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Contact: Gina Kerzman, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, Mont. [June 12, 2020]– Glacier National Park continues their adaptive operational recovery as additional portions of the park become available this weekend and on Monday, June 15.
Below is a forecast of what to expect in the park this weekend and starting Monday, June 15. In addition, there are several changes to the backcountry permit process.
Continuing through the Weekend
The west entrance to the park will open by 8:00 am, as conditions permit, and close at 4:30 pm. After 4:30 pm additional entries will not be allowed, including hikers and bikers. Visitors already in the park are not required to leave by 4:30 and are free to exit after finishing their recreational activities. No overnight use of the park is permitted at this time and the campgrounds and lodges are currently closed.
Visitors will be able to access Apgar and Going-to-the-Sun Road as far as Lake McDonald Lodge.
Restrooms will remain open after 4:30 pm. A few public bathrooms in the park will not be open this year due to the increased cleaning frequency required by COVID-19 mitigations. One of those is the Education Center facilities in Apgar. Those bathrooms are closed this year to allow the other facilities to be cleaned and disinfected more frequently.
Lake McDonald is currently the only waters open to boating (non-motorized only.) The Aquatic Inspection Station is open at Apgar from 9am-7pm. All watercraft must be cleaned thoroughly before coming to inspection station. Please review the park’s website regarding watercraft prior to arrival.
Visitors should come prepared and follow all CDC and local health guidance by practicing good hygiene and social distancing. Face coverings are recommended where social distancing is not possible. People who are sick should stay home and not visit the park. The CDC has provided specific guidance on visiting parks and recreational facilities.
What Changes in the Park this Weekend?
- This weekend, hikers and bikers can go as far as they like on Going to the Sun Road past Lake McDonald Lodge at their own risk. Visitors are discouraged from going past the Loop due to falling rock and avalanche danger. Depending on avalanche concerns, closure may be instituted on a case-by-case basis.
- The Swan Mountain Apgar horseback rides will start on June 13.
What Changes on Monday, June 15?
- Starting Monday, June 15, the west entrance gate will no longer close at 4:30 pm.
- Camas Road will be open on June 15. The North Fork portion of the park will open and hiking trails, including trails to Bowman and Kintla Lake, will open for day use only. Campgrounds will remain closed and Bowman and Kintla Lakes remain closed at this time.
- Starting June 15, Going-to-the-Sun Road will open to Avalanche and the campground will be available for day-use parking. Only the restroom at the shuttle stop will be available.
- On June 15, Village Inn Hotel and Lake McDonald Lodge open to overnight guests only. The Lodge lobby and restrooms will be closed to day-use visitors. Food service will be take-out only and orders can be placed on the lakeside exterior of the building. The bar and gift shop in the Lodge will be closed.
- Lake McDonald Campstore opens and restrooms in the old post office will be open to the public on June 15.
- Backcountry permits will be available starting June 26. This is a correction to a previous news release that stated an incorrect date of June 21.
- There will be no undesignated camping permits or advance reservations for the 2020 summer season. All backcountry permits will be obtained using the first come, first served walk-in system.
- Starting June 26, permits can be purchased on the west side at Apgar Visitor Center from 8am-4pm. Tentatively starting by July 1, permits can be purchased on the east side at St. Mary Visitor Center from 8am- 4pm. These are the only locations where backcountry permits can be purchased for the 2020 season. Permits will not be obtainable at Many Glacier, Two Medicine, Polebridge, or Waterton this summer. Credit and debit cards will be the only form of payment accepted in 2020.
Masks or cloth face coverings are strongly encouraged to be worn while inside backcountry permit offices. Backcountry staff will be wearing them out of respect for public health. Physical distancing guidelines will be observed at all backcountry permit offices, which may result in longer wait times and/or lines outside the office buildings. A maximum of four people will be allowed in the backcountry office at any time. Any additional party members may join the group for a safety briefing outdoors after a permit is obtained.
Additional potential health risks must be assumed for overnight backcountry trips, ex. shared pit toilets and food prep areas in all campgrounds. Please consult the park website for further information on preparedness before embarking on a backcountry trip.
The Goat Haunt border crossing will be closed for the 2020 season. Continental Divide Trail hikers, please call 406-888-7859 for further information.
Last updated: June 12, 2020