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Glacier National Park announces new advance reservation system for wilderness camping permits

Glacier National Park new
Posted at 4:00 PM, Feb 23, 2023

WEST GLACIER - Glacier National Park has announced a new digital permit process for reserving advance wilderness camping permits using the Recreation.gov online reservation system.

Park staff had previously conducted a lengthy lottery process to issue advance reservation permits using Pay.gov and a unique computer application. A news release notes park staff can no longer provide the required maintenance and are migrating away from the application.

Wilderness campsites will be released for advance reservations on Recreation.gov on March 15, 2023, at 8 a.m. A Recreation.gov account is necessary to make reservations. Visit https://www.recreation.gov/ to create an account or to log in to an already existing account.

Park officials are encouraging backpackers to secure a reservation early because of high demand. The most efficient way to book your wilderness backpacking trip is online via Recreation.gov. Reservations can also be made by contacting the Recreation.gov call center at 877-444-6777.

The new online reservation system will only accommodate groups of 1-4 campers per permit. To make advance reservations for groups larger than four on Recreation.gov, backpackers need to be aware of the following permitting requirements:

  • Groups of 5-8 campers will require two separate permits and two separate group leaders.
  • Groups of 9-12 campers will require three separate permits and three separate group leaders.

To provide an alternative way of obtaining a permit for groups larger than four, the park will retain the use of the Pay.gov site for a one-day application period for mid-size and large group permits. The application period for permits via Pay.gov will occur on March 1 from 12:01 am MST and close at 11:59 pm MST.

Group applications submitted to Pay.gov will be placed into a lottery and reservations for successful applicants will be booked on Recreation.gov by park staff. Camping reservations will be awarded to 30 groups of 5-8 campers and 5 groups of 9-12 campers. Successful applicants will be notified via email by park staff and will have five days to submit their payment.

The application period for permits via Pay.gov will occur before advance reservations are available on Recreation.gov. Therefore, visitors planning wilderness camping trips for groups larger than four can first apply for permits using the one-day Pay.gov opportunity, followed by the Recreation.gov site if unsuccessful at Pay.gov.

Because of the high demand for campsites, backpackers are encouraged to discuss plans with members of their party before booking a reservation and be prepared with three or four different trip itineraries in the event your preferred itinerary is not available.

Seventy percent of wilderness campsites park-wide will be available for advance reservations, leaving thirty percent available for walk-up permits the day before or the day of a desired trip start date.

Permit offices are located in Polebridge, Apgar, Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier. A valid wilderness camping advance reservation from Recreation.gov serves as a vehicle reservation the day before or day of a trip starting date.

For complete details, visit the Wilderness Camping Advance Reservations webpage on the park website.