Should Glacier Park have more shuttles?
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: September 11, 2019

West Glacier, MT – Glacier National Park is proposing a plan to guide management of the Going-to-the-Sun Road (GTSR) Corridor. The plan identifies strategies and actions for improving transportation, visitation, trails and access during peak season. The plan is available for public review and comment on the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website. The park will also hold a public meeting that will be scheduled in mid-September.

The strategies in this plan improve access to public lands, promote a safe and enjoyable visitor experience and protect sensitive resources. The plan’s proposed action includes the following management options (subject to certain thresholds):

  • Expanding the shuttle system with additional buses, extended hours of daily service and six new stops
  • Extending visitor center hours at Apgar and St. Mary Visitor Centers
  • Adding approximately five miles of hiking trails, one-and-a-half miles of bike trails, and pit-toilets at a number of popular day-use areas
  • Enhancing opportunities for bicycle use through the addition of bike trailers to shuttles, installing bike racks, and promoting bicycle-only events
  • Improving circulation at Avalanche Campground by restoring a historic exit and converting camping to parking during peak season
  • Managing traffic and parking using day-use parking permits for a portion of popular locations such as Logan Pass, St. Mary and Virginia Falls Trailhead, and prohibiting overnight parking in the corridor
  • Constructing a new, 100-car parking lot on the west side of the park and expanding parking on the east side

“The public, local businesses, and elected officials have played an important role in this project from the beginning,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “Maintaining a quality experience while sustaining the park for generations to come will continue to be a community conversation as we develop tools and implement strategies to address substantial increases in visitation to our park and surrounding local areas.”

Between 2015 and 2017, visitation to the park grew by forty percent to 3.3 million visitors. Visitation growth in areas like Logan Pass and Avalanche has led to vehicle closures and restrictions to prevent traffic gridlock and ensure emergency vehicle access. During peak periods throughout the summer, visitors may wait up to two hours to board shuttles, and are frequently unable to find parking along the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor. Visitors are also faced with long lines for basic facilities such as restrooms and access to information desks. Complaint letters from visitors have increased describing crowding, lack of parking, and congestion conditions on the GTSR. There have also been more vehicle accidents in 2019 than prior years on the GTSR, and keeping up with disposing human waste has become a challenge.

The plan is available online at  http://parkplanning.nps.gov/GTSRPlan. Comments can be posted on this website, or sent by mail to Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: GTSR Corridor Management Plan, PO Box 128, West Glacier, Montana 59936. The plan may also be requested by calling 406-888-7995. The plan will be available for public review for 30 days; comments are due October 6, 2019.