Glacier Park

Glacier Park Announces Summer Construction Projects

Visitors can expect fewer delays compared to previous years as Going-to-the-Sun Road pavement rehabilitation project is expected to conclude before peak tourist season

By Micah Drew
A crane towers over McDonald Creek for reconstruction of the North Lake McDonald Road bridge in Glacier National Park on July 7, 2023. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Glacier National Park officials announced Monday that a number of construction operations will continue this summer, though fewer visitors delays are expected compared to previous years as several large projects wind down.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

The third year of Going-to-the-Sun Road utility and pavement rehabilitation work along Lake McDonald will begin this month and include paving 2.8 miles of road from Sprague Creek Campground up to North Lake McDonald Road. This is the last phase of the pavement project and construction is expected to be finished by late May or early June depending on weather conditions. Visitors can expect delays of up to 30 minutes during construction hours.

Adding to the Lake McDonald area construction is continued work on the replacement of the upper McDonald Creek Bridge, which is used to access private homes, trailheads and the Lake McDonald Ranger Station on the northeast shore of the lake. Construction began in 2023 and includes a full demolition of the existing bridge and installation of a new bridge approximately 30 feet upstream, requiring a realignment of the road approaches.

North Lake McDonald Road will be closed to all public access for the entirety of the 2024 season at the intersection with Going-to-the-Sun Road. This closure applies to vehicles, bikers and hikers and includes hikers on the Johns Lake Loop Trail. Bridge construction is slated to begin in early April and is expected to be finished in August.

Park-wide Fiber Optic Installation

In 2024, new fiber optic lines will be installed in West Glacier, East Glacier, St. Mary, and Many Glacier to improve internet access for park service administrative purposes. Traffic delays will be minimal, but park officials ask visitors to use caution and watch for construction workers and equipment on or near the roadways throughout the summer.

At West Glacier, fiber optic line will be installed across the Middle Fork bridge and on the east side up to Grinnell Drive at park headquarters. Traffic may be restricted to a single lane on Going-to-the-Sun Road up to Grinnell Drive. Work in West Glacier will be completed within 2-3 weeks.

In East Glacier, fiber optic cable will be installed across U.S. Highway 2 and along MT-49. Lane reductions or single-lane closures are possible along MT-49 up to the East Glacier Ranger Station. Work will be completed within one to two weeks.

Fiber optic work will take place close to the St. Mary Entrance on the west side of US-89 near restaurants and hotels. Minimal traffic impacts are expected, but there will be possible pedestrian and parking impacts. Work in St. Mary is expected to take one to two weeks.

Fiber optic work in Many Glacier includes an extension of existing fiber optic internet service from Babb to the Many Glacier Ranger Station. The line will be installed on the north side of the road. The work will impact areas near the entrance sign, entrance
station, Apikuni Falls Trailhead, pull-offs along the Many Glacier Road, the Many Glacier Hotel T-intersection, and the Swiftcurrent area of the road. There may be lane reductions or single lane traffic on Many Glacier Road. Work will be completed within four to six weeks.

Park Headquarters

In West Glacier, a rehabilitation project of the park headquarters complex roads and parking lot will take place beginning in August and lasting through the fall. Visitors should be aware of construction vehicles, workers and possible wait times if entering headquarters.

Swiftcurrent and Many Glacier

Starting Sept. 16, the road past Many Glacier Hotel at the T-intersection will be closed due to construction on the Swiftcurrent Water Distribution System and road rehabilitation. Construction will begin after Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, Many Glacier Hotel and Many Glacier Campground shut down for the season. Trail access will still be allowed to access Ptarmigan Tunnel (and points beyond), Iceberg Lake, and Swiftcurrent Pass. However, visitors will need to park in the Many Glacier Hotel parking lot, walk to the closure point and use the horse trail to bypass construction. Signs will indicate the detour. Cars will not be able to pass through the construction zone. For best access to Grinnell and Lake Josephine Trails, start from the South Shore Trailhead at the south end of Many Glacier Hotel. Primitive camping at Many Glacier Campground will not be available in Fall 2024 due to construction. Many Glacier Campground’s regular summer season is from early June to mid-September.

The Many Glacier Road from the park boundary to the entrance station will undergo dust mitigation treatment this summer. The treatment work will begin in late June, weather permitting. This gravel stretch of road is slated for construction and paving in 2027.

Polebridge and the North Fork

Outside the Glacier National Park boundaries, visitors can expect delays from road work the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is continuing near Polebridge. A section of Glacier Drive just north of the business area as well as the stretch of road running are still under reconstruction started last year, which will lead to parking restrictions. Visitors can expect 30-minute delays in the Polebridge area and are encouraged not to drive all the way to the North Fork entrance unless they have a vehicle reservation to decrease traffic in the work zone. 

Information regarding the ongoing construction work will be posted at the Polebridge Mercantile. Updates for the construction project can be found on Montana Department of Transportation’s website.

Grading will be ongoing throughout the summer on the Inside North Fork road to Bowman and Kintla lakes. Operations will not disrupt travel to these destinations. Major road work between Camas and Anaconda creek could impact hiker and biker travel.

For the latest updates on road construction and visitor access, visit the GNP website.