Logan Pass on the Continental Divide

August 29, 2017

LoganPass (1)
Photographer: Rod Benson
Summary Author: Rod Benson

Logan Pass on the Continental Divide (elevation 6,646 ft or 2,026 m) is the highest point on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Although there are higher areas in the south-central part of the state, Logan Pass gets more precipitation than any place in Montana. Mountains along the divide force moist air from the Pacific upward, causing cooling by expansion. Also, Arctic air often moves into Montana along the east side of the divide, contributing to the lifting and cooling of Pacific air from the west. An area just east of Logan Pass, called The Big Drift, often records over 80 ft (24 m) of snow, much of it pushed there by strong westerly winds that blow during the winter. A record gust of 139 mph (224 km/hr) was recorded in April of 2014.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road, which can be seen in the photo, is one of the most scenic drives in the U.S. and also one of the most difficult to snowplow. Crews usually begin plowing in early April, and the road is usually open from early June to mid-October. The latest opening date was July 13, 2011, due to the tremendous amount of snow that fell that winter. The road, which was completed in 1932 and opened in 1933, connects the east entrance of the park (St. Mary) with the west entrance (near Lake McDonald).
Although there aren’t many glaciers left in the park, the road provides visitors with excellent views of features carved by glaciers, including, hanging valleys, horns, glacial troughs, arêtes, and cirques. For those who want a closer look, there are several hiking trailheads along the highway, including the spectacular Highline Trail that starts at Logan Pass and passes above the highway and below a portion of the Continental Divide known as The Garden Wall. Photo taken on July 14, 2017.
Photo Details: Camera Maker: Panasonic; Camera Model: DMC-LX7; Focal Length: 4.7mm (35mm equivalent: 24mm); Aperture: ƒ/2.8; Exposure Time: 0.0008 s (1/1300); ISO equiv: 80; Software: QuickTime 7.6.6.