Motorized and trailered watercraft will continue to be restricted on all park waters due to aquatic invasive species threat

A boat propeller engulfed by quagga mussels. Help keep our waters free of aquatic invasive species. (NPS Photo)
A boat propeller engulfed by quagga mussels. Help keep our waters free of aquatic invasive species. (NPS Photo)

WEST GLACIER, MT – This summer, non-motorized, non-trailered watercraft will be permitted on Glacier National Park waters. Hand-propelled watercraft will be permitted on Lake McDonald and North Fork waters beginning May 15, and will be permitted on Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier waters beginning June 1. This year, non-motorized watercraft will require an in-person inspection by National Park Service boat inspectors.

Privately owned motorized and trailered watercraft will continue to be restricted, following the detection of aquatic invasive mussels within the State of Montana announced in November of 2016. For more information about the detection and the park’s response, please see the park’s aquatic invasive species website.

Motorized watercraft rented and operated under National Park Service contract will continue to be available, including Glacier Park Boat Company’s motorized rental boats and boat tours. Motorboat rentals will be available this summer on Lake McDonald and Two Medicine Lake.  Hand-propelled boats will also be available for rent at numerous lakes across the park.

Inspection Standards

  • Motorized or trailered watercraft will be prohibited from launching.
  • All non-motorized watercraft will be inspected, including but not limited to canoes, kayaks, row boats, sail boats, paddleboards, float tubes, inner tubes, and wind surfboards.
  • Small, low grade inflatable children’s water toys including water wings, rings, and the like will not require a permit.
  • All watercraft must be clean, drained, and dry upon arrival to receive a launch permit.
  • Watercraft must be accessible for inspection: uninflated rafts or float tubes, watercraft with internal water holding tanks, wash systems, etc. will be denied a launch permit.
  • New, unused inflatable watercraft will not require an inspection; however they will require a permit before launching.
  • An inspection will be required upon each entry to the park if intending to launch. Visitors staying overnight in the park will not need a daily inspection.

The park is preparing for a possible ten-fold increase in the number of non-motorized watercraft inspections requested, compared with the number of motorized inspections conducted historically, and asks that visitors plan ahead and build time into their schedules to receive the inspection.

The park received additional funding this year from the Glacier National Park Conservancy to expand inspection capacity to meet this anticipated demand.

Visitors can speed up the inspection process by ensuring that their watercraft is clean, drained, dry, and ready for inspection upon arrival. The park will continue to assess the inspection program and aquatic invasive species threat throughout the summer and may make adjustments in hours and scope of the permitting process, and areas where boats are permitted, depending on funding and as new information emerges.

Procedures and locations for obtaining a non-motorized watercraft launch permit are outlined below:

Lake McDonald and North Fork Area*

May 15 – May 31 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Apgar Backcountry Permit Center in parking lot across the street

Beginning June 1 - 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (station closure time may be adjusted as summer daylight wanes) Adjacent to the Apgar Boat Ramp

*Boaters traveling to the North Fork region should visit the Lake McDonald inspection station for a launch permit. After successful inspection, they should proceed directly to their North Fork launch destination. North Fork residents should contact the Polebridge Ranger Station for alternate inspection procedures.

Two Medicine beginning June 1: 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Two Medicine Ranger Station

St. Mary beginning June 1: 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - St. Mary Visitor Center

Many Glacier beginning June 1: 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Many Glacier Ranger Station

For rules and regulations about boating, please visit the park’s web page.



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