2016 NPS Centennial Season Begins At a Brisk Pace
Glacier National Park experienced record visitation during the month of May. According to visitor use statistics, the park’s visitation for the month of May 2016 was 178,218 recreational visitors, an increase of more than 32 percent over May 2015. Visitation for the calendar year through May 2016 increased more than 18 percent compared to the same time frame in 2015.
“2016 is the Centennial of the National Park Service and we are anticipating record visitation,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “There are so many recreational opportunities available in this region. Glacier National Park is just the tip of the iceburg. We want visitors to enjoy the park and to discover the 18 million acres of the Crown of the Continent that surrounds it.”
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 May 2016 visitors, 46 percent (82,870 visitors), entered the park through the west entrance at West Glacier. The second most used entrance was Saint Mary with 15 percent (27,952 visitors) of the park’s monthly visitation for May 2016. The other open 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 May 2016. The full Monthly Public Use Report for all units of the national park service can be found at https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/.
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 begin 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 also begins on July 1, 2016.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is currently open to vehicles as far as Avalanche on the west side and Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side. The remainder of the road may be accessed on foot or bicycle. At this time, the area of the Big Drift is very icy and through travel is not recommended. Bicyclists are reminded to wear helmets for safety. Helmets are required for people under the age of 18. A free hiker-biker shuttle is available to transport people and their bicycles between Lake McDonald Lodge and the Avalanche parking area from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until the GTSR opens to vehicles for the summer.
For the latest road conditions and other park trip planning information please consult the park’s website at www.nps.gov/glac.