Glacier Park Photographer

Glacier Park Photographer
Saint Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island, Glacier National Park, Montana

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fall Colors, Wild Animals, Sun Road Closure!

It's been less than a stellar fall here in Glacier Park. It has been about average for color. There are few days left in the season, but it's almost over with the leafs almost all gone. They blow off quickly on the east side.

I spent my fall days chasing wildlife. It's been a great fall season for me!

SUN ROAD REPORT
Glacier Officials Announce Closure Date for Sun Road Alpine Section The Loop to Logan Pass closes Third Monday of October

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park officials announce the winter closure of the eight-mile alpine section of Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) between the Loop and Logan Pass on Monday, October 20 at 8 a.m. Park policy establishes a firm closing of this section of the Sun Road. Once
winterization is completed, this section of road will be reopened for hiking and bicycling as weather and road conditions permit.

This alpine closure allows park personnel to prepare the Sun Road for the winter. Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright noted, winterization of the upper road involves removal of guard rails and other removable barriers in at least 15 avalanche zones as well as removal of all signs, displays,trash cans, installation of snow pole and final culvert/drain cleaning.

“As we rehabilitate the alpine sections of the Sun Road, we have been adding more removable steel backed log barriers. This has helped us address the need to replace stone walls in avalanche prone areas, but it has added considerable winter preparation to remove all barriers,”
said Cartwright. Additionally, guard rails are removed with heavy equipment that requires access to both lanes of the Sun Road.

According Cartwright, “This October date for the set closing of the Sun Road alpine section allows park personnel more time to winterize the upper roadway in a safe manner without endangering employees who may be forced to work in hazardous weather conditions. A set closing date also allows managers to be more cost effective and better prepared by avoiding undue costs from damage to road structures and facilities and extra work time necessary to complete the winterization process during winter storms.” Cartwright added, “A motor vehicle restriction is also important to reduce
stress on park wildlife at a time when they are already stressed by changing climatic patterns, harsh weather and reduced food availability.”

Park managers strive to retain flexibility in allowing public motorized use of roads in the spring and fall, yet recognize that for the safety of workers, staffing, planning and environmental compliance, a consistent approach is needed. “This policy allows for a safer, systematic approach to winterize the alpine section of road while providing the visiting public with a better framework for planning their park travels,” Cartwright concluded.

Temporary closures of the alpine section before the third Monday in October may occur due to hazardous road and weather conditions. When this occurs, efforts are made to reopen the Sun Road as soon as road and weather conditions permit. Wintery weather, snow and ice caused overnight closures of the alpine section between Logan Pass and Big Bend four times last week, most recently on Friday, October 10. Weather and road conditions permitting, the west side will reopen to Logan Pass through the weekend and then will close for the season for vehicle use at The Loop at 8 a.m.,
October 20.

The east side of Logan Pass between Logan Pass and Jackson Glacier Overlook closed this fall on September 22 to allow for road repair work near the East Tunnel. The lower elevation section between St. Mary and Jackson Glacier Overlook remains open 14 miles for vehicle use.

Despite the alpine section’s closure, weather permitting, 37.5 miles of the Sun Road will remain open for vehicle use. This includes 23.5 miles from the West Glacier entrance to the Loop on the west side and the 14 miles from St. Mary to Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side.


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