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Park visitors can expect traffic following end of ticketed entry, officials say

by TAYLOR INMAN
Daily Inter Lake | September 17, 2023 12:00 AM

Visitors hoping to take advantage of the end of Glacier National Park’s ticketed entry system for the year might need to adjust their expectations, officials warned last week.

Traffic heading into the park overflowed onto U.S. 2 on Sept. 11 — the day after the reservation system ended — with the line of vehicles eventually stretching to Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, about a mile and a half from West Glacier Village.

Park spokesperson Brandy Burke said officials are telling visitors to expect traffic as there is a bump in visitation following the end of this season’s ticketed entry.

“We are monitoring traffic and congestion. And if some areas of the park become too congested, it is possible that management will take action, which include closures,” Burke said.

Officials began implementing the ticketed entry system at the park’s busiest areas, starting with the Going-to-the-Sun Road during the 2021 season, in part to mitigate traffic congestion. In previous years, heavy traffic forced officials to temporarily close certain areas.

Though park officials view the system, still considered a pilot program, largely as a success, it has drawn criticism from U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke. The congressman from Whitefish has raised concerns that the system benefits federal contractors, who oversee the booking process, while restricting access to the public, particularly area residents.

In a post to Facebook regarding the current traffic conditions, Burke said visitors can expect long delays, especially along U.S. 2 at Glacier's west entrance between the hours of 7 a.m. and noon.

Check Glacier National Park’s status page for the latest update on park entrances: https://tinyurl.com/5d8bfzh6

Reporter Taylor Inman can be reached at 406-758-4433 or by emailing tinman@dailyinterlake.com.