WEST GLACIER, MT. – This year, 620,962 people came to the park in June, up 28% over visits from last year.
Last June was also a record breaking month over previous years. Over the last ten years, visitation during June has nearly doubled, from 341,317 in June in 2007 to the 620,962 number recorded at the end of last month.
The park has experienced extremely crowded conditions in all areas of the park this summer season.
“We had thought the park seemed much busier than last year, even before we saw the official numbers,” said Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “In the past, much of our visitation has been attributed to the opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. However, this year the Going-to-the-Sun Road opened twelve days later than in 2016 and we still saw a dramatic increase.”
Park rangers initiated a one hour emergency temporary closure of the Many Glacier Valley for the first time over the Fourth of July weekend due to gridlock conditions in hotel and trailhead parking areas and access roads.
Bowman and Kintla Lake parking areas are routinely filling by 10 am or 11 am. Logan Pass parking is routinely filling between 9 am and 10 am. Avalanche Creek, Apgar Village, and the Apgar Visitor Center parking lots are also regularly filling in the morning or early afternoon.
In the North Fork area and other areas of the park as needed, rangers are temporarily restricting traffic to ensure that roads and parking areas remain accessible to emergency vehicles and do not become gridlocked.
Park shuttle ridership has also increased. As of July 10, ten days into the shuttle’s operational season, ridership had increased by 6,829 over 2016 levels, for a total of 30,644 riders.
Visitors should plan for crowded conditions and waiting periods for parking, particularly during peak times of day. Early morning and later evening continue to offer less crowded opportunities to visit the park during the summer months.
People can learn more about when campgrounds have filled in the past day by visiting the park website. The park is also posting when parking lots fill and other information about real-time park conditions at twitter.com/glacierNPS.
To find out more about visitor use statistics for the National Park Service, please visit: https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/