Major road construction along the only route that crosses Glacier National Park apparently is not going to deter visitors from traveling to this craggy park in northern Montana. During July a near-record 673,359 visitors entered the park.
Park officials say that estimated turnout marked an 11.5 percent increase over 2009 visitation numbers for the same month. The only July with greater visitation numbers was in 1983, when an estimated 689,489 people came to Glacier, the park announced.
In 1983, the park saw its highest visitation numbers for a single year, 2,203,847. The year-to-date total for 2010 is outpacing the 1983 total for the same time period.
The numbers are impressive when you consider that construction along the Going-to-the-Sun Road can lead to delays in crossing the park, and yet visitors obviously don't seem to mind.
Among other statistics, park officials say tent camping in July was up 4 percent, backcountry overnight visits were up 7 percent, and group camping was up 20 percent.
Sun Tours, which operates bus tours in Glacier with a Blackfeet perspective, also reported an increase in July visitors, and strong reservations for the rest of the summer, the park said. At Glacier Park Inc., which operates lodging and the red buses in the park, officials reported that it was a strong July for them as well.
Yet another park concessioner, Glacier Park Boat Company, saw a 10 percent increase in boat trips and rentals, and report a significant increase in reservations for August and September, park officials said.
“We are overwhelmed that so many people are choosing to spend their vacation in Glacier this summer. It is a great way to help commemorate the park’s centennial," said Glacier Superintendent Chas Cartwright. "We also thank park visitors for being patient while a number of construction projects take place this summer.”