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Safe dates to start Jasper - Going-to-the-sun - Missoula?

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Safe dates to start Jasper - Going-to-the-sun - Missoula?

Old 11-05-13, 08:13 AM
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northerntier
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Safe dates to start Jasper - Going-to-the-sun - Missoula?

I know that the GTTS road usually open last week of June. Is it safe to bike at this point? Plowing could leave some ice/snow on the road.

What about the Jasper end? I'm assuming that Jasper and roads heading south are plowed better, as I haven't seen much concern.

Proposed route is the usual one, please see attached.
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Old 11-05-13, 09:02 AM
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From doing this on a motorcycle you should be ok but there may be snow on the side of the road. Get other opinions but maybe a couple of weeks later is more of a sure thing.
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Old 11-05-13, 09:37 AM
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Where you from, son? Or should I say daughter, but the rhyme isn't there?

Going to the Sun's opening dates can vary widely - from late May to early July.
In general, the last week of June is O.K. Sometimes the road is opened to cyclists before autos.
(Of course, then the visitor's center at Logan Pass will still be closed.)

I doubt there will be any snow on the road surface unless there is a late snowstorm.
Once the road is plowed, the warm temperatures and the high sun quickly melt any remaining snow.
However, snow from the snowbanks and the water cascading off the rock wall will make the road wet.

Late June and early July are the BEST time of year for wildflowers.
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Old 11-05-13, 09:40 AM
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I have ridden the entirety of GTS west to east once and up and back down the west side two other times. The W-E crossing and the second up and back down were both on the first day the road opened to Logan Pass.

You shouldn't have any problem assuming there is no late storm when you are prepared to cross. They do a great job of clearing the road completely. The only thing we encountered was nowhere to pull off at Logan Pass the first time. There was so much snow that the parking lot was not cleared and the visitor center was still burried nearly up to the roof. Somewhere I have a photo of me leaning against a 6'+ high snow bank at the summit. The real issue will likely be water on parts of the west side. Melting snow runs down the hills and can make the west bound lanes wet in places. Have you ever seen photos of the "Weeping Wall?" It's a section where the water poors down a rock face. I will try to post one later tonight.

If you plan to cross in June, the issue will be one of timing. Back in '09 the GF and I came from Waterton Village over Chief Mountain to St. Mary and intended to cross around June 24 or so. The entirety of the road was not open. While it had been plowed, a major avalanche over the winter required significant repairs. A year or two later, there was so much snow that the pass did open until some time in July. It may have been as late as mid-July.

You should also be aware that there is a multi-year road re-hab project going on. In order to have some uninterrupted construction time, the park has been setting an earliest opening date for crossing Logan Pass. Even if the road is cleared and ready to be driven in its entirety, it will not open in its entirety until the earliest date. You should check the official park web site later next year for details in case they plan to do that again. You can also follow plowing progress once it starts. If you have never seen the photos and videos they post, they are pretty cool. You really get a sense of enormity of the effort required and the dangers involved. And sometimes they even encounter critters during their work. Here are the photos from 2012:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/glacier...7629725011599/

If you get stuck in St. Mary you can wait it out or go around the park via U.S. 89, Looking Glass Hill (MT 49) and Marias Pass (U.S. 2). That's what we did in '09. Made it all the way to Sprague Creek Campground inside the park. 100 miles. But it was the only way we would have had time to ride the west side and still make our flight out of Whitefish a few days later.
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Old 11-05-13, 10:57 AM
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Unfortunately, I have only ridden Going to the Sun a dozen or so times.
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Old 11-05-13, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Unfortunately, I have only ridden Going to the Sun a dozen or so times.
I saw our posts crossed in the mail. When I hit the Powerball I am moving somewhere in Montana.
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Old 11-05-13, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Where you from, son? Or should I say daughter, but the rhyme isn't there?

I doubt there will be any snow on the road surface unless there is a late snowstorm.
Once the road is plowed, the warm temperatures and the high sun quickly melt any remaining snow.

Late June and early July are the BEST time of year for wildflowers.
This is exactly what I'm wanting to hear. I live near DC. Last year, my buds and I rode up from Florida. It had it's joys (especially NC outer banks), but we're ready to get back to the mountains.
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Old 11-05-13, 01:55 PM
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Just got back from a morning ski in the Bighorns.
Powder snow sparkling like diamonds, snow-capped peaks,
All under a sky so sapphire it is unbelievable.

I may be low in the peso department living out here - -
But the fringe benefits more than make up for it.
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Old 11-05-13, 02:02 PM
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Used to live in NC long ago - loved Ocracoke - but couldn't get me back, now.

Here's a link from a Crazyguy journal I did a few years back from Glacier to Jasper.
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=26439&v=Nx
Do not overlook Kananaskis County - hard hit by floods this year - but super.

