Snow conditions, cool weather, and debris from snow slides are challenging some spring opening operations for trails, facilities and roads in Glacier National Park. Snow accumulations in the park are above average this year, and spring snowmelt has varied at different locations.
A weather system is predicted to impact the area beginning tonight through the next couple of days, including cooler temperatures and heavy precipitation. At this time, a winter storm warning has been issued in and around Glacier National Park for elevations above 6,500 feet with predictions of snow accumulations of one to two feet. The elevation at Logan Pass is 6,646 feet.
Numerous trails in Glacier National Park are still snow-covered. Park staff report damage to trails and backcountry campsites due to snow slides and large amounts of avalanche debris. The Ptarmigan Falls Bridge and Twin Falls Bridge have been removed due to winter damage and hazardous conditions. Temporary bridges are expected to be installed by early July. The Iceberg Lake Trail is closed to stock use until permanent repairs to the Ptarmigan Falls Bridge are complete. Permanent repair work on both bridges is anticipated to begin this fall.
Trails may traverse steep and sometimes icy snowfields and hikers are strongly advised to have the appropriate equipment and skills to navigate such areas, or perhaps visit those areas once conditions improve. Please visit the park's website for current trail status. Please report any hazardous or unusual trail or backcounty conditions by calling the park at 406-888-7800.
Frozen and damaged sewer and water lines caused some delays in seasonal opening activities for utilities park-wide. Rising Sun and the Swiftcurrent cabin areas experienced damaged water lines. The Apgar and Lake McDonald areas experienced issues with frozen sewer lines, and some broken water lines. The Cutbank, Many Glacier and Two Medicine Campgrounds experienced delayed openings due to abundant snow accumulation and slow snow melt.
A snow slide in the Alps area of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, about five miles west of Logan Pass, wiped out about 20-30 feet of rock wall along the road. Several new slide paths across the road have been encountered this spring, including the need for extensive snow and debris cleanup.
Snow removal operations on the Going-to-the-Sun Road continue with road crews working near the Big Drift and Lunch Creek areas east of Logan Pass. Above average snow accumulation and cool June temperatures have provided challenges for snow removal operations. The snow depth at the Big Drift is estimated to be about 80 feet, larger than recent years. Once the snow is removed, a thick layer of ice on the road is anticipated.
In addition to snow removal, road crews are working to install over 400 removable guard rails, sweep the road of rock debris, and clear snow from Logan Pass Visitor Center facilities including sidewalks and trails. Park road crew employees have begun working overtime in an effort to accomplish snow removal goals in a safe and timely manner, as well as other park employees assisting in the hand work to remove snow around facilities.
Snow removal and plowing progress, including images, can be found here.
Currently, visitors can drive about 16 miles from the West Entrance to Avalanche on the west side of the park, and one mile from the St. Mary Entrance to the foot of St. Mary Lake on the east side. It is anticipated that there will be vehicle access to the Jackson Glacier Overlook area on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road by this weekend, but it is dependent on weather conditions. Vehicle access to Logan Pass, and beyond Avalanche on the west side of park, is unknown at this time.
Hiking in Glacier National Park