Last updated: June 26, 2015
If you didn't put your name into the advanced reservation lottery or your advanced reservation request was rejected –don't sweat yet. We reserve a little under half of our backcountry sites for backpackers just walking in. We'll issue those permits to you in person at our permit offices no more than 24 hours in advance of the first night of your trip.
So what are the trails like right now? Check out our Detailed Trail Status and Maintenance Reports. Then click on the area of the park you wish to explore for the most recent reports from our backcountry rangers.
This year the lower elevation backcountry campgrounds are emerging from winter's snow much earlier than usual. For example, St Mary Backcountry Ranger Dennis and I did reconnaissance of Gunsight Lake backcountry campground and were surprised to find it snow-free and ready for campers! Some years bury this campground under snow into July. The catch…the Going-to-the-Sun Road is not open to the typical trailhead yet. Check the Current Road Status. One way to get to the lake is by taking the Red Eagle Trail from the 1913 Ranger Station, splitting onto the St. Mary Lake Trail and then catching the Gunsight Pass Trail at that point. By doing this, your 6.2 mile hike to Gunsight Lake becomes a 22.0 mile backcountry endeavor. And Gunsight Pass…well, the snow on the way up is still very present. Route finding, ice axe, crampons and mountaineering skills are still necessary to traverse those steep snow slopes. What am I getting at? *Planning your route can be more difficult this time of year.*
Don't worry, most of our backcountry campgrounds are currently accessible from their typical trailheads. Come into one of our permit offices and talk to one of our permit staff. We'll have up-to-date walk-in availability waiting for you and are glad to help you negotiate through which campgrounds are still perilously under snow and which are waiting for you already snow-free. You can also see the walk- in availability online https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm to see what's available. The # sign indicates a campground is still under snow, but we still allow one group per night at these winter status sites. You may have to check out a bear vault for food storage since snow could make our food storage devices inoperable!
Hope we find you here soon! And stay tuned…