WEST GLACIER - People planning to visit Glacier National Park in 2023 can once again expect to use a vehicle reservation system to use Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance and the North Fork area.
The system will be in place from May 26 until Sept. 10, 2023, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Vehicle reservations will also be required for Two Medicine and Many Glacier valleys and the St. Mary Entrance to Going-to-the-Sun Road on the east side of the park from July 1 through Sept. 10, 2023, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This will be the third year of the pilot reservation system in the park. The system aims to manage high traffic volumes and to protect natural and cultural resources while delivering quality visitor experiences, according to a news release.
Park officials say the decision to add Many Glacier and Two Medicine valleys to the reservation system was based on review of data collected during the two previous years. Patterns show an increased need to restrict traffic when parking capacity was surpassed.
Meetings were held with businesses and stakeholders this fall to share the data and gather input. Based on feedback, park officials chose to limit the reservation time period at Two Medicine, Many Glacier, and the St. Mary Entrance to Going-to-the-Sun Road to July 1 through Sept. 10 and to limit the hours of the reservation period to 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Visitors to the east side of the park without a reservation will still be able to visit Two Medicine and Many Glacier before 6 a.m. and after 3 p.m. and will be able to visit the St. Mary visitor center for access to free shuttles to Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Once again next year, landowners inside the park are not required to have a vehicle reservation to access their properties. Vehicle reservations are also not required for tribal members throughout the park.
Vehicle reservations will be available on Recreation.gov. Each of the specified areas of the park will require a separate reservation. Similar to last year, visitors will need to set up an account on Recreation.gov to obtain reservations. The only cost associated with booking a reservation is a $2 processing fee.
New for the 2023 season, vehicle reservations will be available through two types of booking windows. A portion of reservations will be available approximately four months or 120-days in advance, using a block-release system.
The first block of advanced reservations will be available through Recreation.gov at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Feb. 1, 2023. This round of reservations will be available to enter Going-to-the-Sun Road or the North Fork for May 26 through June 30.
The next release will occur on March 1, 2023, for July 1 through July 31, including the reservation areas for Going-to-the-Sun Road, North Fork, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier.
On April 1, 2023, reservations will be available for all areas for August 1 through August 31.
Then On May 1, 2023, reservations will be available for all areas for September 1 through September 10.
Like last year, a portion of reservations for all areas of the park will be available on a rolling basis at 8 a.m. 24-hours in advance.
One reservation per vehicle will again be required to enter Going-to-the-Sun Road at the West Entrance, and the Camas Entrance from May 26 through Sept. 10, 2023. Reservations are good for three days.
Similar to last year, Apgar Village and the Apgar visitor center are located inside the West Entrance and require a vehicle reservation to access. New in 2023, reservations will only be required until 3 p.m. In 2022, reservations were required until 4 p.m.
As in 2022, one reservation per vehicle will be required at the Polebridge Ranger Station to visit the North Fork area of the park in 2023. Reservations are good for one day. New in 2023, visitors can enter before 6 a.m. or after 3 p.m. without a reservation. In 2022, reservations were required until 6 p.m.
New in 2023, one reservation per vehicle per valley will be required to access Two Medicine and Many Glacier valleys on the east side of the park from July 1 through Sept. 10 from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are good for one day.
Also new in 2023, reservations will not be required at the St. Mary Entrance until July 1. Beginning July 1 through Sept. 10, 2023, a vehicle reservation will be required to access Going-to-the-Sun Road from the St. Mary Entrance. Like last year, vehicle reservations will be checked at the Rising Sun checkpoint, six miles inside the St. Mary Entrance, and visitors will have access to the St. Mary visitor center and park shuttle outside of the vehicle reservation area.
In addition to a vehicle reservation, each vehicle entering the park is required to have an entrance pass for any entry point into the park. These passes could include any one of the following: a $35 vehicle pass, good for seven days; a valid Interagency Annual/Lifetime Pass; or a Glacier National Park Annual Pass.
Visitors with lodging, camping, transportation, or commercial activity reservations within the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor, Many Glacier, or Two Medicine can use their reservation for entry in lieu of a $2 reservation to gain access to the portion of the park for which they have a reservation.
Prior to July 1, when the reservation requirements begin, the park anticipates congestion at Two Medicine and Many Glacier valleys. As in past years, entry will be temporarily restricted if these areas reach capacity.
Visitors are encouraged to plan their visit outside of peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Visitors with service reservations (e.g., boat tours, lodging, horseback ride, guided hikes) in these valleys will be permitted entry during temporary restrictions.
Visitors should anticipate up to a 30-minute wait due to construction on Going-to-the-Sun Road along Lake McDonald starting in June. Additional details about construction will be posted on the park website as they become available. Entry to Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance before the 6 a.m. reservation period will not be possible due to construction activities.
To avoid congestion-related delays, visitors are encouraged to use the St. Mary Entrance to access Going-to-the-Sun Road, including popular attractions such as Logan Pass and Avalanche.
Additional details about the vehicle reservation system are still in development. Updates will be provided on the Glacier National Park website as more information becomes available.