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Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

Oregon
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Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

We're planning to tour Glacier Park this weekend, and I was surprised to see the GTS was closed yesterday and again today between Avalanche and Logan Pass. Is the weather that bad?!? The upcoming reports just say "Partly Cloudy"...

I'm concerned because the whole itinerary was depending on the scenic drive (west-to-east). We've got a cabin booked in St. Mary's... Any ideas? I'm travelling with my husband and 3 teenagers....

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1. Re: Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

Oh, no, I'm in the same boat! Leaving next week. I'm from North Carolina and just freak out with bad weather.

Pennsylvania
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2. Re: Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

It would be a shame if the road stayed closed the whole time you are there, but it may reopen if the plows clear the road. I heard they got about a foot of snow.

If the road stays closed, you can reach St. Mary's via Route 2 along the southern edge of the park. There are lots of beautiful trails on the St. Mary's side of Going to the Sun Road. You can also head up to Many Glacier and to Waterton (in Canada). If you go to Waterton, be sure to bring birth certificates and passports for everyone crossing the border.

Many Glacier has some of the best trails in the park. The early snow will make the scenery especially pretty.

Have fun!

Powhatan, Virginia
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3. Re: Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

Herhseysdad is right. Just drive south of Glacier, through Essex. Didn't make it through there on our visit last year. We were there the end of Aug until Labor Day 2005. Had snow on 9/1/05! And once you've driven/ridden Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass, you understand why they close it! Have fun!

San Mateo...
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4. Re: Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

Looks like the Going to the Sun road will reopen tomorrow (9/14). We just got back from a week long stay in West Glacier, and we drove Going to the Sun 3 times (2 times west to east, and once east to west). All 3 times were amazing. We did drive Hwy 2 on one occasion, but we did not enjoy it nearly as much as Going to the Sun road and it seemed to take just as long.

In case you were wondering....here are my trail recommendations:

I highly recommend the Avalanche Lake trail (it'll take about 3 hours round trip if you stop at the lake for a lunch break). I found the Hidden Lake trail at Logan Pass. even more rewarding as we got to see mountain goats (if you have binoculars, you can see goats on the mountain side as well as the ones near the trail) A great short hike is Baring Falls (I think that's the name of it). The trail head is underneath the highway on the way to St. Mary lake (driving west to east). It's only about 1 mile round trip....make sure you walk under the road to find the trailhead, as most people seemed to mistake the small waterfall near the road as the actual "sight to see". Also, once you reach the falls, follow the trail past the falls (to the left if you are looking at the falls) as it will lead you right to the shore of St. Mary lake...it's less than 50 yards from the falls.

Have a great trip!!! It was an amazing one for us!

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5. Re: Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

krslong - thanks for the feedback! I remember your posts back when you were planning your trip. It's great to have people like you report back in with trip reports. We're leaving next Thursday! Any other suggestions?

San Mateo...
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6. Re: Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

wintersummer-

If you are staying on the West side for a night or two, I would suggest driving up to Polebridge and then onto Bowman Lake. Most of the road to Polebride is unpaved, but if you take the Outside North Fork Road (as opposed to the inside N.F. road...very bumpy) the road is fairly smooth. The drive from the Polebridge park entrance to Bowman Lake was a lot more bumpy, but we virtually had the lake to ourselves once we arrived. We had a 4wd vehicle, but we saw several 2wd cars (PT cruiser was one) making the trek to Bowman Lake as well. In Polebridge, they have a great general store that serves fresh baked cookies, breads, etc.

We took our 2 dogs with us, so finding lodging that would fit our needs was a bit of a challenge. We decided that it would be easiest to book a cabin near West Glacier for the whole week, instead of trying to find accomodations in each of the different areas around the park. If we didn't have our dogs, it would have been easier to explore the whole park if we stayed a few nights in West Glacier, and a few nights in either St. Mary or Many Glacier. We also didn't get to Waterton because we felt it would have been too long of a day trip. We kept reminding ourselves that it was just another reason to come back.

