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Glacier National Park prepares for winter season

Concession operations, boat inspection stations, lakes, roads will begin closing

News from Glacier National Park

WEST GLACIER – Glacier National Park has begun winterizing procedures to prepare for the fall and winter season.

The Sprague Fire has impacted some closures already this year, including the early closure of the Lake McDonald Lodge and Village Inn. All other hotels operated by Glacier National Park Lodges inside the park are also now closed for the season. Guided horseback rides with Swan Mountain Outfitters inside the park and guided boat tours with Glacier Park Boat Company have also ended.

 Sun Tours will operate through mid-October, and red buses will continue operating until Oct. 8. Glacier Guides will continue offering guided hikes through October.

Glacier Institute classes will end on Oct. 8, though they typically resume in late winter or early spring.

Park visitor centers and ranger stations close at various times throughout the fall. The Logan Pass Visitor Center will close on Oct. 1. The St. Mary Visitor Center will close Oct. 9. The Apgar Visitor Center will move to weekend hours on Oct. 10. 

Shuttle service (currently only operating on the east side of the park due to fire) will end Sept. 24.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is currently closed at the foot of Lake McDonald on the west side of the park due to ongoing firefighting activities. In the event that there is an opportunity to reopen to Logan Pass, the road will still close on the west side on Oct. 9 as previously scheduled due to construction. If weather conditions allow, road access to Logan Pass will continue through the St. Mary entrance until Oct. 16, which is the third Monday of the month and typically the day that Logan Pass access ends for the winter.

The road construction on the west side beginning Oct. 9 will facilitate a significant culvert replacement project approximately four miles up Lake McDonald. The culvert has washed out several times over the last five years including twice last year, and once this year causing temporary road closures. For the two-week culvert replacement project, the Going-to-the-Sun Road will be closed at Apgar Loop Road.

Hiker-biker access beyond the culvert worksite will likely not be possible during this period. On Oct. 21, the Going-to-the-Sun Road will reopen again as far as Avalanche to vehicles, as is typical for the fall season. Hiker-biker access will resume above the Avalanche gate. Standard hiker-biker restrictions will be in place as road winterizing procedures begin. The gate closure will move from Avalanche to Lake McDonald Lodge on Dec. 15.

There is also currently a detour in place through Apgar Village due to road work along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the Apgar area. The park expects that detour to remain in place through mid-spring.

Aquatic invasive species boat inspection stations will also be closing for the season, and with them, lakes will close to boating for the winter.

The last dates to receive a boat inspection and access park lakes by watercraft for the season are as follows: Two Medicine and Many Glacier - Sept. 29, St. Mary – Oct. 13,  Lake McDonald (also serving the North Fork) – Oct. 31.

Current information about park roads, weather conditions, and visitor services can be found by visiting Glacier National Park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/glac/ or by calling park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

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