There are a number of fire roads in the Canadian parks you can ride on to backcountry campsites.
Big Bend campsite on the Athabasca River
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Old 11-05-13, 02:36 PM
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What about roads on the Jasper side, including those just over the border into Canada? Machka?
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Old 11-05-13, 03:53 PM
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Does NPS have the 2014 GTS construction project information published anywhere yet?
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Old 11-05-13, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by john.b View Post
Does NPS have the 2014 GTS construction project information published anywhere yet?
The best page I found is this one:

http://www.wfl.fhwa.dot.gov/projects/mt/gtsr/
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Old 11-06-13, 02:16 AM
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Originally Posted by northerntier View Post
What about roads on the Jasper side, including those just over the border into Canada? Machka?
The weekend before the May long weekend is when the campgrounds open. That weekend should be OK to start cycling ... however, don't rule out snow. I've cycled in the Rockies on the May long weekend, and it has snowed.

Oh yes ... I should mention that the May long weekend will be busy. It's the first long weekend of the summer season and people love to camp. If you're planning to be anywhere along the Icefield Parkway on that weekend, you'll want to consider booking now.

The May Long Weekend:
http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/victoria-day

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Old 11-06-13, 07:11 AM
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OP: The color one is the weeping wall. You will be descending on that side of the road. The two B&Ws are from the official full opening day, 1999. Even with all that snow, the road was still clear.
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Old 11-06-13, 07:24 AM
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When I was there in July 2012, some of the free shuttle buses had bike racks on the front of the bus. If they still do that and if the weather was bad or road was icy (unlikely), the shuttle could be an option. But, I am sure you want bragging rights to say you peddled up the mountain.

If I am reading your map correctly, you are going east to west. That is the best way to cycle for two reasons:
- only one cycling time zone restriction, that restriction is on the west end of the park and you can hang out at a general store where they sell beer waiting for the time restriction to end.
- less climbing from east to west, see elevation profile from the GPS data from my ride.



A side note, the day before I went over Going to the Sun Road was biking from Waterton Park to St Mary. The climbs on that day were the toughest during my whole trip. The elevation profile for that day looked like this.

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Old 11-06-13, 08:23 AM
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My reasoning for preferring the east-to-west direction on Going to the Sun Road are aesthetic.
If you start in the early morning (which you should) you will have the morning sun behind you.
Thus as you climb, the mountains and sheer walls will be brilliantly illuminated.
Similarly, you will have sunlight on the Garden Wall on the way down.
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Old 11-06-13, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If I am reading your map correctly, you are going east to west. That is the best way to cycle for two reasons:
- only one cycling time zone restriction, that restriction is on the west end of the park and you can hang out at a general store where they sell beer waiting for the time restriction to end.
- less climbing from east to west, see elevation profile from the GPS data from my ride.



A side note, the day before I went over Going to the Sun Road was biking from Waterton Park to St Mary. The climbs on that day were the toughest during my whole trip. The elevation profile for that day looked like this.

OP: If you camp at Rising Sun instead of St. Mary campground, the climb to Logan Pass is only about 2,000' IIRC. There are also showers at Rising Sun. Lake McDonald Lodge is a great place to hang out with some beers if you get timed out on the west side. Or you can just stay a Avalanche or Sprague Creek Campgrounds and not have to worry about that.

Definitely do not underestimate the stretch from Watrton Village to St. Mary. That first big climb is physically difficult It's also psychologically difficult as a lot of it is straight and open so it stares you in the face. Even after the big climbs on Chief Mountain you will likely have a strong headwind heading south on U.S. 89.

BTW....If you find yourself hungry on U.S. 89 and like burgers, the Firehorse Cafe makes a good one. It will be on your left.
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Old 11-06-13, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
OP: The color one is the weeping wall. You will be descending on that side of the road. The two B&Ws are from the official full opening day, 1999. Even with all that snow, the road was still clear.
Thanks, great photos.

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If I am reading your map correctly, you are going east to west. That is the best way to cycle for two reasons:
- only one cycling time zone restriction, that restriction is on the west end of the park and you can hang out at a general store where they sell beer waiting for the time restriction to end.
- less climbing from east to west, see elevation profile from the GPS data from my ride.
Yes, I got a similar elevation from bikeroutetoaster, one of the other reasons for starting from the north. The other is that road closures are less of an issue in canada than on GTTS. Strange.



Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
A side note, the day before I went over Going to the Sun Road was biking from Waterton Park to St Mary. The climbs on that day were the toughest during my whole trip. The elevation profile for that day looked like this.
Ouch, but good to know. None of us are great (thin and young) climbers, we just prefer touring in the mountains than anywhere else.
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