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Glacier National Park Enjoys Bullish July


Avalanche Creek in Glacier National Park. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Major road construction along the only route that crosses Glacier National Park apparently is not going to deter visitors from traveling to this craggy park in northern Montana. During July a near-record 673,359 visitors entered the park.

Park officials say that estimated turnout marked an 11.5 percent increase over 2009 visitation numbers for the same month. The only July with greater visitation numbers was in 1983, when an estimated 689,489 people came to Glacier, the park announced.

In 1983, the park saw its highest visitation numbers for a single year, 2,203,847. The year-to-date total for 2010 is outpacing the 1983 total for the same time period.

The numbers are impressive when you consider that construction along the Going-to-the-Sun Road can lead to delays in crossing the park, and yet visitors obviously don't seem to mind.

Among other statistics, park officials say tent camping in July was up 4 percent, backcountry overnight visits were up 7 percent, and group camping was up 20 percent.

Sun Tours, which operates bus tours in Glacier with a Blackfeet perspective, also reported an increase in July visitors, and strong reservations for the rest of the summer, the park said. At Glacier Park Inc., which operates lodging and the red buses in the park, officials reported that it was a strong July for them as well.

Yet another park concessioner, Glacier Park Boat Company, saw a 10 percent increase in boat trips and rentals, and report a significant increase in reservations for August and September, park officials said.

“We are overwhelmed that so many people are choosing to spend their vacation in Glacier this summer. It is a great way to help commemorate the park’s centennial," said Glacier Superintendent Chas Cartwright. "We also thank park visitors for being patient while a number of construction projects take place this summer.”


Glacier is my favorite Park that I've been too and I am pleased to say that my Husband and I were 2 of those July visitors. My husband took me on my first overnight back country hike in the 2 Medicine area so I am part of that 7% increase as well. Glacier is a majestic Park, a hiker's paradise!

I'm also very happy that my girlfriend and I added 2 people to both Glacier Park's and the Boat Company's statistics. Interestingly, 1983 was preceded by a recession, just as 2010 was preceded by a recession. The people I met on the trails confirmed that they would rather spend the money they had on vacations here in the U.S., hiking and camping, rather than spend the money on luxuries overseas. This caution may have something to do with the increase in visitors. Unfortunately, I experienced a personal setback after vacationing in Glacier and was laid off. However, I was glad I spent my time in Glacier, enjoying a thrifty vacation while I could still afford it.

Isn't this all Ken Burns' fault?

My family of 4 also enjoyed a July visit to Glacier and Waterton. I felt the construction did take away from the white knuckle experience of Going to the Sun Road which I had told my wife and kids about. The traffic was bumper to bumper and single lane. We moved very slowly. We did enjoy many hikes even though there was lots of people.We stayed at Glacier Park Lodge and Prince of Wales. Although expensive, It has always been my dream to stay in a park lodge. Both were great experiences that added to our memories of Glacier. By the way, I have the same picture!

Hey Dave Crowl,
My Hub and I enjoyed GPL as well as Many Glacier Hotel this trip. GPL has gorgeous grounds and Many Glacier has a magnificent setting right on the Swiftcurrent Lake. We did Prince of Wales back in 2005 and the setting is truly beautiful! We've not been back but can at least say we experienced it.

We made the decision to only go as far as Logan Pass this time and not hassle with the traffic. It was still a 5 star trip for us in spite of the road construction. Someone told us that this was year 4 of a 10 year project. I don't know if that's true or not but I would put up with that traffic no matter what just to experience the majesty of this beautiful NP!

I'll be heading to Glacier National Park in Montana in late August, and will have two days there. Are there any particular hiking trails or other spots that I should be sure not to miss while I'm there? Thanks!

Countless, just countless. Crowd pleasers, and as such likely to draw crowds, are both the hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook and to Avalanche Lake. Both both are spectacular, and if you hike to the far end of Avalanche Lake you'll leave most folks behind.

I'm sure others can recommend other highly worthy additions.

My personal recommendation would be Ptarmigan Tunnel, Iceberg Lake, Grinnell Glacier or the Garden Wall Loop (up to Granite Park Chalet and down). These are worth the energy expended! You'll need to double-check that the trails aren't closed due to bear activity on all of these hikes.

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