Glacier National Park Ready For Winter

Heaven's Peak is a thing to see in winter, but to do so you'll have to be a strong cross-country skier or snowshoer. NPS photo.

The winter season has officially arrived at Glacier National Park, where reduced entrance fees are in place and snows are encroaching on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Through next April 30 entrance fees to the park are $15 for vehicles and $10 for single entrants (hiker/bicyclist/motorcyclist) for a seven-day pass. These reduced winter fees reflect the limited park services available during winter months.

Annual park passes, which allow visitors unlimited entry to the park for 12 months from the date of purchase, are available for purchase for $35. Annual park passes may be purchased at park headquarters on weekdays, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., or by calling 406-888-7800.

Winter hours for the Apgar Visitor Center are weekends, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. During the week, visitors may obtain information and assistance at park headquarters in West Glacier. The Montana House and Eddie’s are open throughout the winter in Apgar Village.

The Park Service plows and maintains the Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier to the Lake McDonald Lodge, a distance of 10 miles, and from the St. Mary entrance to the gate near the St. Mary campground on the east side, weather permitting.

Currently, there is access on the west-side Going-to-the-Sun Road to Avalanche Creek as weather conditions allow through December 14, and access on the east side to Rising Sun, as weather condition allow through December 31. Throughout the winter, most park roads will not be plowed and snow will be allowed to accumulate for non-mechanized recreational use such as cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

For updated park road access and condition information, please visit the park’s website at http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/roadstatus/roadstatus.cfm . Road conditions are also available by calling 511, the Montana Department of Transportation Traveler Information System or at 1-800-226-7623.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities in the park. Park ranger-led snowshoe walks in the Apgar area will begin in January. The walks are free and begin at the Apgar Visitor Center beginning at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday, January 7 through March 18. Dogs are not allowed on park trails, including park roads that are used as winter trails. Winter recreationists traveling to the North Fork area are reminded that the Polebridge Mercantile is not open during the winter.

Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and be prepared for winter conditions at the park. Weather can change quickly and create hazardous conditions. Weather conditions near the Continental Divide and throughout the park can be vastly different from the Flathead Valley or other parts of Montana.

Avalanches present a danger in the backcountry. Please visit the Glacier Avalanche Center website at www.glacieravalanche.org or call 406-257-8402 for information on avalanche hazards and weather advisories. Because of the general nature of area advisories, each backcountry party will always need to make their own time and site-specific avalanche hazard evaluations. Advisories best describe conditions at the time of issuance. As time passes, avalanche and snow conditions may change, sometimes quite rapidly.

Winter camping is available in the park at Apgar Picnic Area and St. Mary Campground. There is no cost for winter camping and no services, including water, are available. A valid park entrance pass is required. Backcountry permits are required for winter backcountry travelers for all overnight backcountry trips. Winter permits are available, at no charge, from park headquarters during the week, and on weekends at the Apgar Visitor Center, or by calling in advance at 406-888-7800.

Park visitors planning to launch a boat into any park waters throughout the winter are encouraged to call the park at 406-888-7801 to arrange for an inspection. Launching a boat without an inspection in Glacier National Park threatens park resources and is illegal, with a fine up to $500.

Park entrance fees are required. When an entrance stations is not staffed, it is the responsibility of the visitor to follow posted instructions to pay entrance fees at self-pay stations at respective park entrances.