Glacier Park will require reservations for Two Medicine, Many Glacier valleys next summer
Tourists take photos along the Going-the-Sun Road in this file photo.
Editor | November 17, 2022 12:05 PM
Glacier National Park will require reservations for Many Glacier and the Two Medicine valleys in the summer of 2023. That’s in addition to the reservation requirements for the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the North Fork entrances.
The park didn’t have exact details on the east side entrance reservations, but superintendent David Roemer said they hope to have them by mid-December, so businesses and visitors can make plans.
Last year reservations were required to access the North Fork and the Sun Road from Memorial Day through the weekend after Labor Day. Half were available 120 days in advance and the rest 24 hours in advance. The day in advance reservations could be extremely difficult to get, however, as they typically sold out in minutes.
The announcement for the east side entrances came with concern from some east side business owners. One business owner said they really don’t have the room capacity like the west side to overload the entrances.
But with an east-side reservation system, there was the distinct possibility that a person could book a room on the east side and not get in, while a person on the west side could.
The problem is Internet access on the east side can be spotty, while west side is more reliable.
All reservations are taken through the federal government’s website at Recreation.gov. But if a person has a slow Internet connection, it can be almost impossible to get a reservation.
Even with the reservation system, folks still can get access to the park — it just shifts to early morning or late afternoon hours.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road reservation system, for example, last year allowed people to enter the road corridor before 6 a.m. and after 4 p.m. without a reservation.
The North Fork’s was the same morning time, but a bit later at night — at 6 p.m.
The reservation system has worked as intended on the Sun Road — the park was looking to avoid the gridlock it saw in years like 2019 and the reservation system did that, leveling off the peaks in visitation and making the experience more enjoyable for the visitor.
The park has seen an explosion in visitation over the past 10 years — it’s up 64%, with about 3 million visitors a year.
There’s another wrinkle in the summer of 2023 — construction.
Phil Wilson, Glacier’s Chief of Science and Management, said road construction from Apgar to Lake McDonald Lodge will continue through the summer, with one-way traffic and half-hour delays during the day and up to two hour delays at night.
The road is already torn up because of utility work, as the park upgrades sewer lines from the lodge to Apgar as well as phone and other utilities. This summer, the road itself will be rebuilt.
Wilson said the park is hopeful it can get the work done in 2023.