Plowing Begins on ‘Going to the Sun Road’ in Glacier National Park, MT

Matt Scribner |
The immense amount of work crews most put in to clear Going to the Sun Road is evident in this picture (Image: Daily Interlake)

The annual task of clearing one of America’s most scenic by-ways, Going to the Sun Road, has begun. The road, which serves as the only pathway through Montana’s Glacier National Park, crosses over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass and tops out at 6,646 feet above sea level. It has long been considered one of the nation’s most beautiful roads, with gorgeous mountains, valleys, and glaciers everywhere you look.

Removing snow to ensure the road is passable for summer travelers is an extremely daunting task. With tight switchbacks that tower over steep drop-offs, the room for error is extremely low, and loss of life can occur if risk is not taken seriously. Engineering Equipment Operator Herb Ferguson commented on the dangers crews must take into consideration in an article that originally appeared in local news station KPAX’s website. He opines,

“You’re on new snow that nobody’s ever been through. So you can feel all the changes in the snow underneath the bulldozers. And that’s always a little bit scary. So it makes you pay attention but it’s a normal part of operating the machine. And it’s kind of fun. Even though you’re you know, there’s certain things that are scary in your life. Like when you go on a ride at the fair, but it’s also fun.”

Plowing cannot begin until April 1st. This is due to the need to minimize disturbances to animals and other wildlife that call Glacier National Park home, giving them time to recoup after the harsh Montana winter. Work on the road can also be halted at any time due to incoming storms, visibility restrictions, avalanche danger, or other issues.

Regardless of the difficulty of this task, crews have made solid progress already. They have removed snow up to Haystack Creek, which is situated just 10.5 road miles west of Logan Pass, the high point of the scenic byway. There is surely lots of work still to be done, highlighted by the fact that an opening date for the road has yet to be set, but it is good to see that this gorgeous road is beginning to be cleared for another busy summer tourist season.

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