Glacier National Park Opens Going-to-the-Sun Road at Long Last

by Amy Myers
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After weeks of weather-related delays, Glacier National Park’s scenic and incredibly popular Going-to-the-Sun Road is officially open for the season.

As of July 13, the park opened Going-to-the-Sun Road to the public. Typically, the park opens the vital road in late spring or early summer. However, winter weather and lots of precipitation have caused park officials to hold off on opening the road. This year’s opening ties as one of the latest that the park has ever seen, right beside its opening in 2011 from similar weather circumstances and 2020 from COVID-19 restrictions.

While this is certainly good news for visitors looking to access more of the national park, the opening comes with an asterisk.

“There will be some major work zones on Going-to-the-Sun Road this summer,” the park explained in its release. “Visitors will not be able to access Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance before 6 am due to night-time construction along Lake McDonald. There will be nightly closures between 10 pm and 6 am, from the foot of Lake McDonald to just west of the Sprague Creek Campground. Vehicles will have one opportunity at midnight to be piloted through the nightly closures. During the day, traffic lights will control a single lane through the construction area.”

On the topic of closures, the Highline Trail and Hidden Lake Trail from Logan Pass, Oberlin Climbing Route, and a portion of the Grinnell Trail still aren’t open “due to hazardous snow conditions and emerging vegetation.”

How to Navigate Glacier National Park’s Reservation System

Now that Going-to-the-Sun Road is open, you’ll need to get a vehicle reservation in order to access it. Glacier National Park requires these reservations to enter the Going-to-the-Sun corridor at the West Glacier Entrance, Camas Entrance and Rising Sun checkpoint during the park’s busy hours (6 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day). You won’t need vehicle reservations for any other part of the park. However, in order to get the most out of your trip to Montana, you’ll want to be sure you get all the proper paperwork.

Here are some hot tips and need-to-knows for reserving a trip to Glacier National Park:

  1. Secure your reservation early. Each day at 8 a.m. MDT, the national park will offer 24-hour advanced reservations before the effective day on Recreation.gov. Reservations are not available in person.
  2. Don’t be afraid to plan a longer stay. With Going-to-the-Sun Road now open, Glacier National Park will be offering a higher number of vehicle reservations for each day.
  3. Consider taking the shuttle as a backup. If you find you can’t book a reservation for your car or truck during your vacation days, no need to change your plans. Push comes to shove, you can just take the park’s shuttle along Going-to-the-Sun Road. But be sure to get there early. Spots are first-come, first-serve.
Outsider.com