Glacier National Park held two meetings this week to share information about park activities and plans and get feedback from local communities. The Daily Inter Lake has a report on Tuesday’s meeting in Columbia Falls . . .
Glacier National Park is struggling with shuttle bus finances and over the next few years will craft a management plan to try to deal with congestion along Going-to-the-Sun Road.
The shuttle bus/road situation was one of the topics at a community meeting Tuesday in Columbia Falls featuring Glacier Park leaders.
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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.