WEST GLACIER, Mont. [February 23, 2023] – Today, Glacier National Park announces a new digital permit process for reserving 2023 advance wilderness camping permits using the Recreation.gov online reservation system.
Previously, park staff conducted a lengthy lottery process to issue advance reservation permits using Pay.gov and a unique computer application. Park staff can no longer provide the required maintenance and are migrating away from the application.
Recreation.gov is a government service for 13 federal agencies, including the National Park Service, for travel planning and reservations at 4,200 facilities and activities, and over 113,000 individual reservable sites across the country.
On March 15, 2023, at 8:00 am MDT, wilderness campsites will be released for advance reservations on Recreation.gov. Until then, backpackers can familiarize themselves with Glacier National Park Wilderness Permits webpage on Recreation.gov.
A Recreation.gov account is necessary to make reservations. Visit the Recreation.gov website to create an account or to log in to an already existing account.
Backpackers are encouraged to secure a reservation early because of high demand. The most efficient way to book your wilderness backpacking trip is online via Recreation.gov. Reservations can also be made by contacting the Recreation.gov call center at 877-444-6777.
The new online reservation system will only accommodate groups of 1-4 campers per permit. To make advance reservations for groups larger than four on Recreation.gov, backpackers need to be aware of the following permitting requirements:
• Groups of 5-8 campers will require two separate permits and two separate group leaders.
• Groups of 9-12 campers will require three separate permits and three separate group leaders.
To provide an alternative way of obtaining a permit for groups larger than four, the park will retain the use of the Pay.gov site for a one-day application period for mid-size and large group permits. The application period for permits via Pay.gov will occur on March 1 from 12:01 am MST and close at 11:59 pm MST.
Group applications submitted to Pay.gov will be placed into a lottery and reservations for successful applicants will be booked on Recreation.gov by park staff. Camping reservations will be awarded to 30 groups of 5-8 campers and 5 groups of 9-12 campers. Successful applicants will be notified via email by park staff and will have five days to submit their payment.
The application period for permits via Pay.gov will occur before advance reservations are available on Recreation.gov. Therefore, visitors planning wilderness camping trips for groups larger than four can first apply for permits using the one-day Pay.gov opportunity, followed by the Recreation.gov site if unsuccessful at Pay.gov.
Because of the high demand for campsites, backpackers are encouraged to discuss plans with members of their party before booking a reservation and be prepared with three or four different trip itineraries in the event your preferred itinerary is not available.
Seventy percent of wilderness campsites park-wide will be available for advance reservations, leaving thirty percent available for walk-up permits the day before or the day of a desired trip start date. Permit offices are located in Polebridge, Apgar, Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier. A valid wilderness camping advance reservation from Recreation.gov serves as a vehicle reservation the day before or day of a trip starting date.
Glacier National Park is a popular wilderness backpacking destination with a high demand for campsites. Over the last few years, applications for advance wilderness camping permits have tripled.
The park conducted civic engagement with the public, with a comment period from February 3-17, 2023. In response to public input, the park’s wilderness camping website will describe the refund policy and include a tutorial video, and the elevation gain from trailheads has been added to campsite descriptions on Recreation.gov. To view the planning documents, visit https://parkplanning.nps.gov/WildernessCampingPermits.
For complete details, visit the Wilderness Camping Advance Reservations webpage on the park website.