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Severe weather affecting Glacier County tourism

Posted at 9:36 AM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 13:42:52-04

Glacier County has been experiencing severe weather this week, affecting business and travel plans for some tourists.

Glacier and Yellowstone national parks both give Montana a lot of its tourism. With Yellowstone closed due to flooding, that’s one less national park for tourists to visit, sending more people to Glacier.

The McCawley family is one example. They’re visiting for the first time from Austin, Texas, and went from triple-digit temperatures to nearly-freezing temperatures and snow. They also left Yellowstone for Glacier just before it closed.

“We were up in Gardiner for a night, and it started raining pretty hard on the way up here,” Chris McCawley said. “So we figured we just got out by the skin of our teeth before they closed Yellowstone. I think there are a number of people that would have gone to Yellowstone that are probably coming up here to Glacier.”

Business in Glacier National Park is on the rise due to Yellowstone’s closure, especially lodging. Many people like to drive from Glacier to Yellowstone or vice versa, but that’s not an option right now, leaving some guests staying in Glacier longer than they anticipated.

Keely Mackey — who works at the Glacier Park Lodge — says they are at about 83% occupancy and are expecting to be close to 100% in the next few weeks. Mackey noted that people are extending stays due to weather forecasts for the next few days and not wanting to get caught in bad weather in the park.

“When Yellowstone had shut down all its borders and was evacuating, we had people show up just looking for a room for the night and even extending into three days because they were very unsure of what was coming,” Mackey said. “We had most of our rooms; we were pretty much booked completely and were shuffling around rooms to get ready so that every that we had possible we were able to give to people that needed somewhere to stay for the night."