WEST GLACIER — After years of overcrowding and road closures, Glacier National Park's iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road is now under ticketed entry. Tickets are only required for the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Friday was the first day for tourists to navigate the new system, even while the scenic highway is still being plowed for the season.
With tickets selling out fast and more people than ever taking a road trip this summer, tourists may have been surprised.
Christian Collwell and his family are visiting Glacier National Park from Colorado. He said, “I came here last summer for the first time and obviously there wasn't ticketed entry and it was easy to get into the park, it was amazing, didn’t have to worry too much and this year definitely requires some extra planning."
For them, the first day of the ticketed entry system was a struggle, especially for getting tickets online: “The main issue is that they had a lot of traffic, and so a lot of tickets the tickets were gone within sixty seconds."
Luckily for Collwell, he was staying at a campsite, so he and his family got into the park.
As for Washington D.C. resident Russell Aldrich, it's just exciting to be in the Big Sky State. He said, “We've never been to the park so it's going to be I think I've everything we've read about it is it's beautiful and we can't wait to see it."
Park officials say opening day was a great start to the season, with park spokesperson Gina Kerzman saying, "Overall operations went well this morning, of course we'll work out a few little bugs that we might have had.”
Even if you could not snag a ticket for entry there are still ways to see the park: “You can visit the north fork to medicine Cut Bank and then later this month we will have Many Glacier online,” said Kerzman.
Park officials say that more than 200 cars were in their "ticket corral," meaning they had to be turned away from entry or go to a different entrance.