Short version: For the 2023 season, all Glacier Park entrances will require a “vehicle reservation” between 6:00am and 3:00pm; reservations are good for three days, except at Polebridge, which remains a one-day ticket.
Here’s the text of the official press release with all the gory details . . .
WEST GLACIER, Mont. [December 16, 2022] – Visitors to Glacier National Park in 2023 can expect to use a vehicle reservation system to access Going-to-the-Sun Road via the West Entrance and the North Fork area of the park from May 26 through September 10, 2023, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Vehicle reservations will also be required for Two Medicine and Many Glacier valleys and the St. Mary Entrance to Going-to-the-Sun Road on the east side of the park from July 1 through September 10, 2023, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This will be the third year of the pilot reservation system in the park; designed to manage high traffic volumes within the park to protect natural and cultural resources while delivering quality visitor experiences.
The decision to add Many Glacier and Two Medicine valleys to the reservation system was based on review of data collected during the two previous years. Patterns show an increased need to restrict traffic when parking capacity was surpassed. Park officials held meetings with businesses and stakeholders this fall to share the data and solicit input. Based on feedback, park officials chose to limit the reservation time period at Two Medicine, Many Glacier, and the St. Mary Entrance to Going-to-the-Sun Road to July 1 through September 10 and to limit the hours of the reservation period to 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors to the east side of the park without a reservation will still be able to visit Two Medicine and Many Glacier before 6 a.m. and after 3 p.m. and will be able to visit the St. Mary visitor center for access to free shuttles to Going-to-the-Sun Road.
As in 2021 and 2022, landowners inside the park are not required to have a vehicle reservation to access their properties. Pursuant to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, vehicle reservations are not required for tribal members throughout the park.
Vehicle reservations will be available on Recreation.gov. Each of the specified areas of the park will require a separate reservation. Like last year, visitors will need to set up an account on Recreation.gov to obtain reservations. The only cost associated with booking a reservation is a $2 Recreation.gov processing fee.
New for the 2023 season, vehicle reservations will be available through two types of booking windows. A portion of reservations will be available approximately four months or 120-days in advance, using a block-release system. The first block of advanced reservations will be available through Recreation.gov at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on February 1, 2023. This round of reservations will be available to enter Going-to-the-Sun Road or the North Fork for May 26 through June 30. The next release will occur on March 1, 2023, for July 1 through July 31, including the reservation areas for Going-to-the-Sun Road, North Fork, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier. On April 1, 2023, reservations will be available for all areas for August 1 through August 31. On May 1, 2023, reservations will be available for all areas for September 1 through September 10. Like last year, a portion of reservations for all areas of the park will be available on a rolling basis at 8 a.m. 24-hours in advance.
One reservation per vehicle will again be required to enter Going-to-the-Sun Road at the West Entrance, and the Camas Entrance from May 26 through September 10, 2023. Reservations are good for three days. Like last year, Apgar Village and the Apgar visitor center are located inside the West Entrance and require a vehicle reservation to access. New in 2023, reservations will only be required until 3 p.m. In 2022, reservations were required until 4 p.m.
As in 2022, one reservation per vehicle will be required at the Polebridge Ranger Station to visit the North Fork area of the park in 2023. Reservations are good for one day. New in 2023, visitors can enter before 6 a.m. or after 3 p.m. without a reservation. In 2022, reservations were required until 6 p.m.
New in 2023, one reservation per vehicle per valley will be required to access Two Medicine and Many Glacier valleys on the east side of the park from July 1 through September 10 from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are good for one day.
Also new in 2023, reservations will not be required at the St. Mary Entrance until July 1. Beginning July 1 through September 10, 2023, a vehicle reservation will be required to access Going-to-the-Sun Road from the St. Mary Entrance. Like last year, vehicle reservations will be checked at the Rising Sun check point, six miles inside the St. Mary Entrance, and visitors will have access to the St. Mary visitor center and park shuttle outside of the vehicle reservation area.
In addition to a vehicle reservation, each vehicle entering the park is required to have an entrance pass for any entry point into the park. These passes could include any one of the following: a $35 vehicle pass, good for seven days; a valid Interagency Annual/Lifetime Pass; or a Glacier National Park Annual Pass.
Visitors with lodging, camping, transportation, or commercial activity reservations within Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor, Many Glacier, or Two Medicine can use their reservation for entry in lieu of a $2 reservation to gain access to the portion of the park for which they have a reservation.
Prior to July 1, when the reservation requirements begin, the park anticipates congestion at Two Medicine and Many Glacier valleys. As in past years, entry will be temporarily restricted if these areas reach capacity. Visitors are encouraged to plan their visit outside of peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Visitors with service reservations (e.g., boat tours, lodging, horseback ride, guided hikes) in these valleys will be permitted entry during temporary restrictions.
Visitors should anticipate up to a 30-minute wait due to construction on Going-to-the-Sun Road along Lake McDonald starting in June. Additional details about construction will be posted on the park website as they become available. Entry to Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance before the 6 a.m. reservation period will not be possible due to construction activities. To avoid congestion-related delays, visitors are encouraged to use the St. Mary Entrance to access Going-to-the-Sun Road, including popular attractions such as Logan Pass and Avalanche.
Through the pilot process, the park is engaged in continued learning about the various strategies used. The park has also engaged with stakeholders and local communities to inform the design of the pilot each year. This information will help inform long-range visitor use management planning, which the park is expecting to begin in 2023. Through the long-range planning process, there will be opportunities for public input once the planning process is initiated.
Additional details about the vehicle reservation system are still in development. The park website will provide updates as more information becomes available.