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RMNP Bear Lake Road access restrictions, summers 2003/4


by Kelly Bates

June 25, 2003

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

A planned two-year construction project to widen the Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), make safety enhancements, and provide additional user parking has begun for this season and potentially significantly affects the accessibility of the area to climbers. Additional planning needs to be undertaken before you attempt any of the routes in the affected area.

From June 23 (revised date) to October 31, 2003, and May 1 to October 31, 2004, the road from Sprague Lake to Bear Lake will be accessible by free shuttle bus ONLY. The schedule for the bus routes is as follows:

The Bear Lake Route Bus makes the roundtrip between the Park & Ride and Bear Lake. The bus will run from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every 30 minutes daily.

The Moraine Park Route Bus makes the roundtrip between the Park & Ride and the Fern Lake bus stop. The bus will run from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every 20 minutes daily, then hourly until 10:00 p.m. The Moraine Park Route runs on schedule through September 7, and then weekends only for the remainder of September. (Most routes are accessed from the Glacier Gorge and Bear Lake trailheads, so this is informational only.)

The October schedule for both bus routes will be announced at a later date.

Visitors may drive to Glacier Creek Stables and Sprague Lake. However, there is no shuttle bus stop at Sprague Lake. From November 1, 2003, through April 30, 2004, private vehicles will be allowed to drive to Bear Lake.

This project will widen the road two feet and improve the road surface to accommodate park shuttle buses; improve safety and engineering conditions; build bus shelters, improve restrooms and create formal parking spaces.

There are options for alpine-start climbers who feel that 5:00 a.m. is not early enough. There is a trail that leads from Sprague Lake to Glacier Gorge Junction. It is approximately 3 miles. Climbers could park at the Sprague Lake Parking Area and hike in. The other option would be to get a backcountry permit or bivy permit and camp the night before the climb. The backcountry office can provide more information (970-586-1242) about how to obtain these permits.

This action is underway and will affect user access to a large number of the classic climbs in the Park, including those accessed from Glacier Gorge (Spearhead, Arrowhead), Lock Vale (Sharkstooth, the Petit Grepon, Otis Peak Towers), and Dream Lake (North Face of Hallet Peak). Please remember to plan your trips accordingly, and bring overnight or bivy gear if appropriate!

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