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Glacier National Park visits strong in September, but record looks out of reach

Posted at 4:23 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-11 11:13:35-04

WEST GLACIER – Visits to Glacier National Park remained strong in September according to a Park Service report, even with a fire season shutting down the Going-to-the-Sun Road for the second year in a row.

But it appears Glacier visits won’t be setting a new record, or even matching last year’s mark, breaking the streak of multiple visitor records in a row.

At times this year, visits to Glacier National Park have actually outpaced the 2017 pace, when over 3.2 million people came through the gates.

The latest statistics show that happened again in September when 434,000 people came to Glacier. That’s above last September’s 389,000 visits.

The comparison is an interesting one because both periods were interrupted by fires shutting down the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road for several weeks. Last year it was the Sprague Fire, and this year, the Howe Ridge Fire. The numbers show visitors are still coming to the park, even with the cross-park road closed and lots on fire pictures and video being shared on social media. That had been a major concern of the local tourism industry.

Even with the Sun Road closure, traffic through the West Entrance was up nearly 20-percent. Other spots like Many Glacier and Goat Lick also showed strong traffic in September.

However, even with that strong showing, it seems unlikely Glacier will come close to last year’s record visits. In the last three months of 2017, just over 100,000 people came to the park. This year total visits are at 2.8 million going into the final quarter, and snow is already closing down Going-to-the-Sun and other areas.