Winter doesn't easily let go in places such as Glacier National Park in northern Montana, and while the park will be open for visitors on Memorial Day weekend, not all facilities will be open and hiking conditions could be dicey.
Two campgrounds on the east side of the park will have a delayed opening due to snow conditions. The Many Glacier Campground and Two Medicine Campground are anticipated to open Friday, May 30, rather than this week. Snow levels on the east side of the park are generally more than normal, and cooler temperatures have slowed the spring melting process. There is still much snow and ice on many lakes, including Two Medicine Lake, located inside the park boundary.
Hiking and access opportunities are limited across the park due to snow conditions. Park officials say you should be prepared to encounter snow, fast-moving water, and changing weather conditions. With some increased snow load, some areas in the park are prone to avalanches and slides, so caution should be used as traveling and recreating in these areas. It is important to know the terrain you are about to hike or climb, and carry the appropriate equipment.
The St. Mary Campground and Bowman Lake Campground is expected to transition to non-primitive status by today, as scheduled. Apgar and Sprague Creek Campgrounds are open. Reservation information and specific information about each campground, including a map of the sites, operating dates, available services, current and historic fill times, and more are available by visiting http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/camping.htm.
Beginning today hikers and bikers can travel as far as The Loop, and there will be no restrictions for hikers and bikers on the west side from Saturday through Monday, May 24-26. There is no hiker-biker access on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road due to road rehabilitation work. For more information about hiker-biker access please visit this site or contact the park at 888-7800 for updated information.
Visitors can drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance to Avalanche, and for about one mile from the St. Mary Entrance to the foot of St. Mary Lake on the east side. The Camas Road, Many Glacier Road, Chief Mountain Road, and Two Medicine Road are currently open to vehicle travel. The Inside North Fork Road is partially open. From the Polebridge Ranger Station, visitors can drive northeast to Bowman Lake or south to Logging Creek. All other areas of the Inside North Fork Road remain closed at this time. The Cut Bank Road is currently closed at the park boundary. For updated road status within the park, you can turn to this page.
Snow plowing activities on the Going-to-the-Sun Road continue with the west-side road crew working near Big Bend, about three miles from Logan Pass. The east-side crew is working their way past Jackson Glacier Overlook.
The Apgar Visitor Center is open and the St. Mary Visitor Center is scheduled to open Saturday. The Apgar Visitor Center has been relocated to the facility formerly known as the Apgar Transit Center, approximately one mile north of the park's west entrance.
Several park concessioners and privately-owned facilities will begin to offer visitor amenities this weekend. Glacier National Park Lodges, the park's newest concessioner, will begin operations of Lake McDonald Lodge and Camp Store May 24. Lake McDonald Lodge, Granite Park Chalet, and Sperry Chalet celebrate their centennial anniversaries this year.
Bears are currently active within the park and visitors are reminded to travel in groups and make loud noises when recreating to avoid surprise encounters. For your safety, do not approach or attempt to feed any wildlife in the park.
Backcountry permits are required for any backcountry overnight visit. Permits are available from the Apgar Backcountry Permit Office and the St. Mary Visitor Center, and from most of the ranger stations throughout the summer.
Glacier National Park's shuttle system is scheduled to operate July 1 through September 7. The system provides two-way shuttle service along Going-to-the-Sun Road between the Apgar Visitor Center and St. Mary Visitor Center. More information about the park shuttle system is available at this page.
The park's summer entrance fee is $25 per vehicle and is valid for seven days. The per-person entrance fee for a visitor traveling on foot, bicycle or motorcycle is $12 and is valid for seven days. An annual Glacier National Park pass for unlimited access to the park for one year from first time of use is available for $35. Other passes through the America the Beautiful- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program are also available.
United States citizens 62 years of age and older may purchase a lifetime pass for $10, and citizens with a permanent disability may obtain a free lifetime pass. An annual pass available for $80 allows free entrance to federally operated recreation sites across the county, including many National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management sites. A free annual pass to active duty military members and their dependents is also available. For more information or to purchase a pass, please contact the park at 406-888-7800, visit the park headquarters building in West Glacier, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or a staffed entrance station.