How Do I Get a Wilderness Permit?

A backpacker crosses a suspension bridge in front of snow covered mountains.
Discover Glacier's wilderness through a backcountry trip.

NPS

 
 

Advance vs. Walk-up Permits

A wilderness use permit is required for all overnight camping in the park. For tips on how to get a wilderness permit, watch our Permit Tips video.
 

Advance reservation permits are available for a portion of campground sites in the summer through Recreation.gov. Once all advance reservation permits have been secured, all other wilderness permits are issued via walk-up permits. Please visit the Wilderness Camping Advance Reservation page for details on how to secure an advance reservation permit.

Wilderness permits may be available the day before or day of a desired trip start date. Approximately 30% of all sites in a campground are set aside for walk-up campers. However, that does not mean those sites will be available at all times. Backpackers on longer trips (4 or more nights) may take walk-up sites well in advance. Arrive early the day before your intended trip start date for the best campsite availability. There is a $10 permit fee and additional $7/night per person camping fees, payable at the time of permit issuance. Permits will not be issued after 4:30 pm at any location.
 

Fees

May–October 31: $10 permit fee and additional $7/night per person camping fee payable upon permit issuance online at Recreation.gov or at a wilderness permit office.
November 1–April 30: Winter wilderness camping permits are free.
 

Permit Office Locations and Hours

There are multiple permit office locations around the park for visitor convenience. You can use any open permit office to attempt to secure a walk-up permit or to pick up a permit for which you have an advance reservation. The Many Glacier Ranger Station has limited access in 2024 (see more below).
 

May 1–May 25: Open 8:00 am–4:00 pm*

May 26–September 30: Open 7:30 am–5:00 pm*

October 1October 31: Open 8:00 am–4:00 pm*

November 1–April 30: Closed. Visit the Winter Wilderness Camping page for details on obtaining a permit during this period.

*Last permit of the day is issued one half hour prior to closing.

May 26–September 26: Open 7:30 am–5:00 pm*

September 29–May 25: Closed

*Last permit of the day is issued one half hour prior to closing.

At certain times of the year, a vehicle reservation is required to reach the Many Glacier Ranger Station. You will not be able to access this location between 6 am and 3 pm, unless you have a vehicle reservation for Many Glacier on the day you attempt to enter, or your wilderness itinerary begins or ends at a trailhead within the Many Glacier Valley on the day you attempt to enter. For detailed information, visit our vehicle reservation page.

 

May 24–September 20: Open 7:00 am–5:00 pm

September 21–May 23: Closed


At certain times of the year, a vehicle reservation is required to reach the Polebridge Ranger Station. You will not be able to access this location between 6 am and 3 pm, unless you have a vehicle reservation for the North Fork on the day you attempt to enter, or your wilderness itinerary begins or ends at a trailhead within the North Fork area on the day you attempt to enter. For detailed information, visit our vehicle reservation page.

May 26–September 26: Open 7:30 am–5:00 pm*

September 29–May 25: Closed

*Last permit of the day is issued one half hour prior to closing.

Wilderness Permits will not be available at the Two Medicine Ranger Station in 2024.

The nearest Wilderness Permit issuing station to Two Medicine is the St. Mary Visitor Center. If you do not have a vehicle, A shuttle operated by Pursuit, Glacier Park Collection, is available. For complete shuttle information, including schedules and pricing, please visit Pursuit’s East Side Shuttle page.

May 9–June 27:  Open: 8 am–6 pm

June 28–September 2:  Open: 8 am–7 pm

Waterton Lakes Visitor Centre staff will only issue advance reservation permits that do not require itinerary changes for trips starting at the following trailheads:

Waterton Townsite (WTE)
Goat Haunt (GSE)
Belly River (BRE)

Walk-up permits are not available at this location.

Advance reservations will be issued at 10:00am and 2:00pm MDT


The nearest locations to make itinerary changes or obtain walk-up permits are at the St. Mary Visitor Center or the Many Glacier Ranger Station in Glacier National Park.
 

