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Yellowstone, Glacier, North Cascades clearing snow from roads

In this Feb. 2, 2014, file photo, Yellowstone National Park bison forage for grass in the snow near an icy Madison River in Montana. (Lloyd Blunk / Billings Gazette)
In this Feb. 2, 2014, file photo, Yellowstone National Park bison forage for grass in the snow near an icy Madison River in Montana. (Lloyd Blunk / Billings Gazette)

PARKS -- A sweet transition for bicyclists is ending at Yellowstone National Park but just barely beginning at Glacier and North Cascades national parks as crews clear roadways that have been buried in snow for months.

Yellowstone National Park on Friday will begin opening select roads that have been plowed after being closed over the winter within the park.  During the plowing transition, bicyclists had access to many of the roads without the competition from tourist motorized traffic.

Roads opening to traffic at 8 a.m. Friday include Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris, Norris to Madison, Madison to Old Faithful, Madison to the West Entrance and Norris to Canyon Village. 

Road construction also is resuming between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris with delays up to 30 minutes, the Associated Press reports.  Yellowstone closes about 320 miles of road over the winter and plows them open in the spring. 

At Glacier Park, plowing began two weeks ago and will continue through May. At some point in May, bicyclists and walkers will have access to miles of the Going to the Sun Road before the entire route over Logan Pass is cleared for traffic -- probably in early June.

The North Cascades Highway is in week 2 of clearing.  The April 10 starting date for clearing State Route 20 over the North Cascades is nearly a month later than the typical mid-March date, but weather, snow slides and avalanche danger made it unsafe to begin the work any earlier.

Clearing the North Cascades Highway usually takes four to six weeks, but the estimate this year is that it could take up to eight weeks.  The latest reopening ever for the North Cascades Highway was June 14, 1974.  This year’s clearing work could extend into June as well considering the high volume of snow through the 34-mile closed section, which includes Rainy Pass in North Cascades National Park.

During the clearing, pedestrians, skiers and bicyclists are prohibited Monday through Thursday, but allowed past the gates (west of Mazama on this side of the mountains) Friday through Sunday.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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