Glacier National Park announced in March the several construction projects planned throughout The Park for Summer 2023. As your unofficially official “Know Before You Go,” information hub on all things Glacier National Park, we wanted to make sure you had all the details before you arrive in beautiful Montana. We’re all about helping you plan ahead and prepare to ensure your vacation is pickle free and fabulous.
- Lake McDonald Utilities Project
Construction on the Lake McDonald Utilities Project is expected to continue along Going-to-the-Sun Road from the south end of Lake McDonald near Apgar Campground to Sprague Creek Campground until May 15, 2023; however, the park anticipates visitors will have vehicle and recreational access on Going-to-the-Sun Road up to Lake McDonald Lodge by May 5 at 6 a.m. Visitors should drive and bike with caution in this area due to uneven surfaces and potholes.
- Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation Project
The west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road, from the foot of Lake McDonald to North Lake McDonald Road, will undergo three phases of rehabilitation work. 9.3 miles of Going-to-the-Sun Road is expected to be milled and repaved starting May through fall 2023, weather permitting. All pull-outs in the construction zone along Lake McDonald are anticipated to be closed through late fall 2023. Visitors should drive and bike with caution in this area due to uneven surfaces and potholes.
*Things to note on the first two projects*
- Entry to Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance before the 6 a.m. reservation period will not be possible due to construction activities.
- The construction zone is anticipated to be closed nightly until late fall with opportunities to go through at scheduled times.
- To avoid congestion-related delays, visitors are encouraged to use the St. Mary Entrance to access Going-to-the-Sun Road, including popular attractions such as Logan Pass and Avalanche, when the road fully opens for the season.
Be sure to check The Park’s website for latest construction updates.
- Bridge Preservation Project
Glacier National Park is continuing a construction project to rehabilitate 13 bridges throughout the park. The work will take place over the next year. This is the continuation of a two-year project that began last summer.
Due to bridge construction and road conditions, all roads in the North Fork area of the park are expected to be closed to vehicle traffic until May 25, 2023. Early season work is proposed to complete bridge approach excavations in the Spring. All spring work is dependent on weather conditions and site accessibility.
The Bowman, Kintla, Akokala and Ford bridges, located in the North Fork, are anticipated to have short delays May 26 to early September 2023. Kintla, Akokala and Ford bridges will likely be closed to all traffic starting September 5 through mid-November. The Bowman Bridge is expected to be closed to all traffic September 11 through mid-November. The park anticipates visitors will not have access to Bowman and Kintla areas during the construction closures, including campgrounds and trailheads. In addition to the Bridge Preservation Project, the GNP Road Crew will also be grading the last five miles of the road to Kintla Lake July through fall 2023. Visitors need to use caution as there will be heavy truck traffic and minor delays. Roads in the North Fork area typically close at the end of November due to winter conditions.
If early season work is completed in spring, Bowman Creek Bridge will only require a short duration closure in the fall.
The Fish Creek Bridge will be paved in late May before Fish Creek Campground opens for the season. The bridge is anticipated to have limited delays in traffic until its expected closure to motorized, pedestrian, and bicycle access May 1 through May 25, 2023.
The North Fork Bridge, located on the north end of Camas Road, will be resurfaced and the roadway leading up to the bridge will be milled, paved, and graded. Work on the North Fork Bridge is expected to start in April and go through late fall 2023. Visitors should expect short delays when crossing the bridge.
The Lee Creek Bridge, located along Chief Mountain Highway, will have short delays starting September through late fall 2023.
Since the last construction season, work has been substantially completed on the Anaconda, Camas, Dutch Creek, Quartz and Logging Creek bridges located on the Inside North Fork Road.
Improvements to the bridges include bridge deck and approach repairs, timber pile replacement and repairs, timber curb replacement, painting, concrete repair, erosion control measures, and more. The work is being completed to preserve the existing bridges and ensure continued usage by preventing failure which would require full bridge replacement.
- Upper McDonald Creek Bridge
In early April, bridge replacement will begin on upper McDonald Creek. The bridge provides access to the northwest shore of Lake McDonald including private homes, the Lake McDonald Ranger Station, and trailheads. The new bridge will be built approximately 30 feet upstream of the existing bridge, requiring a realignment of the road approaches.
There will be a full closure during construction to North Lake McDonald Road at the intersection with the Going-to-the-Sun Road. There will be no public access, including vehicles, hiking, or biking and no parking at this intersection. Visitors intending on hiking the Johns Lake Loop Trail will need to turn around where trail closed signs are posted. Hikers will not be able to complete the loop.
Bridge construction is expected to go through the entire 2023 construction season and conclude in late 2024.
Outside the Park
Starting July 10, 2023, a portion of Glacier Drive, which is just north of the Polebridge businesses to the bridge entering the park, will be under construction.
Construction within the business area of Polebridge will begin on August 14, 2023. Parking will be restricted to outside the work area until construction is completed.
Visitors to the Polebridge area should expect 30-minute delays before arriving at and departing the park entrance. Updates for the construction project can be found on Montana Department of Transportation’s website. Visitors should know, this 30-minute construction zone will be in addition to construction zones inside the park.
- U.S. Highway 2
Paving and chip reseal work will resume in the Marias Pass area of U.S. Highway 2 in spring 2023. Expect some traffic control, with single lane restrictions and short delays through summer 2023. More information about the construction project can be found on Montana Department of Transportation’s website.
- U.S. Highway 89
The section of U.S. Highway 89 immediately east and south of St. Mary, MT will be under construction this summer. This is the continuation of a multi-year project that has been ongoing for the last few summers. Expect some traffic control, with single lane restrictions and short delays between Hudson Bay Divide and Kiowa. More information about the construction project can be found on Montana Department of Transportation’s website.
- U.S. Highway 206 (Bigfork to Columbia Falls)
In 2022, crews worked on highway 206, the road off hwy 35, connecting Bigfork, MT and Columbia Falls, MT. Work consisted of widening the highway by adding 4-foot shoulders on both side, reconstructing the sidewalks at the intersection of S 206 and US Highway 2, flattening the steep slopes on the side of the road and adding mailbox turnouts
In 2023, crews will return to pave the shoulders of S 206, apply a seal and cover (chip seal), install guardrail, install centerline and shoulder rumble strips, resurface the roadway, and apply final pavement markings. For more information on status and updates of this project, visit Montana Department of Transportation.