Clearing snow is ‘monumental challenge' even in mid-June

·2 min read

Plowing snow in Glacier National Park is not for the faint of heart. (NPS)

Although the official start to the season is still more than a week away, summerlike heat is in full swing across most of the United States with daily thunderstorms and multiple reports of 100-degree temperatures across part of the central United States. However, one corner of the country still looks like winter.

In a scene that looked more like the aftermath of a historic winter blizzard, crews in Glacier National Park were hard at work using heavy machinery to clear Going-to-the-Sun Road this week. This 50-mile-long road is one of two ways that visitors can drive to Logan Pass, the highest point in the park that can be accessed by a vehicle, which sits at an elevation of 6,646 feet.

While some parts of the road remain open year-round, one high-elevation section close to Logan Pass called "the Big Drift" is known for being buried in snow nearly half as tall as the 167-foot-high Niagara Falls

"This spot collects drifted snow that is blown across the Continental Divide by prevailing winds, and it can reach up to 80 feet deep," Glacier National Park said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

"Plowing Going-to-the-Sun Road is a monumental challenge each year," the park said.

Crews using heavy machinery to clear yards of snow from Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana, on June 8, 2021. (Glacier NP)

Each year presents a new challenge as the amount of snow that piles up in the winter determines when park officials can open the entirety of Going-to-the-Sun Road to the public.

Most years, the Big Drift section of the road is not cleared of snow until late June or early July and is only open until the third Monday in October when it shuts down for the winter.

Visitors eager to visit Logan Pass can access the area from a second road that leads up the other side of the mountain, but this road typically is not open to the public until late May or early June.

Logan Pass in Glacier National Park in August compared to what it looks like in April. (National Park Service)

This year will be the first time since 2019 that visitors will be able to drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road to access Logan Pass due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year was the "first time in history a portion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road remained closed for an entire season," the park said.


Visitors planning a trip to Glacier National Park this summer who are thinking about driving up this scenic stretch of road will need to plan ahead of time.

The National Park Service requires reservations for the road this year, which can be made online up to 60 days in advance.

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