Glacier National Park reopened Thursday after Congress took action to end the federal government’s partial shutdown.
About 250 park employees were furloughed during the 16-day shutdown while 20 to 30 employees continued to manage the park’s closure.
“We are pleased to have the park open for visitors and continue with our responsibilities of managing and protecting the resources,” Glacier Superintendent Jeff Mow said in a news release.
On Thursday morning, Glacier’s website and social media sites were reactivated, and barricades at park entrances were removed. Park road crews began monitoring roads, including a sweep of the Going-to-the-Sun Road to clean up debris.
After debris is cleared, the road will be opened as far as Big Bend, but only through Sunday.
“Weather systems have been consistently bringing rain, snow and winter conditions through the upper elevations of the park, including the alpine section of Going-to-the-Sun Road,” Mow said.
The Logan Pass parking area is covered by 2 feet of snow, and there are snow slides of 6 to 8 feet on the road in the Rim Rocks area just below the pass.
Park employees are starting to winterize sections of the road, removing more than 400 guard rails and installing about 600 snow poles that help crews plow the road in the spring.
Apgar, Bowman Lake, Kintla Lake, Quartz Creek and St. Mary campgrounds are open to primitive camping. Pit toilets are available but not potable or drinking water. Fees have been reduced to $10 per night.
The Apgar Visitor Center is open every weekend from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Flathead National Forest resumed operations Thursday as well.
“We’re probably not 100 percent, but we’re close to it,” said Wade Muehlhof, the forest’s public affairs officer.
The forest manages 14 rental cabins, most of which are reopened for public use, and resumed issuing firewood permits and other permits.
Some campgrounds operated by concessions contractors were supposed to be open until Oct. 6 but closed a week early because of the shutdown.
Muehlhof said some logging operations were affected by the shutdown but many were far enough along that they could be completed after the shutdown took effect.