Glacier National Park Announces 2024 Spring Operations

Press Release General News Article

WEST GLACIER, Mont. [May 10, 2024] – Glacier National Park staff are gearing up for the season and while full park operations are still a month off, visitors will see an increase in recreational opportunities throughout May.


The west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road will undergo the last phase of construction work that began in May 2023. The last 2.8 miles of construction will focus on paving Going-to-the-Sun Road, starting west of Sprague Creek Campground up to North Lake McDonald Road. Construction resumed in April 2024, and is expected to be completed in late May to early June 2024, weather permitting. Construction will cause delays along Going-to-the-Sun Road, including weekends through Memorial Day weekend. Visitors should anticipate up to a 30-minute wait. Visitors should drive and bike with caution.


Snow removal on Going-to-the-Sun began the first week of April and will continue until open to Logan Pass. In previous years, the road opened between mid-June and early July but the road may open a little earlier this year. Typical years see snowstorms and avalanches continuing through May, making it impossible to predict an opening date. The road crew actively works across 40 avalanche paths, making operations highly dependent on avalanche hazard conditions.


North Lake McDonald Road is closed to public access including vehicles, hiking, or biking at the intersection with Going-to-the-Sun Road due to the Upper McDonald Creek Bridge replacement project. Parking at the intersection is also closed. Hikers will be unable to complete the Johns Lake Loop Trail and will need to turn around where trail closed signs are posted.

For more information about construction in the park, visit the construction page on the park website.


Many Glacier, Camas, Quarter Circle Bridge, and Chief Mountain roads are open for the season. The road into Two Medicine remains temporarily closed at the park boundary. The Chief Mountain Border Crossing remains closed until May 15. See Canada Border Services Agency website for details.


Vehicle reservations are required for all west side park entrances starting May 24, and Many Glacier entrance starting July 1. Vehicle reservations are not required for St. Mary and Two Medicine entrances in 2024. Check the Glacier National Park website for details.


The vehicle reservation checkpoint on Going-to-the-Sun Road for east-bound traffic will be located at the turn-off for Apgar Loop Road. Visitors without a vehicle reservation or service reservation will be required to take a left turn onto Apgar Loop Road and circle back through Apgar Village. Congestion is expected in Apgar Village and Apgar Visitor Center with limited parking. Only emergency vehicles will be allowed to take a left turn from Apgar Loop Road onto Going-to-the-Sun Road. (See map) Service reservations originating east of Logan Pass cannot be used instead of a vehicle reservation for access past the Apgar Check Point heading east on Going-to-the-Sun Road.


Hiker/Biker Shuttle and Biking Hours on Going-to-the-Sun Road

The park’s free spring hiker/biker shuttle will provide weekend service from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. starting May 11 and ending on June 30, or when Going-to-the-Sun Road opens all the way, whichever comes first. The shuttle will run between Apgar Visitor Center, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Avalanche Creek. The shuttle operates on a first come-first served basis. Daily shuttle operations begin July 1.


Hikers and bikers can travel on Going-to-the-Sun Road as far as posted closures. Access beyond the closures is prohibited, and visitors who disobey the road closure signage are putting their safety, and that of rescue personnel, at risk.


Based on observed traffic patterns during previous vehicle reservation pilot seasons, vehicular traffic is expected to increase every day at 3 pm when vehicle reservations are no longer required for the day. For safety purposes, from May 24 through September 8 whatever portion of Going-to-the-Sun Road that is open to motor vehicles will be closed to bicycle use (both directions) between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. from Apgar to Logan Pass. Currently, Going-to-the-Sun Road is open to vehicles as far as Lake McDonald Lodge but is expected to open to Avalanche Campground by Mother's Day weekend.


Wilderness Permit Offices: 

The Apgar Wilderness Permit office opened May 1. St. Mary, and Many Glacier offices open May 26, and Polebridge opens May 27. Wilderness Permits will not be available at the Two Medicine Ranger Station in 2024. The St. Mary, Apgar and Polebridge permit offices are always accessible without a vehicle reservation. Many Glacier permit office is inside the vehicle reservation area. Once vehicle reservations go into effect for the season, this office can be accessed without a reservation before 6 a.m. and after 3 p.m.


