GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – Glacier National Park is known for its scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, its glaciers, its historic hotels among many other things.
But lately the park has become known for its monthly record breaking visitation, and they did it again in July. Last month, however, it was a different record. This year was the first time ever the park hosted over a million visitors in the month of July alone; an overwhelming 23 percent higher than last July.
Park spokeswoman Lauren Alley said not only the roads are packed, but the trails as well. With more people typically comes more injuries. In the last 15 days of July, the park responded to 15 calls for heat exhaustion on the Loop Trail alone.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of calls from emergency medical service. More people in the park means more calls. Anything that people can do to make sure they’re more prepared, that they have water, that they have the proper clothing and the proper footwear would really help us out.”
With the high visitation numbers, park officials have seen a lot of traffic and parking issues. Next week the park will implement a one-hour time limit on 60 spaces at Logan Pass for those who are just stopping to take pictures, use the rest room or do a short hike.
On top of crowded parking lots, there has been more traffic stops along the Going-to-the-Sun Road while the park continues to build more parking along the iconic roadway.
What will happen next year? Alley said it depends on a lot of outside factors and can be difficult to predict.
“Ya know visitation is a little bit of a guess every year it has a lot to do with gas prices, with what else is going on in the world and certainly even wildfires, so right now it is difficult to expect… that we will necessarily see a given number next year and time will tell.”
Glacier has numerous resources on its website for people looking to plan their trip, including videos about back country safety and descriptions of the top hazards in the park.
The Park recorded an estimated 1,009,665 visitors for July.
MTN’s Jack Ginsburg