Glacier National Park’s annual rite of spring gets underway this week and next — the clearing of its roads of winter snows.
Crews have already started on the east side — they were clearing the Chief Mountain Road last week and started the Two Medicine Road on Monday, park spokeswoman Lauren Alley said.
On April 1 they’ll start on the west side, plowing the Camas Road first and after it’s clear, they’ll start the Going-to-the-Sun Road beyond Lake McDonald Lodge.
Crews don’t plow the Camas Road directly down to the pavement, however. They usually leave an inch or so as to not damage the surface. It typically takes a few days for the ice to melt out.
On the east side, they’re also expected to start plowing the Many Glacier Road on April 1 as well as the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Crews are starting on the sun road east side early because of pavement preservation and sealing scheduled for this year.
The pavement preservation will happen on the Sun Road through most of June and then again in September. The park is avoiding work during the busy tourist season.
This year, the full length of the Sun Road won’t open to vehicles before June 22. Even then, motorists can anticipate delays on some sections of highway.
Hikers and bikers are generally allowed on the roads when crews aren’t plowing, though access to the Sun Road will be closed during weekday afternoons for pavement sealing work.
The following is the schedule for sealing and preservation work:
Spring-June 22: Avalanche Creek to Jackson Glacier Overlook
Spring-June 30: Chief Mountain Road (night work with traffic control in place)
Spring-early July: West Entrance Station to Avalanche Creek (with traffic control)
After Sept. 3: West Entrance Station to Avalanche Creek (with traffic control)
Sept. 2-Sept. 15: Avalanche Creek to Logan Pass (night work with traffic control)
Sept. 16-Sept. 30 (likely): Avalanche to Logan Pass will be closed to traffic, though Logan Pass will be accessible from the St. Mary Entrance. The west side to Logan Pass will reopen, weather permitting, after the work.
The park will also conduct pavement preservation in other areas throughout the summer, including Apgar Campground, Apgar Loop Road, Apgar Visitor Center, Lake McDonald Lodge parking lot, Logan Pass parking lot, Rising Sun Motel parking lot, St. Mary Visitor Center parking lot, St. Mary Campground, and the Swiftcurrent area. Portions of parking lots and campgrounds will be temporarily unavailable while this work occurs.
Any adjustment to the schedule will be posted on the park’s road status website at: https://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/roadstatus/roadstatus.cfm