Despite drop, visitation still strong at Glacier National Park

Posted at 2:48 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 18:21:50-05

WEST GLACIER – Glacier National Park’s final visitor totals for 2018 show a strong year for tourism in the park.

But they couldn’t quite overcome the impact of a wildfire closing down the Park’s most popular section for the second year in a row.

The National Park Service released the final statistics for Glacier visits after the long partial federal government shutdown delayed its completion.

Government employees go back to work at Glacier National Park

The report confirms what had been anticipated, that the weeks-long closure of the Going to the Sun Road because of the Howe Ridge Fire took a big bite out of the tourism traffic.

The blaze not only closed the Logan Pass route, but much of the access to campgrounds, lodging, and trails on the west side of the park.

Even so, the final tally shows total park visits of 2.9 million people, short of 2017’s all-time record of 3.3 million people — a drop of 10%.

However, last year’s total is still almost 20,000 people more than 2016’s total and ranks as the second-busiest year in Glacier National Park’s history.

The government shutdown didn’t seem to have much impact on December’s visits with 4,000 more people coming through the West Entrance.

Reporting by Dennis Bragg for MTN News