Big Drift. Standing or walking on snow along the road is strongly discouraged.
Trails near Logan Pass are covered in snow and visitors should exercise caution when hiking. Avoid crossing steep, snow-covered slopes where a fall could be disastrous. Visitors should have the appropriate equipment and skills if hiking on snow. The Highline Trail from Logan Pass is closed due to snow conditions.
Travel from Hidden Lake Overlook to Hidden Lake is not recommended due to snow conditions. Current status of park trails can be found at http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm.
The park’s shuttle system is scheduled to begin normal operations on the west side beginning July 3. Limited east-side shuttle service will also begin Thursday.
East-side shuttle stop locations will vary throughout the summer due to road rehabilitation activities. Visitors are encouraged to contact the St. Mary Visitor Center for more information about east-side shuttle schedules.
The transit system provides two-way service along Going-to-the-Sun Road between the Apgar Visitor Center and St. Mary Visitor Center. Shuttles operate seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The last shuttle departs from Logan Pass at 7 p.m. On the west side of the park from the Apgar Visitor Center to Logan Pass, buses run every 30 minutes and every 40 to 60 minutes on the east side. Three west-side express shuttles are available from 7 a.m. to approximately 7:40 a.m., offering direct travel from the Apgar Visitor Center to Logan Pass without intermediate stops. The park’s shuttle system is scheduled to operate through September 7.
Since Thursday, June 26, more than 5,000 people have utilized the park’s optional, free shuttle system. Due to the popularity of the system, shuttles fill up quickly. Seating capacity is limited and visitors may experience wait times longer than 30 minutes. The shuttle system is intended to minimize impacts on visitors throughout the multi–year rehabilitation project on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. For more information on the shuttle system, visit http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/shuttles.htm.
Interpretive bus tours of the Going-to-the-Sun Road and other areas of the park are available through park concessioners, Glacier National Park Lodges and Sun Tours. For more information and reservations, visit http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/bus-tours.htm.
Rehabilitation work on the Going-to-the-Sun Road will continue this year with activity on the east side occurring between Siyeh Bend and Rising Sun. Use caution when traveling this 9-mile stretch of roadway as it will have a rough, gravel surface this summer and fall. Visitors can expect 30-minute maximum traffic delays on the east side of the park this summer and no delays on the west side. No construction delays are anticipated during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Sun Point is closed to all visitor traffic including picnicking, transit, restroom use, and hiking due to road construction activity.
The opening of Logan Pass will mark the end of current hiker-biker access. Bicyclists are reminded that bicycle restrictions are in effect on the Going-to-the-Sun-Road due to traffic congestion now through Labor Day, September 1. Bicycles are prohibited between Apgar Campground and Sprague Creek Campground from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, bicycles are prohibited eastbound (uphill) between Logan Creek and Logan Pass from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information on bicycle restrictions and average bicycle times, check the park newspaper available at park entrance stations or online at, http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/inforequest/inforequest3.cfm.
Large crowds are anticipated at Glacier National Park for the upcoming holiday weekend. Visitors are encouraged to experience and enjoy their national park, but be prepared for outdoor activities and patient with possible extended wait times for visitor services. For current information on park roads, weather conditions, and visitor services visit Glacier National Park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800.