Glacier’s 2018 visitation second busiest

Print Article

A long line of cars crawl up the Going-to-the-Sun Road near the Logan Pass Visitor Center parking lot on Wednesday. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)

In 2018 Glacier National Park notched its second busiest year of visitation since the park’s founding in 1910.

That’s according to park estimates that also suggest December 2018 was Glacier’s busiest December ever.

The estimates calculated for calendar 2018 tallied about 2.96 million visitors, down from a record of about 3.3 million visitors in 2017 but slightly higher than 2.95 million visitors in 2016.

Lauren Alley, a spokeswoman for Glacier National Park, noted that both 2017 and 2018 were years that included wildfire-related impacts on visitors and the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Alley said December’s high numbers might reflect the month’s comparatively mild weather, which even provided some opportunities for hiking on bare ground in addition to the options of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

She said Glacier’s visitation continues to increase during non-peak periods.

“In general, we’ve seen our shoulder and off-season numbers grow,” Alley said.

She acknowledged those increases likely reflect a growing awareness that Glacier can be very crowded during peak months. But she said the off-peak season growth in visitation probably also demonstrates that more people grasp that the park can be a good place to visit during any season.

“It just depends on how many layers of clothing you’re willing to wear,” Alley said.

In 2018, concerns about the Howe Ridge Fire led to the closure on Aug. 12 of the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road from Logan Pass to Apgar. The road reopened Sept. 17.

The park’s visitation numbers rely on traffic counters of different types at seven separate entrances and on estimates elsewhere. The traffic counters track vehicle traffic and visitor estimates are calculated with a multiplier of 2.9 persons per vehicle.

Tallies of overnight stays in 2018 showed drops in stays in lodging, tents, RVs and backcountry sites when compared to 2017. Tent overnight stays declined by about 13 percent and backcountry overnight stays dropped by about 4.9 percent.

Overnight stays in lodging dropped only 1.9 percent. There was more group camping in 2018 than 2017, tallies show.

The West Glacier entrance remained the most visited entrance, with about 1.26 million visitors in 2018 and about 1.34 million visitors in 2017.

Visitation through the Polebridge entrance was up in December when compared to December 2017 but down by about 24.6 percent for the year.

The park has worked with the Glacier National Park Conservancy to develop innovative approaches to help mitigate the effects of crowding during the peak season.

For example, a Preventive Search and Rescue campaign aims to educate visitors about potential hazards in the backcountry so they don’t require rescue. And a “Wildlife Jammers” program uses volunteers to help protect visitors and wildlife and also move traffic along when vehicle congestion results from a wildlife sighting near a road.

Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at dadams@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4407.

Print Article

Read More Local News

New swinging bridge will hold sway for years to come

April 21, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Kootenai River churned and roiled Thursday beneath the feet of anyone striding across the swinging bridge spanning the river’s aquamarine waters. Swinging bridges sway, yaw and undulate. Given ...

Comments

Read More

County makes changes to handle septic-permit overload

April 21, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Flathead City-County Health Department has made changes to its staffing and scheduling in an effort to address recent concerns regarding an upswing in local septic permit applications that have l...

Comments

Read More

Alzheimer’s ‘Warning Signs’ session planned

April 21, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Alzheimer’s Association is offering “Know the 10 Warning Signs” at the Kalispell Senior Center at 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, April 25. Presented by Alzheimer’s Associ...

Comments

Read More

Holocaust, shooting survivor shares his story

April 21, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Judah Samet, who survived the Holocaust and the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh will share his story at two venues in the Flathead Valley next month. Samet will speak at th...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X