Plowing Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road

In Western Montana, it’s currently one of the most wonderful times of the year. Why? Because the snowplow crews in Glacier National Park are in the midst of plowing the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Each spring, the plow crews make their way up the road–while it is covered in snow–and start to uncover one of the most scenic drives in the country.

Okay, I know you may be thinking, “Tia, how much snow could there possibly be on the road?” My answer: A LOT.

The “Big Drift,” located east of Logan Pass, can reach depths of up to 90 feet. (To put it in perspective, that’s like taking 15, 6 feet tall men and standing them on top of each other). Every year, the plow crew working on the west side of the road and the plow crew working on the east side of the road meet at the Big Drift and together tackle one of their biggest challenges.

This photo from spring 2013 shows crews starting to tackle the Big Drift.  Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

This photo from spring 2013 shows crews starting to tackle the Big Drift. Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Here’s a look at plowing photos from this spring…

Red Rock Slide on April 10.  Photo: GlacierNPS

Red Rock Slide on April 10.
Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Clearing slide debris on April 16.  Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Clearing slide debris on April 16.
Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Grizzly Slide (1 mile east of the Loop) on April 24.  Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Grizzly Slide (one mile east of the Loop) on April 24.
Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Little Granite (2 miles east of the Loop) on April 30.  Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Little Granite (two miles east of the Loop) on April 30.
Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Holy snow.  Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Holy snow.
Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Near Haystack on May 7. Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Near Haystack on May 7. Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Plow crews 4 miles west of Logan Pass.  Photo: GlacierNPS

Plow crews four miles west of Logan Pass.
Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

The view toward Logan Pass and the Going-to-the-Sun Road on May 14.  Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

The view toward Logan Pass and the Going-to-the-Sun Road on May 14. Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Near Big Bend on May 15.  Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Near Big Bend on May 15.
Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Cutting through the snow near Big Bend on May 20.  Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

Cutting through the snow near Big Bend on May 20.
Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

The plows make progress near Siyeh Bend on May 23. Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

The plows make progress near Siyeh Bend on May 23.   Photo courtesy: GlacierNPS

And if you thought the only thing that the plow crews have to do is plow the road…think again. After the road is cleared, hundreds of guard rails are installed to make summer road trips on the Going-to-the-Sun Road safer.

To the Glacier National Park plow crews, I’m sure you’ll say “Listen lady, we’re just doing our jobs.” But regardless, this girl would like to give you a hearty THANK YOU for putting in the time and hours needed to open the road and introduce people to one of the most beautiful places in the world.

xo,
TT

PS: If you want to keep up with how many miles of the road are open, you can do so here. To view more plowing photos, visit the Glacier National Park Flickr page.

PPS: Yesterday, it was reported by KAJ that plowing in the park is going so well that the road is expected to open on time, meaning we should be able to cruise the Going-to-the-Sun Road in its entirety on Friday, June 20 (weather dependent).

15 thoughts on “Plowing Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road

  1. R Collins

    What a tremendous task the plow operators face! I am pleased to hear the possible open date is June 20th because that is the day we arrive!!! This will be our first trip to Glacier and we are so excited!

    Reply
    1. tiatroy Post author

      Great, we can’t wait to welcome you to Montana! If you need any suggestions on where to go and things to do, let me know.

      Reply
  2. Esther

    Cant wait to visit this year. We used to live in EAST Glacier and taught school in Browning. The Park was our “backyard”, enjoying it through the seasons until the snow level became prohibitive. Our fav place to visit and stay.

    Reply
  3. Scott VanTassel

    We just made our first trek into glacier last week! I was thinking that we should have Waited until the road was open, but I’m very glad we didn’t. Too much to see and do for many trips to come! Everything about this place is so awesome. Many thanks to all of the amazing park staff for all your hard work!

    Reply
  4. Pamela Haggerty

    Glacier is my favorite place in America. Our family really enjoyed our visit last July and will go back soon! Thanks for all your hard work to keep this park pristine. Keep protecting for our kids and the next generations to enjoy. 🙂

    Reply
  5. micheal heiser

    I lived in Montana in the 1960’s and loved going to Glacier as much as possible,now live in Texas and need to return there to rejuvinate my body it is truly god’s country and need to be blessed once again!

    Reply
  6. Karen Hilt

    I agree, access to one of the most beautiful places on earth! We have been there many times and would love to come again. I can never get enough of Glacier Park and this road. I applaud the crews efforts to open the road – what a project! Holy Snow is right!

    Reply
  7. jennifer munds/noland

    Yes, i lived in Whitefish MT and my stepdad Woody Collins used to work in Glacier Park in the 1980’s. So, i was Blessed enough to be able to visit the park All the time! We took Many Friends and family members there for day trips, and Always BLEW their minds! Glacier Park and Northwestern MT Truely Are GOD’SCOUNTRY! I havent been back to MT or Glacier in Years, and im having withdrawls! L.O.L.:-) I live in TX now and it a Wonderfully Friendly state, but i Miss seeing That Beautiful Gods country Alot!! Do yourself a favor and put this on your Bucket List on #1! God Bless you All up there!

    Reply
  8. DAVE WILTSE

    MY WIFE AND I TRAVELED FROM NEW ENGLAND TO MONTANA FOR A RELATIVE’S WEDDING. WE RENTED A MOTORCYCLE AND HEADED DUE NORTH IN EARLY SEPT. EVEN THOUGH WE LOOKED AT GLACIER ON-LINE BEING THERE COULDNOT BE SURPASSED WITH ANY PICTURE. TRULY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOTS IN THE WORLD. LONG LIVE OUR NATIONAL PARKS

    Reply
  9. Zeb Friudenberg

    Man I have nothing holding me back from leaving Texas and moving to this beautiful land that I keep hearing about except for the fact that I don’t have any contacts to go and work…. I work for Brazoria County Road and Bridge and am excellent with heavy machinery and also love to get down and get my hands dirty swinging a hammer! 🙂 I’ll be 28 in August and have been daydreaming about living in mountain range of Montana since I was a child! Boy it would be awesome to get a county job up there and transfer over if possible, even if that means I have to start at rock-bottom all over again!

    Reply
  10. Doug Henderson

    We live in southern Alberta and travel to the flathead valley area numerous times a year. It is an absolutely spectacular drive when we can go over the logans pass as soon as possible when it opens in the late spring. To see that much snow still clinging to the sides of the mountains and along the road is amazing! All the waterfalls along the way make for a very refreshing trip and the clean fresh air is intoxicating. If you ever get a chance to make this drive don’t pass it up!! It will stay in your memory forever. Can’t wait to for it to open again this year!!

    Reply

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