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Old 06-23-2014, 08:42 AM   #1
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Glacier National Park, 2014

I have been in the Glacier National Park area for the past few days. It is beautiful as usual but a couple of comments for this season.

As of yesterday (6/22/14), the Going to the Sun Highway was still not open. Road conditions and so on are available on line though at:

Glacier National Park Current Road Status

Campground information is at:

Glacier National Park Campground Status

It does look like the Going to the Sun Highway will have a lot of construction on the East side of the Pass this year. I drove it yesterday as far as it is open and most of it is currently gravel, in preparation for a total repaving job. Many parking areas were closed or had quite limited parking available. Sun Point looks to be the contractor staging area and may not be open at all this year.

Glacier is still beautiful, no matter what the road conditions or weather.
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Old 06-23-2014, 09:02 AM   #2
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We are loving our national parks to death. With so much use the facilities wear down over time and roads need to be repaired. About the only time you can work on the Going to the Sun highway is in the middle of tourist season. On the one hand, it is sad that people come a great distance and not be able to see all of the park. But, on the other hand, I for one am glad that they are fixing the roads and taking care of this magnificent gem.
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:05 AM   #3
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We are loving our national parks to death. With so much use the facilities wear down over time and roads need to be repaired. About the only time you can work on the Going to the Sun highway is in the middle of tourist season. On the one hand, it is sad that people come a great distance and not be able to see all of the park. But, on the other hand, I for one am glad that they are fixing the roads and taking care of this magnificent gem.
I disagree with your comment regarding us "loving our parks to death." From what I've observed the National Park Service is not maintaining the infrastructure and in some instances is shutting down visitor facilities. Many NPS campgrounds have not been updated or renovated for decades. Sites are small, roads are crumbling, restrooms are primitive or outdated and poorly maintained, mowing and trimming is infrequent or non-existent, and basic services (water and electric) do not exist. The National Park Service seems indifferent or hostile to citizens desiring to camp in recreational vehicles. Primitive camping seems to be the focus of today's NPS.

At the same time camping rates continue to escalate in NPS campgrounds. Last summer we paid $19.00 to stay at Julian Price campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The grass was knee high, the site was nothing more than a wide shoulder on the road through the campground, the road surface was full of potholes, the restrooms are old and have no showers, there are no water or electric hookups (much less sewer), the picnic tables had moss growing on the surfaces, and many of the sites are too small to handle more than a pop-up or tent. Travel 60 miles north on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Stone Mountain State Park campground with 41 nice large RV campsites with water and 50 amp electricity hookups, nice bathhouses, grill, and picnic table for $22 per night. What is NPS doing with the $19 it is collecting at Julian Price? It isn't spending it on maintenance and upgrading the facilities. Fortunately states are providing RV travelers with decent facilities while the NPS spends the money it collects on other things.
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:13 AM   #4
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Thanks for sharing the information. We planned to be there in a couple weeks. Looks like we may change our plans to be there a little later.

I'll be towing my 25'. I have 4wd, but I'm wondering if the grades will be too steep if there is loose gravel. I would like some advice; should I try to tow my trailer the entire length of the Going to the Sun Road?
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:18 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info, much appreciated!

Yes it's a shame the road will be in poor condition and/or impassable due to construction.

However, our national parks have been consistently and severely under-funded for many years. As a result, the National Park Service has a nationwide maintenance backlog of more than $11 billion. Here's an article in the Seattle times about the problem. Stateā€™s national parks: lean times in natureā€™s grandeur | Local News | The Seattle Times
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:24 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by A W Warn View Post
Thanks for sharing the information. We planned to be there in a couple weeks. Looks like we may change our plans to be there a little later.

I'll be towing my 25'. I have 4wd, but I'm wondering if the grades will be too steep if there is loose gravel. I would like some advice; should I try to tow my trailer the entire length of the Going to the Sun Road?
Afraid your trailer won't be going with you on the GTTSH. Maximum length is 21' and 8' wide. The best way to view this park is by use of the free shuttle buses. You can get on and off at designated stops and explore that area. Even this would be difficult to do in your own vehicle.

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Old 06-23-2014, 10:46 AM   #7
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Yes, no assemblies or vehicles longer than 21' have been allowed over the Going to the Sun Highway in many years, so you cannot tow over that piece of road no matter what. To go from East side to West side or vice versa with an RV you use highway 2, which runs at the bottom side of the park.

I only wanted to point out that the road on the East side would be under construction for a while this year so you would know that. The West side has been under construction for about 4 years now, and is mostly done. The East side will probably only take this season to complete.
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:39 PM   #8
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2011 the GTTSH didn't open until July 13. They had above average snowfall. We went the 1st week of August. Perfect weather, most trails were open but there were times you hiked over some snow fields and the wildflowers unbelievable.

