Sun Road to open Wednesday

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The long-awaited opening of Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass is anticipated to be Wednesday, July 13, Glacier National Park officials announced Thursday afternoon.

The Logan Pass opening - complicated by unprecedented snow levels - would be latest ever for the upper stretch of Glacier's scenic high-elevation road.

Besides a July 15 inaugural opening in 1933, Sun Road's latest previous opening over Logan Pass was July 10, 1943, when the park was short-staffed because of World War II.

When the pass opens, motorists will be able to travel the entire length of Sun Road between West Glacier and St. Mary. Sun Road is the only road that traverses Glacier Park.

Opening the upper section of Going-to-the-Sun Road always is a challenge, but this year was compounded by extremely heavy winter snows and unseasonably cool spring weather, according to a press release from Glacier.

Snow continued to fall at high elevations well into June and a flyover of the Big Drift on June 4 revealed a snowpack that looked more like April than June. As recently as July 6, the park superintendent and chief of facility management visited Logan Pass and stood on the Big Drift roughly 30 feet above asphalt.

"This amount of snow at this time of year is unprecedented," the park press release states.

When the pass opens, visitors will discover a snow-covered landscape. All of the trails in the area still are covered by many feet of snow. Visitors should exercise caution when hiking on snow and be aware of unseen holes and snow bridges.

The Highline Trail that begins at Logan Pass remains closed and there is no current projection of an opening date. Access to Logan Pass will allow contractors to resume work on new restroom facilities at the Logan Pass Visitor Center.

Areas around the construction will be closed to public entry. Portable toilets will be available but there will be no potable drinking water at Logan Pass.

Road rehabilitation work on lower sections of the Going-to-the-Sun Road will create some traffic delays for Glacier visitors.

From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., travelers should expect delays of up to 20 minutes at each construction site, for a total of no more than a 40-minute delay between Big Bend and Siyeh Bend.

On the west side of the park, a night closure will be in effect Monday evening through Friday morning (between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.) from The Loop to Logan Pass. There will be a 15- to 20-minute window for passage through the construction zone at 2 a.m., allowing travel to and from Logan Pass.

There are no night closures east of Logan Pass.

With the opening of the entire length of Going-to-the-Sun Road, the park's free shuttle system will expand service to Logan Pass.

The shuttle system stops in 16 different areas along Sun Road and runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Shuttle passengers should catch the bus at either the St. Mary Visitor Center or the Apgar Transit Center since parking is extremely limited at Logan Pass, Avalanche Creek and Sunrift Gorge.

For current information on park roads, weather conditions and visitor services throughout the park, visit Glacier's website, www.nps.gov/glac, dial 511 anywhere in Montana (select option 5) or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

 

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