Ptarmigan Tunnel – West Glacier, Montana - Atlas Obscura
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West Glacier, Montana

Ptarmigan Tunnel

This angular Dwarven tunnel cuts through a mountainside in Glacier National Park. 

Forged in 1930, the Ptarmigan Tunnel in picturesque Glacier National Park was created to allow horses and tourists a better view of the surrounding natural wonder. Today, the thoroughfare remains a veritable entrance to some underground kingdom. 

The nearly 200-foot long tunnel was created by a pair of steel jackhammers that pounded away at either side of the tunnel until they nearly kissed in the middle. To avoid a potential romantic (if catastrophic) collision, the process was helped along by dynamite blasting that forced its way through the rock.

Once completed the tunnel carved through a natural barrier known as the Ptarmigan Wall. The interior of the passage is unadorned with the craggy rocks walls exposed all around it.

In 1975, sharply-angled steel doors were installed at both ends of the path, giving the tourist tunnel a surprisingly fortress-like feel. Despite the added defenses, the tunnel is still a popular feature among the Glacier hiking trails and its doors are open most of the year. 

Know Before You Go

The tunnel is located past the Glacier Lake and the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. Take the trailhead to Iceberg Lake (a famous hike at Glacier) and Ptarmigan Lake, it's about 4.5 miles to the tunnel.

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