Glacier Park plows start digging in

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Park plows clear the Going-to-the-Sun Road in this file photo.

Glacier National Park plows have begun spring plowing on the east side of the park and will start on the west side the first week in April.

Crews have cleared the Many Glacier Road to the Many Glacier Hotel, though it is not open to vehicles. The road was plowed a bit earlier than usual to allow contractors to get to the hotel, which is undergoing a $13 million renovation.

The bulk of the construction work is slated to be done by June to accommodate guests at the hotel.

Normally plows don’t hit the Many Glacier Road until mid-April.

The Chief Mountain Road has also been plowed to one-quarter mile of the port of entry, and should be completed by next week. The road doesn’t open to vehicles until the U.S.-Canada border entrance opens in May.

Plowing on the Two Medicine Road is expected to start April 3.

On the west side, the park is planning on plowing the Camas Road starting April 1 and the Going-to-the-Sun Road likely the first week in April. The park will plow the top of the snow off the Camas Road and allow the rest to melt, leaving a layer of ice to protect the pavement. It usually takes a few days for the ice to melt off.

Plowing on the Sun Road on the east side should start the second week of April.

When plows are working, the park generally closes roads to hikers and bikers in the vicinity of the crews, but when they’re not — weekends and later in the day on weekdays — roads are usually open for hiking and biking, unless there’s road construction or some other activity.

Closures are clearly marked.

Biking the Sun Road is very popular in the spring. This spring, however, there will be some restrictions as the Avalanche campground access road will be closed to public traffic until May 26 so crews can complete the footbridge work that began this past fall.

That means there will be less parking at Avalanche.

Glacier is building a second footbridge across Avalanche Creek just south of the Sun Road in an effort to keep pedestrians off the highway. Avalanche is one of the most popular places in the park.

But Glacier will be hosting a free shuttle for bikers from the Apgar Visitor Center to Avalanche with a stop at Lake McDonald Lodge on weekends only starting Mother’s Day weekend, May 13. The weekend shuttle service will run through the opening of Sun Road to vehicle traffic over Logan Pass.

The shuttle service is funded by the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

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