I can't emphasize enough how beautiful the hike was to Hidden Lake from Logan Pass. It might be more of a challenge with the new snow, but I'm sure it will be worth it.

We drove through Yellowstone and the Tetons before returning home, and although Yellowstone offers upclose views of wildlife, I kept thinking how I missed the stunning mountains of Glacier. Unfortunately, the Tetons were completed clouded in, so I didn't get to see their stunning beauty that you see in all the pictures.

I'm sure you'll have a great trip...the leaves were already changing when we were there, so they'll probably be in full fall colors when you go. Be sure the check back in with your trip report when you get back!!

jwr
Houston, tx
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7. Re: Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

Wintersummer:

A few thoughts....1) Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint is a world-class day-hike (5.5 miles 1-way with 1600ft of elevation gain, leaving from the Many Glacier Hotel area). You can cut that distance to 3.8 miles 1-way by taking the very enjoyable $13 concession boat from the Many Glacier Hotel, but you will still have the 1600 ft climb. The great thing about this hike is you actually get a close-up view of a glacier, which may be gone 20 years from now. Also, you will have wonderful view of the turquoise color of Grinnell Lake below. In fact, you can see 3 lakes down below. The pond just beneath Grinnell Glacier is filled with icebergs and is quite sriking visually. Finally, you have the added excitement that just around the next turn you may run into a grizzly, as 2 hikers did on Aug 18 on this very trail. However, if you do not hike alone & make lots of noise you should be fine, it's a busy trail. The other outstanding hike I took in Glacier a couple weeks ago was the Highline Trail, which is accessed at Logan's Pass across the GTTS road from the visitor center. Hike for an hour or 2, then turn around & return. If you are adventurous, you can make this a day-hike by coninuing on to the Loop Trailhead and hitchhiking back to your car. If I return to Glacier, I would definately go on a 2-day hike, overnighting at Granite Park Chalet. Hidden Lake & Avalanche hikes were ok, but no comparison to Grinnell Glacier & Highline, imho. Iceberg Lake is ok, but no icebergs in the lake. Ptarmigan Tunnell is the better option, but is very steep (5.3 mi/2300ft) and if you hike to the tunnel, be sure and continue on another 100 yards as the view really opens up past the tunnel.

jwr
Houston, tx
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8. Re: Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

wintersummer....2) I would also highly recommend going to Waterton Lakes. If you have time, the day-hike to Crypt Lake has been ranked one of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies. Carhtew-Alderson is another great day-hike. Even if you don't hike, Waterton is worth seeing and should be nearly deserted when you get there. A drive to Red Rock Canyon & a stroll thru the Prince-of-Wales Hotel would be nice. 3) The Park Cafe in St.Mary may be closed for the season when you arrive. But the Cattle Baron Supper Club in Babb should be open, go for the steak & eggs breakfast for best value. 4) If you have time, it would be worth a short drive down to East Glacier to see 1 of the great lodges in our natioal park system, the Glacier Park Lodge. Then stop for at least a quick look at beautiful 2 Medicine Lake. 5) Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake is the most photographed spot in Glacier, it's only a few miles west of St. Mary visitor center, but not well marked, so ask for specific mileage directions. 6) Be sure and hang around the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in front of the cafe in the early evening 6-7pm, you will probably see folks with hi-powered telescopes looking at the grizzlies on the slopes. They will gladly let you have a look as well. Have a great trip!

Oregon
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9. Re: Going to the Sun Hwy is Closed! What to do?

Thank you all for your rapid response! The highway DID re-open so my itinerary stayed as planned. The new snow coating the peaks will definitely improve our pictures, and we benefited from the light crowds...However, the park and services around the park are definitely going into shut-down mode. We dined at Many Glacier Hotel on Sat. and they were planning to close down completely on Sun. (at least the restaurant). Still, Wintersummer, try to get up there for the extraordinary location. Our waiter remarked what a Spiritual Place it is...

There are true advantages to the Low Season even if the services close down. The best part is the feeling of solitude in the face of stunning Glacier Park wilderness.

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