Campgrounds: 

Most frontcountry campgrounds will operate under a reservation system in 2024. Campground reservations can be made on Recreation.gov. Most campsites are reservable approximately six months in advance and several campsites in each campground can be reserved four days in advance to accommodate visitors with more spontaneous itineraries.


Visitors with camping reservations within a vehicle reservation area do not need a vehicle reservation to enter that area. For example, a camping reservation for Avalanche Campground counts as a Going-to-the-Sun Corridor vehicle reservation on the days of the camping reservation. The camping reservation may not be used to access other reservation areas including North Fork and Many Glacier.


As a courtesy to those who wish to camp in the park, visitors are discouraged from making camping reservation solely for the purpose of gaining access to a reservation area. If you have a camping reservation and your plans change, contact Recreation.gov to cancel your reservation so sites can become available for other campers to reserve and enjoy.


Campgrounds in the North Fork area will be assigned first come, first served at the Polebridge Entrance Station.


Frontcountry campgrounds scheduled to open in May include the following:

Apgar Campground: Currently open. Advance camping reservations are required.

Fish Creek Campground: Partially open on May 17 and fully open on May 24. Advance camping reservations are required.

Sprague Creek Campground: Opens May 24. Advance camping reservations are required.

St. Mary Campground: Currently open on a first come, first served basis. Fully open on May 24 and advance camping reservations are required.

Bowman Lake Campground: Opens May 24 on a first come, first serve basis.

Kintla Lake Campground: Opens May 24 on a first come, first serve basis.

Cut Bank Campground: Opens May 31 to primitive camping on a first come, first serve basis.

Other park campgrounds not listed above are expected to open in June and July. Please check the Campground page on the park’s website for a complete list of dates.


Boat Inspections:
Private boating will begin on May 12 for Lake McDonald with the opening of the Apgar AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) inspection station. Private boating for Bowman and Kintla lakes will begin on May May 24 and AIS inspections will take place at the Polebridge Ranger Station.

Many Glacier AIS inspections begin May 26 at the Many Glacier Ranger Station and May 25 at St.Mary. The park anticipates an operational AIS station for Two Medicine in 2024. Opening dates are still to be determined.


Concession Operations:
All park concessions plan to operate this summer. Some concessioner services will open in May including lodging, tours, food service, and retail shops. Visitors can find links to each concessioner service through the Lodging, Restaurants, and Services webpage.


Visitor Centers:
The Apgar Visitor Center is currently staffed on weekends, with daily operations beginning May 11. The St. Mary Visitor Center will be open daily starting May 24.


Much of the park is still snow-covered this time of year and travelers should be prepared for changing conditions. Avalanches are still active on trails and along Going-to-the-Sun Road. Higher elevation trails can be dangerous and snow-covered until late June. Bears are emerging from their dens hungry, and visitors should take steps to travel safely in bear country.


Parking at Logan Pass, Apgar Village, and other areas may be congested or temporarily unavailable. Visitors are encouraged to take advantage of free shuttles for hiker access to Logan Pass although waits for shuttles may be long depending on the time and location. Visitors are encouraged to check the park website frequently for updates and additional information.   


www.nps.gov

Alt Text for Apgar map directions: 

At the four-way intersection of the West Entrance, Camas Road, Apgar Transit Center Loop, and Going-to-the-Sun Road, a text box reads, “Only turn right on Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance if you have a vehicle reservation or a service reservation for Going-to-the-Sun Road.” There is another text box at the Apgar Check Point, located at the intersection of Going-to-the-Sun Road and Apgar Loop Road, that reads, “Vehicle reservations will be checked at the Apgar Check Point. A park ranger will check to see if you have a vehicle reservation for Going-to-the-Sun Road or a qualifying service reservation.” There is another text box along Apgar Loop Road, and Going-to-the-Sun Road, that reads, “A left turn at Apgar Loop Road will not be permitted to turn left on to Going-to-the-Sun Road, at the Apgar Check Point. Left turns will only be authorized for emergency vehicles.”

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