Glacier NP announces boating dates, inspection procedures

Posted at 3:02 PM, May 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-14 17:58:58-04

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – Waters at Glacier National Park are opening up for the season.

The  Lake McDonald area inspection stations and west side waters opened up to boating on May 11. East side park waters and inspection stations will open to boating on June 1.

Park officials note that visitors should plan ahead, build time into their schedules, and have their watercraft clean, drained, dry, and ready for inspection upon arrival.

Although many non-motorized boats can be inspected on top of vehicle roof racks, boaters should be prepared to take their boats down for inspection, especially if they have internal standing water or are dirty.

Glacier National Park spokeswoman Lauren Alley says they will continue to assess the inspection program and aquatic invasive species threat throughout the summer and may make adjustments.

The park’s aquatic invasive species prevention program and boating regulations have undergone significant changes since 2016 following the detection of invasive quagga or zebra mussels within the State of Montana, according to Alley.

Glacier National Park once again has received funding from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, which Alley notes will allow for an expanded inspection capacity to prevent the introduction of non-native aquatic invaders.

The money will also allow the park to offer significantly extended inspection dates and hours of operation.

Park personnel inspected 10,742 non-motorized watercraft in 2018.

Procedures for Gas Powered Watercraft

  • Gas-powered motorized watercraft to be allowed on Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, and Bowman Lakes after 30-day “dry time”
  • Watercraft should be clean, drained, and dry before inspection (see detailed boat inspection standards below)
  • Motorized boats will be sealed to trailers after inspection, and must maintain intact seal and documentation of inspection and sealing for 30-day dry time
  • Park staff will check documentation and remove seals prior to launch
  • Inspection seals from Montana State, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish-Kootenai, and Whitefish Lake inspection stations will be honored on Lake McDonald and Two Medicine Lake after 30-day “dry time”
  • Boaters on Two Medicine and Bowman Lakes should review the Glacier National Park boating page for specific instructions related to quarantine and launch for those areas, as well as motor size restrictions
  • Hand-launched gas-powered watercraft of less than 10hp will be allowed on Bowman Lake, but trailers are not permitted on Bowman Road, therefore hand launching is required

Procedures for Hand Propelled Watercraft

  • After inspection, non-motorized, non-trailered watercraft also may launch on May 11 on west side waters without the 30-day dry time
  • All watercraft should be clean, drained, and dry before inspection (see detailed boat inspection standards below)
  • Non-trailered boats with electric trolling motors may launch on Lake McDonald, Bowman, Two Medicine, St. Mary, Sherburne, and Swiftcurrent Lakes without a 30-day dry time because the air-cooled motors are classified as lower risk

Procedures for Watercraft Available for Rent

  • Motorized watercraft rented and operated under National Park Service contract with Glacier Park Boat Company will continue to be available, in addition to boat tours
  • Motorboat rentals will be available this summer on Lake McDonald and Two Medicine Lake

AIS Detection Dogs

This year, the park and partner agencies will provide dogs specially trained in invasive mussel detection. These aquatic invasive species (AIS) detection dogs will use scent to assist human inspectors at select inspection stations this summer.

Working Dogs for Conservation in Bozeman and Black Dog Services in Missoula will provide the dogs. Other project partners include Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, the Blackfeet Tribe, and the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes.

Because of expense and time factors, the dogs’ work is limited in Montana. However, they do an important job and serve as an innovative outreach tool to communicate with the public about the importance of aquatic invasive species prevention.

When finalized, the schedule for AIS detection dogs visiting state, tribal, and federal inspection stations will be posted on the Glacier National Park boating page.

 Boat Inspection Standards

  • All watercraft must be clean, drained, and dry prior to inspection
  • All non-motorized watercraft will be inspected, including but not limited to canoes, kayaks, row boats, sail boats, paddleboards, float tubes, inner tubes, and wind surfboards
  • Small, low-grade inflatable children’s water toys including water wings, rings, etc. will not require a permit
  • Watercraft must be accessible and inflated for inspection: uninflated rafts or float tubes, watercraft with internal water holding tanks, wash systems, etc. will be denied a launch permit
  • New, unused inflatable watercraft will not require an inspection; however, they will require a permit before launching
  • An inspection will be required upon each entry to the park if intending to launch, but visitors staying overnight in the park will not need a daily inspection

Procedures and locations for obtaining a non-motorized watercraft launch permit:

Lake McDonald*

Parking lot across the street from the Apgar boat ramp

May 11– May 25 / 7:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m.

May 26 – October 31 / 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (station closure times will adjust as summer daylight wanes)

*Offers motorized boat inspections and seals

North Fork Area

There are no inspection stations located in the North Fork region. Boaters traveling to the North Fork should visit the Lake McDonald inspection station prior to launch.

North Fork residents should contact the Polebridge Ranger Station for possible alternate inspection procedures and motorized boat resealing.

Two Medicine Ranger Station*

June 1 – September 28 / 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

*Offers motorized boat inspections and seals

St. Mary Visitor Center

June 1 – September 28 / 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Many Glacier Ranger Station

June 1 – September 28 / 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.