WEST GLACIER – Starting Saturday – and, of course, depending on the weather – vehicle traffic will be able to access snow-covered Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.
But you’ll have to do it from the east side, at the St. Mary entrance.
Park officials announced Friday afternoon they expected to be able to open the east side of the fabled road within hours.
Here on the west side, the road remains closed from Avalanche Creek to Logan Pass as crews work to remove snow from the route. All 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun will open by Friday, June 21, at the earliest.
Glacier spokeswoman Denise Germann said favorable weather conditions and financial support from the Glacier National Park Conservancy contributed to the relatively early accessibility of Logan Pass.
Money from the conservancy is being used to pay overtime for the park employees who work long hours to open the spectacular route as early as possible. The opening is very important for tourism-related businesses near Glacier.
Congressional sequestration forced national parks to stop authorizing overtime this year.
Western Montanans who want to access Logan Pass over the next week will have to skirt the south edge of the park on U.S. Highway 2, then head north on Montana Highway 49 and U.S. 89 to reach St. Mary and the east entrance.
Unless, that is, you’re on foot or bicycle this weekend. There will be no restrictions for hikers and bikers on the road past the vehicle gate closure at Avalanche Creek on Saturday and Sunday.
The restrictions go back in effect Monday through Thursday as work to open the road continues.
Germann says those who make their way to Logan Pass “will discover a snow-covered landscape” – and need to be ready for it.
Winter weather may be encountered, along with cold temperatures and wind, freezing temperatures at night, and icy conditions.
Sturdy boots, warm clothing and adequate fluids are necessary when spending time outside, she advises.
Trails are still covered in snow and may be difficult to follow. The Highline Trail from Logan Pass remains closed due to the conditions.
Restrooms at Logan Pass will be open, but potable water will not be available until next week.