Glacier NP Is Open For Business

An afternoon shot from St. Mary in Glacier shows smoke from fires outside the park. NPS Photo

While Montana has been much in the news lately, courtesy of all the forest fires burning in that state, the folks at Glacier National Park want to assure you that the park is open for business and flame-free.

Park operations have not been affected by the fires, they say, and all park entrances are open and ranger-led interpretive programs are continuing. All concession-operated services, including lodging, tours, horseback rides, boat cruises, and guided day hikes and backpacking trips, are also ongoing.

Glacier has recorded ten small fires this summer that, cumulatively, have burned less than 10 acres.

A smoky haze caused by the nearby fire activity is affecting some areas of the park. Smoke conditions change depending upon nearby fire behavior, the direction of the wind, and weather. Visitors can view current conditions through the park’s Web cameras which are available at this site.

Though the park does not have specific air quality ratings, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality posts forest fire air quality updates daily online at this site.. Park officials are suggesting that visitors should discuss specific concerns about air quality with their health-care professional.

A few trails or trail segments in Glacier have been temporarily closed due to the Skyland Fire, which is located outside the southeast part of the park. The temporary closures include: Lubec Trailhead to Firebrand Pass, Marias Pass Trailhead to Firebrand Pass Junction, Firebrand Junction to Midvale Creek Trailhead, Summit Trail Junction to Burlington Northern Railroad Tracks, and the Ole Creek Trail - from Field Coal Creek Junction to Ole Lake Campground. The Ole Lake Campground, in the backcountry, is also temporarily closed.

“Despite the nearby fire activity, Glacier is open and is only minimally impacted by the nearby fire activity. There is still much to do and great views and hikes can still be enjoyed in many areas of the park,” notes Superintendent Mick Holm. “To put the fires into context, consider taking advantage of our fire-themed free ranger lead hikes offered in both the Lake McDonald and St. Mary area. These hikes will explain the role wildland fires play in a healthy ecosystem.”

All that said, park visitors are reminded that Stage II fire restrictions are in effect in Glacier. All campfires are prohibited. (Fires fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels are authorized.) Smoking is also prohibited, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials. Visitors should note that they cannot clear an area in which to smoke.

Information about roads throughout Montana is available by calling 511, the Montana Department of Transportation Traveler Information System. Visitors outside of Montana can call 1-800-226-7623. Both numbers are toll-free. For information on the fires burning in Northwest Montana, or throughout the country, visit this site.