From today’s Daily Inter Lake . . .
Glacier National Park will be hard-pressed in avoiding a record late opening of Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass, but the park is gearing up its free shuttle service for expanded service this weekend beyond the vehicle closure gates at Avalanche Campground.
Despite having rotary plows and other heavy-duty snow removal equipment, road crews have found this year’s persistent snowload to be daunting.
Besides a July 15 inaugural opening in 1933, Sun Road’s latest opening over Logan Pass was June 10, 1943, when the park was short-staffed because of World War II.
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Here’s the meat of today’s “weekend update” from Glacier National Park . . .
Park Officials announce the Going-to-the-Sun Road Transit System will begin operation on July 1 through September 2, 2011. Limited shuttle routes, stops and times are offered. Additional openings for the holiday weekend are horse rides at the Lake McDonald Corral and camping at Quartz Creek primitive campground. Granite Park Chalet will begin operation on July 2. Chalet guest can access the trailhead utilizing the Going-to-the-Sun Road transit system.
Due to high water a few closures exist. Currently, the Avalanche Creek Trail is closed due to the creek running over the trail. Trail crews are attempting to mitigate the flooding so the trail can be reopened this weekend. Visitors are asked to inquire about current trail conditions at a visitor center or ranger station to receive the most up to date information. The Quarter Circle Bridge Road is closed due to water over the road; this is caused by high water flows on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Logging Creek Campground will open on July 8 at the earliest due to water in the campground. The Inside North Fork Road remains closed at Fish Creek and Logging Creek due to flood damage in three separate areas.
In past years, on the 4th of July, the Two Medicine Rangers have been able to provide additional picnic areas to meet increased holiday demand. This year, due to lingering snow in Two Medicine, there will be fewer picnic sites available for July 4th. Most of the campground will be available for camping.
Plowing continues on the Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road). On the west side, crews have reached the Logan Pass and are at the Big Drift. The Big Drift is the last snow obstacle to be cleared on the Sun Road and this year the drift is estimated between 50-60 feet, a depth normally seen on Memorial Day weekend. Today, crews from the west side will begin to pioneer the Big Drift so they can be joined by the east side crews to “punch through” the last section of the Sun Road.
Motorized vehicle access beyond the Avalanche Creek closure to the Loop will be provided only by the Going-to-the-Sun Road Transit System. Parking is limited at Avalanche Creek, therefore it is recommended to access the transit system from the Apgar Transit Center. On the east side, the transit system will operate from the St. Mary Visitor Center to Sun Point. Visitors are reminded that until the Sun Road is open in its entirety, the shuttle system schedule will be modified. Visitors should inquire at a visitor center, ranger station or transit center to obtain more information. Hiking and biking beyond the vehicle closure is allowed from Avalanche Creek to Bird Woman Falls, approximately 11 miles on the west side and from Jackson Glacier Overlook to Siyeh Bend, approximately two miles on the east side for the holiday weekend and the following week. Hikers and bikers should be alert for transit shuttles and construction vehicles when traveling beyond the vehicle closures. Construction work will resume on Tuesday July 5. Night work, from Big Bend to Logan Pass, continues Tuesday night through Friday morning from 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. and no travel will be allowed through the construction zone.
From a press release posted today on the Glacier Park web site . . .
Park Officials announce the Going-to-the-Sun Road Transit System will begin operations on July 1. On the west side of the park a modified shuttle schedule will operate daily, from 7:00am to 5:00pm, until the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road is open to vehicles and the full transit schedule can begin. On the east side of the park, shuttles will service all regular stops between the St. Mary Visitor Center and Sun Point at 30 minute intervals from 7:00am to 7:00pm.
Starting Friday, shuttles will operate between the Apgar Transit Center and Avalanche Creek every hour, with stops along the route in Apgar, Sprague Creek Campground, and Lake McDonald Lodge.
Starting Saturday, enhanced visitor access to the Going-to-the-Sun Road, beyond the vehicle closure at Avalanche Creek, will be provided through an expansion of the shuttle operation. In addition to the shuttles operating between the Apgar Transit Center and Avalanche Creek, shuttles will depart from Avalanche Creek to “The Loop,” every 10 to 15 minutes.
