Gridlock forces Glacier National Park to expand reservations
Two additional sections of Glacier National Park are being added to the summer reservation systems, removing more destination options for people who haven't planned ahead.
The park had used the reservation system for the often-crowded Going-to-the-Sun Road for the past two years. That was expanded to the North Fork entrance station to reach Bowman and Kintla Lake last year. In 2023, reservations will be required starting on May 26th, through September 10th, for the North Fork and Going-to-the-Sun.
Now, park officials have also decided one reservation per vehicle will also be needed to access Two Medicine and Many Glacier from July 1st through September 10th. Additionally, reservations will be needed at the St Mary entrance station, starting July 1st. Last year, park visitors' reservations will be checked at Rising Sun.
Drivers must also have a park entrance pass
Before the system starts this summer, the park may also restrict traffic at Many Glacier and Two Medicine when those valleys reach capacity.
A major change is the timing of when reservations will be required
At Polebridge, visitors will be allowed to enter without a reservation before 6 am and after 3 pm. Last year the restriction was lifted at 6 pm. The park will still require a reservation for Apgar, but the requirement will be lifted after 3 pm, instead of 4 pm. Reservations will be required on Going-to-the-Sun between 6 am and 3 pm.
But the amended schedule might not add that much time. Construction is expected to continue on the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, starting in June, and that could mean wait times of 30 minutes. In fact, the park is recommending people wanting to visit Logan Pass, and even the Avalanche area would be better off entering St. Mary and driving all the way over from the east side.
First reservation bookings open February 1st
The first block of reservations, for Going-to-the-Sun and North Fork at the start of the season, will open for booking on February 1st, with rolling openings for the additional periods over the following months. Some limited reservations will be held for visitors who didn't plan ahead, starting at 8 am every morning through the summer.
The park says the decision to ease the time restrictions on reservations was made after meetings with local businesses and other stakeholders in Northwest Montana.