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Sat, July 04

Glacier National Park partially reopens amid pandemic

Glacier National Park is located in northwestern Montana, just south of the Canadian/U.S. international border. (Photo/NPS)

Glacier National Park is located in northwestern Montana, just south of the Canadian/U.S. international border. (Photo/NPS)

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — The western side of Glacier National Park has reopened to visitors after being closed since late March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Park officials lifted the barriers into the park June 8 and reopened Going-to-the-Sun Road to Lake McDonald Lodge, the Hungry Horse News reported.

The park is expected to close early each day at 4:30 p.m. until more employees return from quarantine status, park spokeswoman Gina Kerzman said. The park will not sweep trails and force people to leave, but it will stop letting more people in when the gates close, she said.

Entrance fees were originally waived, but are required for future visits and can be purchased online, Kerzman said.

Trails accessible from U.S. Highway 2 will also be open and will close at 4:30 p.m., including Walton and the Autumn Creek Trail at Marias Pass.

The Polebridge entrance to the park will remain close and the Camas Road will not be open next week to begin pavement sealing and other work as part of an effort to seal all the paved roads in the park, officials said.

Backcountry camping will also not initially be available, but could begin around June 20, the park’s website said. Campground reservations across the park are also closed, many because of staffing concerns.

The east side of the park will remain closed until the Blackfeet Tribe lifts its travel ban, which is set to expire June 30. The park has deferred to the tribe and its health concerns by closing east side roads, trails and campgrounds.

Visitors should expect plenty of mud and some flooded low-level trails due to recent heavy rains, officials said. A thunderstorm on May 31 caused a three-day power outage and knocked down numerous trees that officials are still working to clean up.

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