WEST GLACIER – Summer crowds missed out on 2 1/2 weeks of being able to travel the entire length of Going-to-the-Sun Road because of a wildfire in Glacier National Park.
Road crews are giving much of the lost time back to what will surely be a more local crowd this fall.
Glacier officials this week announced that Sunday, Oct. 4, will be the last day vehicles will be able to drive between Logan Pass and St. Mary.
The east side of Going-to-the-Sun had been scheduled to close after Sept. 20 for road work.
“However, road crews have made great progress on paving and road rehabilitation projects and are able to extend access” through Oct. 4, Glacier spokeswoman Katelyn Liming said.
The ongoing road work will continue during the two weeks, and visitors should expect some traffic delays.
Several trails on the east side remain closed because of the still-active Reynolds Creek fire, and pullouts on the east side may also be closed because of road work and fire hazards.
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Eighteen of Going-to-the-Sun's 50 miles were closed between July 21 and Aug. 7 because of the Reynolds Creek fire, which started about four miles east of Logan Pass and burned near and across the popular road as it made a run in the direction of St. Mary.
The fire has burned 4,850 acres, some along the shoreline of St. Mary Lake, opening new vistas, albeit through charred forest. A larger wildfire, the 17,284-acre Thompson fire, is burning south of the Reynolds Creek fire in Glacier’s remote backcountry, and is having minimal effect on park activities.
Glacier’s free shuttle service on Going-to-the-Sun will operate through Sept. 7, as planned. Buses are running on a modified schedule on the east side of the Continental Divide because of the Reynolds Creek fire, and are stopping only at St. Mary, Rising Sun, Rising Sun Boat Dock, Gunsight Pass trailhead, Siyeh Bend and Logan Pass.
West-side shuttles are running on a normal schedule.
Park officials said the Logan Pass Visitor Center will be open through Sept. 30, and the St. Mary Visitor Center will be open through Oct. 4.
On the west side, the Apgar Visitor Center will move to a weekend-only schedule starting Oct. 17.
Access to Logan Pass from West Glacier usually ceases about the third week of October.