Where to Ride
Generally, the trails of Glacier National Park are open to stock (i.e., horses, mules, donkeys), as well as foot travel. There are a few trails, however, that due to their physical condition or unsuitability, are not available for stock use (see list below). It is a good idea to check on the status of river crossings, especially the Middle Fork of the Flathead.
Stock use is prohibited on paved roads at all times.
Dirt roads where stock use is permitted include: the Old Flathead Ranger Station Road, the spur road to the Apgar Lookout Trailhead, the Bowman Lake road (when closed to vehicular traffic) and the Inside North Fork road (when closed to vehicular traffic).
Certain conditions may cause trails to be closed to stock use. Generally, this is in the early summer, when they still have steep snow banks, before trails have dried out sufficiently, or during extended periods of wet weather. Bear activity may also result in temporary closures at any time. Detailed reports on trail status are available on our Trail Status page. Trails, backcountry campgrounds, and other areas of the park that have closures are listed on our Trail and Area Closure page. The reports are updated each morning or anytime new information is obtained.
The day use limit shall be no more than 10 animals in a party, except on the trails listed below, where 20 shall be allowed due to special maintenance or other considerations. This list may be modified by the Superintendent.
Overnight limits for specific campgrounds may not be exceeded for day use stop-overs; however, up to five head may be taken into areas that do not allow overnight use. Also, parties which exceed particular limits may pass through the area, but may not remain (Example: A 10-horse party may cross Brown Pass although only 8 head at a time may stop at the Brown Pass Campground).
Low Impact Stock Use
The proper use of Glacier's backcountry will prevent damage to the natural resources, maintain the aesthetic quality of the area, and avoid conflicts with other users. Please comply with the following regulations, guidelines and Leave No Trace techniques.
Overnight use of the backcountry is controlled by the issuance of a Backcountry Use Permit. Permits are issued for periods of up to 6 nights and may be obtained at major ranger stations and backcounty permit offices. Advance reservations may be requested for a fee. Backcountry campgrounds have designated capacities for numbers of people and stock that cannot be exceeded. Competition is very keen at some areas for available space from July to mid-August. Stock users are encouraged to plan overnight trips after this period, when trails and campgrounds are less crowded, in better condition for horse travel, and there are fewer insects. When planning an overnight trip in the backcountry using stock, be aware that certain campsites are not available for stock use due to size or resource considerations. Please see our Backcountry Camping page for more information.
Stock Use at Bowman Lake
Stock users may keep up to ten head of stock at the Bowman Lake Corral while they camp at Bowman Lake Campground (about ¼ mile away). Prior permission must be obtained from the Polebridge Ranger Station (888-7842).
Noxious weed-seed free pellets and grain may be fed, but hay is prohibited.
If you are using a stock truck, there are loading ramps located at the sites listed below. Check with a visitor center or ranger station for exact locations. An information sheet with details about parking and loading ramps, for west side trailheads is available upon request.
The following locations have loading ramps:
Trails Closed to Stock
In the Lake McDonald Valley
At Logan Pass
In the Many Glacier Valley
In the St. Mary Valley
In the Two Medicine Valley
In Other Parts of the Park
Crossing the Border
Special provisions and restrictions apply when crossing the International Boundary with stock. Canadian stockmen must have proof of a Coggins test, endorsed by a veterinarian. Call the Montana State Veterinarian (406) 444-2043 for more information.
U.S. stockmen must obtain a horse use permit from Carway Customs; each animal must have had a Coggins test endorsed by a veterinarian, and must enter and exit at Carway. Length of stay is 72 hours. Call (403) 653-3009 for more details.
Trails with a limit of 20-Head of Stock
Check with Rangers for specific locations.
Private Stock Use brochure
Last updated: August 27, 2018