During this modified schedule the last bus to “The Loop” from Avalanche Creek will depart at 4:00pm. The last bus from the Apgar Transit Center, that will make it to Avalanche Creek in time for the 4:00pm departure to “The Loop,” leaves the transit center at 3:00pm. The last return bus will be at 5:00pm.
Visitors are encouraged to park at the Apgar Transit Center, as parking at Avalanche Creek is extremely limited.
Also, hikers and bikers may still enjoy the lower section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road past Avalanche Creek. Construction vehicles and shuttles may also be using that section of the road so caution is advised. On Friday, July 1 the hiker/biker closure will be located 3½ miles beyond the vehicle closure at Avalanche Creek. Starting Saturday the hiker/biker closure will be located 11 miles beyond Avalanche Creek, near Bird Woman Falls Overlook. Adjustments to these closures may be prompted by changing weather and road conditions.
From today’s Hungry Horse News . . .
Glacier National Park plow crews are closing in on Logan Pass, but they still have a good week of work ahead of them. As of presstime, crews on the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road were just below Logan Pass near Rimrocks.
On the east side, plow crews were at the base of the Big Drift, a huge snowdrift just east of Logan Pass that can reach 100 feet deep. Cutting through the Big Drift and clearing the Logan Pass parking lot usually takes several days. Plow crews are working five 10-hour days per week.
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Glacier National Park posted their weekend update today. The bulk of it discusses the ongoing work to get Logan Pass and the remainder of Going-to-the-Sun Road opened up. There’s still lots of snow to plow and no official opening date yet . . .
Plowing and rehabilitation work continue on the Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) and currently there is no estimation on when the upper sections will be cleared of the winter snow. Glacier National Park officials anticipate being able to announce a plan for additional visitor access beyond the current vehicle closure at Avalanche Creek.
Unprecedented winter snows and late spring snow storms slowed plowing progress on the Sun Road this spring. Plowing has been completed on the lower section of the road, which has allowed contractors working on the Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation Project to resume paving work between Logan Creek and the West Tunnel. Once the paving work is finished, increased access to areas of the Sun Road, beyond Avalanche Creek, may be allowed. Park officials hope to define what access would be available, sometime next week. However, until the full length of the Sun Road is plowed and open to traffic, the west side vehicle closure will remain at Avalanche Creek.
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They’re starting to move snow in Glacier National Park and they have plenty extra this year. Don’t expect Logan Pass access before mid-June at best and, as usual, they are letting Camas and the inside North Fork Road melt out on their own. Read the press release for all the gory details . . .
Glacier National Park road crews have begun spring snow plowing on the park’s roads and are finding substantial amounts of snow. Flattop and Many Glacier Snotel sites, snow measuring stations, are showing between 20 and 40 percent above normal snow water equivalent. Last week, USGS snow survey crews recorded 100 inches of snow on the ground at Siyeh Bend, two miles east of Logan Pass, and 140 inches of snow at the 7,500 foot elevation nearby.
Park crews began plowing the Chief Mountain Road, near the park’s northeast corner on Tuesday, March 15. The crews then focused their efforts on the Two Medicine Road. Instead of the three foot drifts they normally encounter at this time of year, the crews were plowing drifts up to eight feet deep. As soon as weather and road conditions permit, visitors will be able to drive to Running Eagle Falls. The Many Glacier Road will be the focus of east side plowing efforts this week. At present, crews are encountering drifts over ten feet deep. The Many Glacier Road will not open to motor vehicles until the third weekend of April at the earliest, to reduce stress on wildlife in critical winter range.
On the west side, the crews have completed plowing Apgar Village and one lane on the Camas Road. The Camas and Inside North Fork Roads will be allowed to melt out prior to opening. Plowing of the Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) began on Friday, April 1, beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge. Crews are encountering 12-36 inches of snow with two to six inches of ice on the road surface. Once the crews plow beyond Avalanche Creek, HK Contractors will continue rehabilitation of the Sun Road along Upper McDonald Creek and on both sides of Logan Pass.
Because of the contract to rehabilitate the Sun Road, the earliest possible opening of the road in its entirety would be June 17, weather and road conditions dependent. Spring snow storms play a large factor in safely opening the Sun Road to two-way motor vehicle traffic. Once the plow crews are working in the higher elevations, visitors will be able to drive to Avalanche Creek on the west side and Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side.
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