Glacier National Park visitors should be prepared for changes

Posted at 6:30 PM, May 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 14:58:21-04

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – Folks heading to Glacier National Park should be prepared for some changes this spring and summer.

Park officials say that they expect some campgrounds or campsites, including some reservation campsites, will not be available by their projected opening dates.

Campground staff will contact visitors with campground reservations about moving to alternate spaces if necessary. Early season hikers should also consult the park’s trail status page to see trail clearing activity and projected trail clearing start dates.

The spring hiker-biker shuttle is now running on weekends and will continue until the Going-to-the-Sun Road opens through Logan Pass to vehicles. The shuttle will also run on Memorial Day.

The shuttle will depart from the Apgar Visitor Center and drop off at both Lake McDonald Lodge and Avalanche Creek.

Spring and summer construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road has begun, including work that was previously anticipated for last fall but was rescheduled due to the Sprague Fire.

Crews will be working on paving and roadbed work between the West Entrance Station and the area east of the four-way intersection in Apgar known as the Apgar Curve.

Traffic will detour through Apgar Village while that work is completed. A pilot car is being used between the West Entrance Station and the four-way intersection at Apgar.

Crews have also begun work on a section of North McDonald Road between the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the bridge over McDonald Creek, including culvert installation and roadbed replacement. The work is expected to last until mid-May.

Trailhead access impacted by this temporary closure includes Trout Lake, McDonald Lakeshore, and McDonald Creek. These trails can be accessed from the Rocky Point Trailhead as an alternate.

Park officials say that at the end of May, North McDonald Road and associated trailhead access will again be closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic for two additional days while paving that section of the road. That work is tentatively planned for the week of May 21, weather permitting.

Many turnouts between Apgar and Avalanche Creek will be unavailable this season while they are rehabilitated. Those turnouts will be marked with traffic cones and drums.

In late summer, crews will work above Triple Arches for approximately one week to install veneer on the removable railing sections that were completed last summer. Traffic delays are anticipated to be minimal for this work.

A maximum 30 minute traffic delay will be in effect for the west side of the park this summer due to scheduled construction between the West Entrance Station and Avalanche Creek.

Park officials say that in September, the park will start on a road repair roughly 1.5 miles west of Avalanche Creek. Once Avalanche Campground is closed for the season, Avalanche Campground Road will close for approximately two weeks beginning Sept. 17 for rehabilitation.

Glacier National Park reports that in response to congestion and resource impacts, the park has updated several park regulations for the 2018 season.

  • Visitors will not be permitted to hold campsites for other parties not yet present.
  • People with hammocks should ensure that the webbing they use to attach their hammock to a tree is at least one inch in width to avoid harming tree bark.
  • The area around Big Bend will be closed to off-trail travel to reduce trampling, though climbing access will be available.
  • A 21-foot vehicle limit will be in place on all North Fork roads due to road width and increasing use, in accordance with the North Fork Plan that identified this action should roads become significantly more congested.
  • Llamas are no longer included in the list of permitted pack animals to reduce the spread of domestic diseases to wild bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, moose, elk, and caribou.

Construction is complete on the Many Glacier Hotel following more than a decade of rehabilitation to improve critical life-safety elements and restore historic finishes. All rooms and public areas are now available for use.

This summer, some areas again may temporarily fill, and visitors will be asked to return when congestion clears and parking spaces and roadways become available for use. This year, the park will be using its Twitter page to communicate live congestion updates throughout the season.

The park welcomed 3.3 million visitors in 2017, marking a one million person increase over 2015 visitation levels.