ST. MARY – It’s open.
Without fanfare, traffic on all 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park resumed at 9 a.m. Friday.
The road, closed for 2 1/2 weeks because of the Reynolds Creek fire, will be open on the east side from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Visitors will now be able to see for themselves the results of the human-caused, 4,311-acre fire, which remains active in the area.
Glacier spokeswoman Denise Germann said smoke may still be visible, and may reduce visibility at times, so visitors “are required to drive slowly.”
“Active fire may be visible from the road, and visitors should watch for falling debris such as rocks and tree limbs, as well as fire-weakened trees,” she said.
Almost 500 hazard trees have been removed from near the road.
Germann said anyone who encounters debris or fallen trees on the road should not attempt to remove it, but to report it to a park ranger or the closest visitor center.
Glacier officials publicly announced the reopening of the road 15 minutes after it happened.
In the announcement, Glacier Superintendent Jeff Mow said, “In consultation with the incident management team managing the Reynolds Creek fire, we have opened the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road for visitor vehicle travel from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.”
Mow said the ban on driving at night that will be in effect is “in the best interest of the firefighters working in the area and the visitor.”
Access to the road may increase or decrease, depending on fire activity, he said.
All hiking trails within the fire perimeter are closed.
Vehicles will not be allowed to stop or park along the road in pullouts between the St. Mary Campground and Siyeh Bend, approximately a 17-mile stretch.
Limited concession operations will, however, resume in the Rising Sun area Saturday, where the camp store will reopen, but the Rising Sun Motor Inn and Two Dog Flats Grill will remained closed.
Neither will bicycle traffic be allowed in the fire area, but cyclists will be able to transport their bikes via the park’s free shuttle system, which resumed crossing all 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun on Friday morning, albeit with no stops in the fire area.
The only shuttle stops on the east side currently will be at Rising Sun and Siyeh Bend, which is about a mile east of Logan Pass.
Boat tours will also resume out of Rising Sun on St. Mary Lake, park officials said.