Those planning to visit Glacier National Park this weekend and for the rest of the summer will have to prepare for very heavy traffic and long wait times to get to popular attractions that may not even be open.

Public Affairs Officer Gina Kerzman said on Thursday that traffic in the park has been deeply affected by one of the main entrances not being open to the public.

“When we got word that the Blackfeet reservation had passed a resolution that would restrict non-essential traffic across the reservation, as well as extending their stay-at-home order for their residents, we knew that the east entrances to Glacier National Park would not be opening this season.”

Kerzman described the traffic delays that occurred in the first week after the east entrances were closed.

“Beginning the first week after the park was open we restricted traffic at Lake McDonald Lodge,” she said. “When that parking lot would fill up we’d have to hold traffic at the foot of Lake McDonald and then eventually at the west entrance and we’d have to turn visitors away. Then, when we were able to in the next week, we opened up the Avalanche. Then, when Avalanche would fill up we’d have to restrict that traffic and hold them temporarily at Lake McDonald Lodge and then when that filled up we’d have to move back again to the foot of Lake McDonald and then at the park entrance.”

Kerzman said many of the popular features at Glacier National Park have not opened due to COVID 19 restrictions.

“The visitor’s centers are not open, although we do have programs located outside the visitor’s center out front with people handing out information,” she said. “However, at Lake McDonald Lodge the lobby is not open to outside visitors unless you have a reservation at the Lodge. There are just fewer places for people to congregate and hang out, or to see the park in different ways, so their destination is now the parking lot to be able to get out and hike.”

The Lake McDonald boat cruise is not operating, nor are the iconic red tour buses due to social distancing complications with COVID 19. Kerzman said there are some food booths but no inside seating to eat.

After careful consideration, discussion, and with input from park staff, local businesses, and parks already implementing similar systems, Glacier National Park officials have decided not to implement the proposed temporary ticketed vehicle entry.

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