Regulations

 

Wheelchairs and trained service dogs are appropriate accomodations in wilderness. Due to potential hazardous interactions with bears, service dogs are discouraged. If bringing a service dog into the wilderness, you will be asked to go through a safety briefing at the time of permit issuance and to declare that your dog is current in all vaccinations.

Check out our Accessibility page to learn more.

Wilderness camping is available in 65 designated campgrounds throughout the park, with the exception of the Nyack/Coal Creek camping zone where both designated campgrounds and at-large (undesignated) camping are available.

The maximum party size allowed is 12. Each wilderness campground has 2-7 campsites. Each campsite is limited to four (4) people.

Many of Glacier’s wilderness camping regulations are based on Leave No Trace (LNT) outdoor ethics. LNT tells us that by concentrating impacts, including eating, sleeping, and human waste disposal, we prevent degradation of a broader area. Concentrating impacts essentially creates small pockets of impact and leaves nearly pristine conditions over larger areas.

Learn more about the wilderness character of Glacier.

A wilderness use permit is required for all overnight camping, and must be in your possession while in the backcountry. They are valid only for the dates, locations, and party size specified.

Information regarding the use of stock in wilderness can be found on our Private Stock Use page.

Itineraries must be contiguous. You cannot exit one trailhead and drive to another trailhead to access campgrounds on the same trip. Note: Hiking short road sections on foot—Many Glacier and Two Medicine developed areas, crossing Going to the Sun Road at Jackson Glacier Overlook—to connect longer itineraries is permitted.

  • Undesignated (at-large) camping is offered in the Nyack/Coal Creek Camping Zone, in addition to the designated sites available within this area.
  • Undesignated camping is only available on a walk-up basis the day before or day of a trip start date.
  • Party size is limited to a maximum of six (6) campers from May 1 to October 31.
  • Camping is limited to a maximum of two (2) nights at any one (1) campsite.
  • Wood fires are prohibited. Use of self-contained cookstoves only.
  • Campsites must be located a minimum of 100 feet from lakes, streams, and rivers.
  • Campsites must be located a minimum of 1/2 mile and out of sight and sound of any trail corridor, designated campground, patrol cabin, fire lookout, roadway, developed area, or other camping party.
  • All food, cookware, and garbage must be stored in an Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) approved bear resistant food container, and secured at least 100 feet from your campsite at all times, except when eating. You must show your food storage device to the ranger issuing your undesignated permit before the permit will be issued.
  • Stock are not permitted in undesignated campsites.
  • Utilize a “cat hole” to deposit human waste in organic soil, at least 200 feet from water, or use a “Wag bag”. Pack out toilet paper and other toilet waste products including feminine hygiene products. Urinate on rocks, gravel, or snow to minimize vegetation damage and destructive digging caused by salt seeking animals.

Maximum length of stay in the backcountry is limited to a total of 14 nights during the period of July and August.
 

Special Trip Considerations

 

A 110-mile segment of The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) runs through Glacier. The designated CDT route and an early/late season alternate route are marked in blue on the Wilderness Campground map.

There are special considerations to take into account before you plan a trip across the International Boundary at Goat Haunt. Please read the information on our Visiting Goat Haunt page for details. Crossing the border without following U.S. and Canadian customs procedures can result in a $5,000.00 fine.

The eastern edge of Glacier National Park meets the western edge of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. A Conservation/Recreation Use Permit is required for all recreational activities on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. If any part of your wilderness itinerary involves starting on, ending on, or otherwise using land within the Blackfeet reservation, you must purchase a Conservation/Recreation Use Permit.  A separate permit is required for fishing on the reservation.
For further information call (406) 338-7207.

Interested in doing an overnight river trip? Find all the information you need on our River Camping page. Advance reservations are not allowed for river camping.

Visit our Winter Wilderness Camping page for details on this special, but challenging, time of the year to be in Glacier's backcountry.
 

Additional Resources

Last updated: March 27, 2024

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PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936

Phone:

406-888-7800

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