You may have heard about Glacier’s new system of ticketed entry, first effective in 2021. And it continues into the summer season of 2022. With the second highest visitation on record in 2021, even with the ticketed entry system, it’s clearly helped manage congestion. The park reported that ticketed entry helped prevent closing down the Going-to-the-Sun Road entirely an estimated 35 times last year. The ticketing system doesn’t need to throw a wrench in your travel plans. Here’s what you need to know to plan ahead and enjoy a peaceful visit to Glacier.
It’s true that a lot of people have been upset by the new restrictions. But the park’s managers implemented them for a reason. With growing visitation comes increased pressure on the park’s resources. And that can lead to issues with wildlife, road and trail maintenance, and overwhelmed services. In order to keep visits to national parks sustainable, sometimes limiting the flow of visitors is necessary.
New in 2022, tickets aren’t just for the Going-to-the-Sun Road anymore. Because of heavy visitation pushed to other entrances in 2021, the park implemented a separate ticket system for the Polebridge Ranger Station entrance on the North Fork as well.
In 2021, tickets were valid for seven days. In 2022, Going-to-the-Sun Road tickets are valid for three days, while North Fork tickets are valid for one day.
Instead of just your parkpass—whether it’s a pass specific to Glacier, an entry fee paid at the gate, or one of the America the Beautiful annual passes—you now also need an entry ticket to get in.
You can purchase your tickets online at Recreation.gov. The NPS doesn’t charge for them, but there is a $2 booking fee through the online system.
A portion of available tickets get released on a rolling basis 120 days before the date of the reservation. The remainder will become available the day before the effective date.
If tickets aren’t available for your dates, there are a few ways to—legally—get in anyway. Tickets are only required from May 27 through September 11, so visiting in the shoulder or off season might be an option for you. Of course, the Going-to-the-Sun Road usually isn’t open to vehicle traffic until late June, and early fall snow storms might close it at any time. But if you’re comfortable with a little unpredictability, going outside the reservation window could be a good fit.
The same goes for time of day. Early risers and night owls can get in without a ticket before 6 am and after 4 pm on the GTSR corridor, or before 6 am and after 6 pm in Polebridge. But keep in mind that planned utility and road construction will likely lead to night road closures this year.
If you book with a guide, a tour, a trip, or you make another service reservation inside the park, your booking confirmation also takes the place of the entry ticket. Of course, you still need your park pass to get in.
During peak times, you can still expect crowds at the most popular spots, with the potential for full parking lots and crowded trailheads. But in general, the ticketing system has led to a much more relaxed experience for park visitors. Take the opportunity to find some quality quiet time in nature.
When your Glacier getaway is calling, Highline Adventures properties can give a sustainable home base for outdoor fun. Check out the options for camping and hotel stays near the park, and book now.