Outdoors blog

Avalanches delay Glacier Park plowing progress

Glacier National Park crews work to plow the Going to the Sun Road toward Logan Pass in May 2012. (Glacier National Park)
Glacier National Park crews work to plow the Going to the Sun Road toward Logan Pass in May 2012. (Glacier National Park)

PUBLIC LANDS -- Although hikers and walkers can advance farther beyond gates, snow-plowing crews have been able to open only 12.5 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The process of opening the famous road over Logan Pass is being slowed by numerous avalanches.

 Visitors can drive 11.5 miles from the West Entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge, and 1.0 miles from the St. Mary Entrance to Foot of St. Mary Lake.

From McDonald Lodge, hikers and bikers can access another 10 miles of road, depending on where the plow crews are working. On weekends there are no restrictions for hikers and bikers. Plow crews are currently working 10-hour shifts Tuesday through Friday. There is currently no vehicle or hiker and biker access on the east side.  

See daily updates and photos at the Glacier Park Website.

Plow crews on Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road are slowly clawing their way to Logan Pass in their annual effort to open Northwest Montana’s most notable summer attraction. As of Monday, the west side plow crew had advanced to Russ’ Slide, just past The Loop, about six miles short of Logan Pass. Meanwhile, on the east side, plow crews were wrapping up their work in the Two Medicine Valley and expected to start plowing the Sun Road east from St. Mary this week.

Park spokesperson Denise Germann said while snow depths have been below the record setting amounts in 2011, plow crews are contending with another danger: avalanches. There are more than 70 avalanche chutes along the Sun Road.

“They’re seeing a lot of snow and a lot of slides this year,” Germann said. “But we’ve seen a lot of avalanche activity all across western Montana this year.”

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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