Construction to Limit Hiker and Biker Access on Sun Road

Pavement improvement projects will limit access on weekdays beginning June 10

By Tristan Scott
Biking Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Glacier National Park has kicked off a two-year pavement preservation project that will limit weekday access for hikers and bikers on the Going-to-the-Sun Road to the Avalanche Creek gate beginning June 10.

With plows having reached Logan Pass, the road is mostly clear and will be open to cyclists and pedestrians on the weekends, but park officials are urging extreme caution on sections of the road above The Loop, where avalanches have been active.

A rockslide and an avalanche near Triple Arches on the Going-to-the-Sun Road left 13 cyclists stranded for eight hours on Memorial Day. Glacier National Park officials closed the Going-to-the-Sun Road above The Loop on May 27 after a separate rockslide came down on the road and prevented emergency vehicle travel.

However, many cyclists were already above the rockslide when the closure was put into effect.

Later in the day, a large avalanche came down on the road at Triple Arches. The snow slide was caught on video by a number of visitors in the area.

No one was injured in either the rockslide or avalanche.

The entire length of the Going-to-the-Sun Road will not open to Logan Pass prior to June 22 due to the paving preservation, which requires warm, dry conditions for success — conditions that are rare in the spring and fall.

The project includes paving preservation work on the Sun Road, as well as Chief Mountain Road, a portion of Camas Road, a portion of the Many Glacier Road near Swiftcurrrent Motor Inn, and in parking lots and along other small roads throughout the park.

In May, crews patched campgrounds, roads and parking areas on the parks, west side, and Chief Mountain Highway and St. Mary roads on the east side. Crack sealing was done all over the park in preparation for microsurfacing and chip sealing. Crews began microsurfacing in Apgar Village and the Apgar Visitor Center.

In June, crews will begin laying slurry seal on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and in campgrounds and parking areas at Apgar, Avalanche, and Lake McDonald Lodge. Traffic delays are expected on open portions of the road, no more than thirty minutes in length.

The key points for visitors to consider when planning an early-season trip are as follows, according to park officials: Apgar Loop Road in Apgar Village will likely be treated on June 3-4. It will involve a temporary closure of approximately one hour; half of Lake McDonald Lodge parking lot will be closed on two separate days for treatment, also expected to take place June 3-4; travelers on Chief Mountain Highway in June should expect delays and pilot cars; hiker and biker access on weekdays will be pushed back to the Avalanche Creek gate beginning June 10 while the Going-to-the-Sun Road is treated.

Hikers and bikers will see that closure move on the Current Road Status webpage.

Check the webpage before heading up to the park, as the exact timing and duration of that work may change. The park anticipates that the closure will remain at Avalanche Creek through June 21.

Pullouts and trailhead parking areas on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Camas Road, and Many Glacier Road will be treated along with the roadway. Expect full closures lasting approximately one day of these pullout areas while work is completed.

Work crews will treat the alpine section of the Going-to-to-the-Sun Road before it opens to vehicle traffic.

“This year, the Going-to-the-Sun Road will not open to Logan Pass before June 22 due to pavement preservation,” according to park officials, who warned that visitors should not plan a vehicle trip around that date as the road typically opens sometime between mid-June and mid-July depending on plowing progress and June storms.