Thursday, October 17, 2013

Glacier National Park Is Now Open / Park Updates

Glacier National Park is open and welcoming visitors after a 16-day Federal Government shutdown that closed all national parks across the country.

Approximately 250 park employees were furloughed during the shutdown. Approximately 20-30 park employees continued to work during the shutdown to manage the park closure and provide for protection of federal lands, waterways, buildings, equipment and other property owned within park.

Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, “We are pleased to have the park open for visitors and continue with our responsibilities of managing and protecting the resources.”

As of Thursday morning, the park’s website and social media sites were active, after being inactive or removed during the shutdown. Barricades at park entrances and throughout the park were removed early Thursday morning. Park road crews began monitoring roads, including conducting a sweep of the Going-to-the-Sun Road to clean debris/rocks from the road. When the road is clear of debris, public access will be available to Big Bend through Sunday, October 20.

Mow said, “Weather systems have been consistently bringing rain, snow, and winter conditions through the upper elevations of the park, including the alpine section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.” The first seasonal closure of the Going-to-the-Sun Road due to poor weather conditions this fall was September 23 when the road was only accessible to The Loop. Between September 23 and October 1 ( Federal Government Shutdown and closure of the park), the Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed and reopened seven times due to weather conditions.

There is approximately two feet of snow in the Logan Pass Parking Area and snow slides of six to eight feet along the inside of the road in the Rim Rocks area located just below Logan Pass.

Park road crew employees are implementing winterization activities along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, including the removal of more than 400 guard rails and installation of approximately 600 snow poles. Implementing winterization activities along the Going-to-the-Sun Road is instrumental in protecting the historic road and numerous improvements made during the on-going road rehabilitation efforts. Proper and responsible winterization activities help maintain employee safety and aid in the opening of the road in the spring.

Apgar, Bowman Lake, Kintla Lake, Quartz Creek and St. Mary Campgrounds are open to primitive camping. Campgrounds in primitive status have pit toilets available, no potable or drinking water, limited number of sites, and fees are reduced to $10 per night. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and reminded that any water taken from streams or lakes requires treatment before use. Current campground status is available here.

The Apgar Visitor Center is open every weekend, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information about the park please click here or call 406-888-7800.

Glacier National Park is a great place to visit anytime of the year, but during the fall is an especially wonderful time. Hikers will have many options for viewing the beautiful fall colors, especially those of aspens and western larch. Here are a few great hikes to consider:

* Redrock Falls and Apikuni Falls in the Many Glacier area.

* Rockwell Falls, Running Eagle Falls and Firebrand Pass in the Two Medicine area.

* Virginia Falls and the Beaver Pond Loop near the St. Mary entrance.

* The Forest and Fire Nature Trail near the Camas Creek Entrance (just north of Apgar). Bowman Lake near the northwestern corner of the park is another great choice.

* Avalanche Lake, Rocky Point and the Johns Lake Loop in the Lake McDonald area are some other great choices. Any of the trails on southern end of the park, such as Loneman Lookout, Scalplock Mountain Lookout or the South Boundary Trail, are all excellent options as well.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

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