Park Winter Services and Construction Update
The backcountry office is now closed; weekend backcountry permits issued in advance
West Glacier, MT - Many services within Glacier National Park are now closed or operating on winter schedules.
Overnight backcountry permits are being issued on weekdays at park headquarters as the Backcountry Permit Office is now closed for the winter season.
Visitors seeking backcountry permits may come to park headquarters in West Glacier, 64 Grinnell Drive, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to apply for and receive a permit, or call 406-888-7857 up to seven days in advance to have one prepared.
Same day weekend backcountry permits may be available at the Apgar Visitor Center. However, backcountry campers are encouraged to call during the week to have a permit prepared in advance as limited ranger staffing may delay permitting.
Construction along the Going-to-the-Sun Road will continue through November in some locations, depending on weather. The new culverts approximately 3 miles up lake from Apgar Village have been successfully installed in advance of spring runoff. A new accessible vault toilet has been constructed at the large turnout immediately south of the Avalanche Developed area, however it will remain closed to the public until completed in 2018. Additionally, improvements have been made along Lake McDonald to allow for resource protection and lakefront access.
Construction activities will continue in the spring including work along the portion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road around Apgar Village. A detour is currently in place through Apgar Village while that section of the road is impassable until spring completion. Other work will include paving operations beginning at the west entrance station and through the closed segment of the Apgar Curve. Trail crews will complete boardwalk access to the new Trail of the Cedars footbridge across Avalanche Creek. Routine pavement preservation work will also begin on the east side of the park in 2018.
Some other construction activities previously scheduled for this fall have been delayed due to the Sprague Fire and will continue after winter. Those include completing turnout improvements, slope stabilization along Upper McDonald Creek above North Lake McDonald Road, and widening the access road into the Avalanche Campground. The St Mary Entrance Station will be undergoing additional modifications next year to allow better traffic flow of oversized vehicles.
Next spring and summer, visitors can expect construction delays not exceeding 30 minutes.
In addition to regularly scheduled construction activities this winter and spring, the park will also undertake flood mitigation efforts in the Lake McDonald Lodge and Sprague Creek Campground areas.
That work will occur through December 22. Traffic delays and intermittent road closures along the Going-to-the-Sun Road may be required to perform the work. These urgent efforts are needed following the Sprague Fire to reduce the risk of severe flooding from areas up-slope where vegetation was lost.
The park has prepared a streamlined Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact to address this work. Due to the urgent nature of the project, it was not possible to solicit public comment. The assessment is available HERE.
Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and check park conditions before heading to the park. Many roads close to vehicle traffic beginning in November and December due to winter weather as well as scheduled construction activities.
The park maintains webpages on road status as well as winter activities and skiing and snowshoeing trail status to help plan visits. The park’s Twitter feed @GlacierNPS is also available for breaking updates.