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Top Attractions in Glacier National Park

Big Drift

The Big Drift is in Glacier National Park, in the U.S. state of Montana and is an area along the Going-to-the-Sun Road where a large amount of winter snow can accumulate to depths of 80 feet . Located immediately east of Logan Pass, the westerly winds push snow over the crest of the Continental Divide onto the eastern flank of a long arête which extends south from Pollock Mountain. West of the divide, this arête is known as the Garden Wall. As spring approaches, the region is surveyed by helicopter in preparation for snow removal that will be needed in order to reopen the Going-to-the-Sun Road for the summer season. By early April, snow removal crews working from either end of the 53 miles roadway have begun to ascend the steeper east and west slopes of the Lewis Range. The area of the Big Drift is usually reached by late May, and it often can take a month to clear this one stretch of road that is slightly more than 1 mile in length. Survey crews identify avalanche hazards and help to locate the road using global positioning equipment. Large cornices are usually removed using explosives, then excavators and front-end loaders move the snow over the cliffsides or into dump trucks. The entire Going-to-the-Sun Road takes about ten weeks to plow, even with equipment that can move 4000 short tons of snow an hour. By the first of June of each year, the Logan Pass visitor center can usually be reached by vehicle from at least one side of the Continental divide. In 2011, due to abnormally heavy late winter and early spring snowfall, the Going-to-the-Sun Road did not open until July 13th, the second latest opening ever.

Mount Cleveland

For other mountains by this name, see Mount Cleveland . Mount Cleveland is the highest mountain in Glacier National Park, located in Montana, United States. It is also the highest point in the Lewis Range, which spans part of the northern portion of the Park and extends into Canada. It is located approximately 3 mi southeast of the southern end of Waterton Lake, and approximately 5 mi south of the US/Canada border. While not of great absolute elevation lower than Granite Peak, the highest peak in Montana), Mount Cleveland is notable for its large, steep rise above local terrain. For example, its west flank rises over 5,500 ft in less than 2 mi ; the northwest face, steepest on the mountain, rises 4,000 ft in less than 0.4 mi . The other faces show almost as much vertical relief. This scale and steepness of relief is quite rare in the contiguous United States. Mount Cleveland is 50th on a list of peaks in the contiguous U.S. with the most topographic prominence. The first recorded ascent of Mount Cleveland was in 1920 by Frank B. Wynn. The easiest route on the peak is the West Face route, starting from the Waterton Valley; it is a scramble with the possibility of some short exposed sections . Other routes include the Stoney Indian Route, from Stoney Indian Pass to the south of the peak, first descended by noted Sierra mountaineer Norman Clyde and party in 1937; various routes on the Southeast Face; and the more difficult North Face, climbed partially in 1971 and completely in 1976.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only road that crosses Glacier National Park in Montana, USA, going over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. It was completed in 1932. A fleet of 1930s red tour buses called "jammers" which were rebuilt in 2001 to run on propane or gasoline, offer tours on the road. The road, a National Historic Landmark and a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, spans 53 miles across the width of the park. The road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the spring. Up to 80 feet of snow can lie on top of Logan Pass, and more just east of the pass where the deepest snowfield has long been referred to as Big Drift. The road takes about ten weeks to plow, even with equipment that can move 4000 tons of snow in an hour. The snowplow crew can clear as little as 500 feet of the road per day. On the east side of the continental divide, there are few guardrails due to heavy snows and the resultant late winter avalanches that have repeatedly destroyed every protective barrier ever constructed. The road is generally open from early June to mid October, with its latest-ever opening on July 13, 2011. The two lane Going-to-the-Sun Road is quite narrow and winding, especially west of Logan Pass. Consequently, vehicle lengths over the highest portions of the roadway are limited to 22 feet and that means no recreational vehicles or trailers in excess of this length restriction are permitted beyond two larger parking areas, each located at lower points dozens of miles below Logan Pass, on both the west and east sides of the parkway. Prior to the construction of the road, it would take the earliest visitors 3–4 days to see the park.

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