By Amy Beth Hanson ASSOCIATED PRESS
HELENA – Montana’s Glacier National Park will implement a timed ticketed entry system again next summer—from Memorial Day weekend through the weekend after Labor Day—to manage traffic on the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, park officials said Monday.
The park first used a ticketed entry system this year to spread out traffic on the popular alpine highway as more than 3 million people visited. Going-to-the-Sun Road takes visitors over Logan Pass on the Continental Divide, at an elevation of 6,646 feet.
One ticket per vehicle will be required to travel on Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance and the new Camas Entrance from May 27 through Sept. 11. Tickets won’t be required at the St. Mary Entrance on the east side of the park until the Sun Road is fully open, which is typically in late June.
The 2022 entry tickets will be valid for three days rather than seven, as they were this summer, and may allow for more tickets to be sold, park spokesperson Gina Kerzman said Monday.
Park officials expect to have about 4,600 vehicles per day on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, spread out over the day. There will be hours outside peak operating times where entry tickets will not be required, but those times have not yet been set, Kerzman said.
In addition to the timed entry tickets, which can be reserved for $2 after setting up an account at Recreation.gov, visitors must have an entrance pass. Seven-day vehicle passes are $35. People can also enter with an annual park pass or an Interagency Annual or Lifetime pass.
The park anticipates a portion of the 2022 entry tickets will be available online in early March.
Tickets will also be required to enter the northwestern part of the park at Polebridge in 2022. The Polebridge Entrance was closed at some point every day this past summer due to a lack of parking at Bowman and Kintla lakes and a limit to the number of visitors allowed in the area, park officials said.
The Polebridge Entrance leads to the rustic North Fork area of the park, where travel is on rough roads and there are no modern conveniences, including cellphone service. Four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles and the ability to change a tire are recommended for North Fork visitors, the National Park Service said.
Tickets will not be required at other eastern entrances, including Two Medicine and Many Glacier, but entry will be restricted when those areas reach capacity, park officials said. People are encouraged to plan their visits outside of peak hours, which run between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Other national parks are working to manage increasing visitor numbers as well. Arches National Park in Utah announced last week it is implementing a timed entry system next year while Zion National Park is holding a lottery for reservations to hike a popular trail.