2016 NPS Centennial Peak Season is Underway
Glacier National Park experienced another month of record visitation during the month of June. According to visitor use statistics, the park’s visitation for the month of June 2016 was 429,909 recreational visitors, an increase of 3.67 percent over June 2015 and a 28 percent increase over June 2014. Visitation for the calendar year through May 2016 increased 8.66 percent compared to the same time frame in 2015.
“2016 is the Centennial of the National Park Service and we are anticipating record visitation. June was up almost four percent over last year,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “You have to remember that in June 2015 it was really dry and we had a 24 percent increase over 2014. That’s a 28 percent increase in two years.”
In 2015, Glacier National Park set a new visitation record with 2.36 million visitors, despite an active fire year that included closures of portions of the Going-to-the-Sun Road for nearly two weeks during the peak season.
The majority of June 2016 visitors, 34 percent (149,599 visitors), entered the park through the west entrance at West Glacier. The second most used entrance was Saint Mary with 25 percent (108,813 visitors) of the park’s monthly visitation for June 2016. The other park entrances at Belly River (Chief Mountain), Camas, Cut Bank, Many Glacier, Polebridge, Two Medicine, and Walton/Goat Lick welcomed the remainder of the visitors in June 2016. The full Monthly Public Use Report for all units of the national park service can be found HERE .
Annual visitation to Glacier National Park peaks in July and August. Visitors planning to visit during peak season are advised to plan ahead for lodging and activity reservations, to use the free park shuttles that began operating July 1, and to avoid peak hours of 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the Going-to-the-Sun Road (GTSR) and on popular trails by traveling early or late in the day to avoid parking lot and road congestion.
Overnight and day use hikers planning to hike from trailheads along the GTSR are encouraged to use the express hiker shuttle that departs from Apgar and St. Mary Visitor Centers beginning at 7 a.m. to prevent occupying a parking space at popular places such as Logan Pass for the entire day. The free express hiker shuttle service began operating on July 1, 2016.
Visitors driving over the GTSR mid-day should expect congestion, especially at Avalanche, Logan Pass and other popular trailheads and viewpoints.
All front country campgrounds are now open in the park and most have been filling by mid-day. Park campgrounds include Apgar, Avalanche, Bowman Lake, Cut Bank, Fish Creek, Kintla Lake, Logging Creek, Many Glacier, Quartz Creek, Rising Sun, Sprague Creek, St. Mary, and Two Medicine. For the previous day’s filling times see the campground status page HERE. Campers may want to consider staying at nearby campgrounds in the Flathead and Lewis & Clark National Forests, at State Parks, or at private campgrounds in the surrounding communities or on the Blackfeet Reservation, especially if they are arriving in the afternoon. Many of these campgrounds can be found on the Glacier Country Montana website page titled “Explore Beyond Glacier National Park” HERE. For the latest campground availability, trail conditions and other park trip planning information please consult the park’s website HERE.