2012 we revisited again in early August and hiked the trails we missed the year before; Grinnell and Highline.

This year the reports are above average snowfall. I would recommend making your trip in August especially if you are planning on day hikes.

the GTTSH is always seems to be under repair. Yes the NPS campgrounds are a challenge for larger RVs. We went in a 17' Casita in 2011 and 2012. A smaller RV allows more choice in campsites. We would never have gotten our 25ft Classic at the 2012 site we chose at Fish Creek Campground. Still there were plenty of larger RVs in the campground.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:30 PM   #9
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In 2013, Going-to-the-Sun Road opened on June 21. I happened to be visiting that afternoon because I was on a business trip to Calgary and our office there was closed because it was in a mandatory flood evacuation zone. I was able to drive across the continental view, and the setting sun illuminated the natural beauty of the scenery splendidly. Despite nearly driving into a grizzly bear, the beauty inspired me to return there for my summer vacation.

The trailhead for the Highline trail was covered in snow and ice, and there was a trail closed sign. The next day some idiot ignored the signs and fell to his death from the trail. Another died by accident hiking up a small ravine along that trail. And then a woman pushed her new husband off it, killing him.

The road was still open when a drove up from Ohio in August, after the deaths. It was being intensively reconstructed, and there were delays and short-term (minutes-to-hours) closures. One day I drove across a stretch of road where construction equipment was staged. The next morning, that stretch of road, roadbed, and subroadbed were largely gone. There was ramp at either end connecting the road surface to the temporary road 4-5 feet below, and one had to take it very slow. I'd drive past pullouts and find that they were closed due to fresh paving, only to come back several hours later and find them open, or a pullout I'd be planning to stop at on the way back was suddenly closed because they were planning to repave.

This was very frustrating, but the beauty of the surroundings, and the fun of exploring them, more than made up for it. Also, I know how very necessary this effort is. As I understand it, since it has been built the road has received only maintenance, standard and emergency repairs, and the occasional surface repaving.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:33 PM   #10
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Yes, no assemblies or vehicles longer than 21' have been allowed over the Going to the Sun Highway in many years, so you cannot tow over that piece of road no matter what.
The only thing allowed to tow are tow trucks towing disabled and broken down vehicles (and construction vehicles for the road work). If you ever see a tow truck coming around a curve, be sure to exercise caution, as they may be going over the center line a bit.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:40 PM   #11
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The only way to drive the GTTSH and have fun is either take the shuttle to Logan Pass either from St Mary or from Apgar or to take a Red Bus tour. We have done both. We took a Red Bus tour from Many Glacier Hotel to McDonald Lodge and back in 2011. Well worth it in the open top old buses. Let someone else do the driving and listen to the fascinating stories of the history of the park from the driver. Logan Pass parking lot is a zoo but the Red Busses have reserved sites. The Shuttles can be a little frustrating but not as much as trying to find parking at Logan Pass and other sites along the GTTSH.

We are hoping to get back there in the next couple of years. Still more day hikes I need to experience.
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Old 06-23-2014, 02:11 PM   #12
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I have been over the Going to the Sun Road many times. The only way to see it is on a motorcycle.
You can see so much when you don't have a roof above you. You can smell the flowers etc. and you don't have to peddle.
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Old 06-23-2014, 03:19 PM   #13
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If you're early enough or late enough in the season, though, forget bothering with the bus. OTOH, if you're there in July or August, you might want to take the bus. It depends upon the timing. If you're planning to take trails from Logan Pass and can make it up to the pass early enough, you have nothing to worry about. If you are taking the bus, be sure to check the bus schedule and make it to the stop ahead of time. I missed the bus to Logan Pass by about 3 minutes and would have had to wait quite a bit for the next one. I drove instead, but had to park at the next pullout/lot west of Logan Pass because the Logan Pass lot was full; this added an extra half mile in each direction to my Highline Pass/Loop hike. Thankfully, I caught the bus back from the Loop with no problem.

That use of the bus is almost as important as getting to Logan Pass from the campgrounds and entrances. There are a lot of good day hikes possible where you can hike out and take the bus back. It drastically expands the number of different hikes one can take without having to make ever one an out-and-back.
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Old 06-24-2014, 05:58 AM   #14
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I have been over the Going to the Sun Road many times. The only way to see it is on a motorcycle.
You can see so much when you don't have a roof above you. You can smell the flowers etc. and you don't have to peddle.
Went over last year just a few days after it opened. We were on bikes (motor) and had a blast. I totally agree with your statement.
Interesting note.. One of the guys I was with just rode straight through and had to wait for me on the other side. He was unimpressed. Said he'd been on roads in Colorado he thought were better. I think he was homesick.
I thought it was spectacular!
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