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Glacier National Park sets new yearly visitor record - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Glacier National Park sets new yearly visitor record

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GLACIER NATIONAL PARK - Glacier National Park visitation not only broke the three million mark for visitors but easily crushed that mark.

The final report on park visitation from the National Park Service shows over 3.3 million people went through the park gates in 2017, a solid 10% increase over the previous year.

The park passed three million visitors this year in September, even with the fire season cutting access on the west side of the park. 

The new record wasn't unexpected as for the first time in Glacier's history, more than one million people had come through the gates in the month of July -- a jump of more than 23%. Park visitation was already up 11% through the first half of the year. 

While park traffic was flat, or down a little through West Glacier for the year because of the fire closures in August and September, other areas saw robust traffic again this year. St. Mary led all areas with traffic up 43%.

"Thinking about that many people coming to the park and coming to this area in such a short time period. No other big, western, national park has seen one million visitors in a month. So, not Yellowstone, not Yosemite, not the Grand Canyon. So, that was pretty significant," Glacier National Park spokeswoman Lauren Alley said. 

Concession stays were up almost 10% at the park's lodges and hotels. But overnight stays in tents and RVs, which represent the bulk of Glacier's visitors who remain in the park on more than a day trip, was off, likely due to those fire closures on the west side. 

- Jack Ginsburg contributed to this report.

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