Park-to-Park stop No. 4: A detour up Going-to-the-Sun
We’re interrupting our regularly scheduled program – AKA Stop No. 4 on our virtual Park-to-Park journey- for a special notice: Going-to-the-Sun Road has opened to vehicle traffic on the west side.
It’s a summer right of passage each year in Montana when the highway through Glacier opens. And this year it’s a touch earlier than most. Actually, it fits into our trip pretty nicely.
- Read our Park-to-Park story inside the May/June issue here
The announcement Wednesday means it’s the earliest opening in a decade, according to Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin.
It’s still a winter wonderland at Logan Pass, where (Park spokesperson Denise) Germann said visitors will encounter a snow-covered landscape, not to mention temperatures that are running 25 to 30 degrees cooler than ones found in Flathead Valley floors this week.
Any wind will make it feel even chillier.
While the entire 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun is slated to open on June 19, drivers should still expect delays of up to 30 minutes on the east side of the park this summer as the road work continues. Sun Point, which is being used as a staging area for the road rehabilitation, will remain closed to all visitor uses this summer.
Just four years ago, Going-to-the-Sun had its latest opening since 1933, the year it was dedicated on July 15. In 2011, deep snows and bad weather delayed it until July 13.
So what are you waiting for? Get up to Glacier!
We’ll have more great Glacier stories in our upcoming July/August issue. Subscribe today and don’t miss a Montana moment.
Going-to-the-Sun Road: The ‘art’ of moving snow
Snowplow crews are making headway in their work to clear Glacier’s epic roadway.
Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin has the story:
The annual opening of this iconic two-lane highway through the heart of Glacier National Park signals the full-bore start of tourist season in this part of Montana, and so the date Going-to-the-Sun is ready for traffic is an important one to lots of people.
And we don’t know it.
What we do know is that when snowplow crews on the west side reach Oberlin Bend near Logan Pass, Glacier officials escort a gaggle of reporters up to watch them work.
- View a video of the plowing progress on Going-to-the-Sun
That happened Monday, as machinery labored its way through a winter’s worth of snow, even as more snow fell.
A year ago – with significantly more snowfall for crews to deal with – the annual journalists’ trek to Oberlin Bend didn’t happen until June 5. The road went on to open on July 3.
This year, they’ve reached Oberlin Bend almost four weeks earlier than last year, but, as is always the case, Mother Nature will have the biggest say in how work progresses from here.
“We’ve had blizzards in June, and it’s not even mid-May yet,” explained Glacier spokeswoman Denise Germann.
Read the rest of the story here.
Wintertime favorites: Montana traditions in the snow
Old Man Winter has settled in across Montana. The hills and mountains are filling with snow and whether you like to get outside and explore or enjoy the scenery from inside, there’s plenty to love about winter. It seems like everyone has their favorite winter pastime.
We asked our friends on Facebook to share their favorite winter tradition with us. Here’s what a couple had to say:
Julie Fink-Brantley: When growing up in Livingston in the late 50s and 60s, Livingston would cordon off the north side of C Street with hay bales so we kids could sled down on our inner tubes. The snow back then was DEEP and often we’d simply walk the streets in the deep ruts of the tire tracks…Now my adult children with their children sled and come to “Grama’s” for hot chocolate and a warm-up sit and snuggle on my lap.
Lisa Radcliffe Wallace: Going into the woods to our super-secret sledding spot, starting a fire, and then sledding to our hearts content while sipping hot cocoa (with a splash of Rumple Mintz) and cooking hot dogs over the fire!
Beach Kowgirl: Just standing outside as the snow falls listening to the quietness and trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue! Who says you have to grow up?!
Lisa M. Jankowski: Snowshoeing while looking for the PERFECT Christmas tree, with the snow falling gently.
Sherry Wright Neighbors: Searching for the “perfect” Christmas tree in the forest, and then sipping hot chocolate on the tailgate!
Roger Crabtree: Staying warm and drinking cocoa.
See the full Facebook Friend Feedback story in our January/February issue by subscribing today.
Yurts help skiers access private powder
It’s one thing to head up to the ski hill to find some Montana snow – but more and more these days the skiers are heading to the backcountry to what writer and photographer Aaron Theisen calls the Holy Grail of winter sports: A mountain all to themselves.
Theisen’s story, Riding the White Swan, introduces readers to a company that’s using ancient structures to help backcountry skiers stay in remote places like the Swan Mountains, where crowds are never a problem.
Yurtski has two yurts that it rents each winter to skiers looking for private powder.
Every December, Missoula’s Carl Sievers and Adam Simon coordinate a barn-raising of sorts. Except that the buildings perch at nearly 7,000 feet on a steep, snow-clad peak in the Swan Mountain Range.
And the structures will house skiers, not swine.
But what exactly is a yurt?
According to Missoula-based yurt manufacturer Shelter Designs, yurt consists of a round wall and roof system that is free standing using a tension ring at the wall and a compression ring where the roof rafters tie together. These versatile structures have been around for at least 2,500 years. Traditionally, yurts were used in central Asia by nomadic herding groups and tribes. Recently, the yurt (or “ger” as it is traditionally called) has been imported to North America and Europe. Modern design changes, such as using steel fasteners and architectural fabric coverings, have been incorporated. Three types of yurts are predominant in the world today. The fabric yurt is a portable, fabric covered yurt based on the Mongonlian ger. A frame-panel yurt is a permanent structure built of wood with a yurt-style roof. Lastly is the traditionally ger from central Asia.
Learn more at Shelter Designs’ site.
A snowy slideshow: Winter arrives in Montana
It’s hard to beat the winter scenes Montana produces as we move deeper into winter.
And lucky for us, our Facebook friends have been out and about capturing the beauty. Here’s a few examples of the images they’ve captured.
Thanks to everyone who shared photos on our Facebook page. Have photos of Montana you’d like to share? Email them, along with a short description and photographer information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snowy dogs from across Montana
After the recent dump of snow we had in western Montana and the white winter they’ve had in eastern Montana, we couldn’t resist putting out a call to our Facebook friends asking for photos of their snowy dogs.
As you can see, they really delivered. Special thanks to Denise Roth Barber, Carol Kosovich Anderson, Beach Kowgirl, Meagan Thompson, Laura Mayer, Kat Grubbs, Tricia Hanson, Ken Barnedt, Debbie Perryman and Kate Nittinger (and their pups!) for sharing photos.
We hope you enjoy watching our slideshow as much as we enjoyed putting it together!