KALISPELL — Park officials in Montana have unveiled a temporary ticket entry system for the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor this summer to manage congestion and avoid potential closures because of the coronavirus pandemic and road construction.
Glacier National Park officials announced Wednesday that visitors will need a ticketed reservation May 28 through Sept. 6 to enter the park's 50-mile alpine road from the entrances at West Glacier and St. Mary between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Visitors who arrive in private vehicles or on motorcycles must have day-use entry reservation tickets plus park passes. The tickets are scheduled to be available online on April 29 and require a nonrefundable $2 processing fee.
The reservations are valid for seven consecutive days and must be validated on the first day a reservation is scheduled to begin.
Visitors with proof of service reservations inside the park — for lodging, camping, boat rides, bus tours, guided hikes or horseback rides — will be exempt from the added reservation requirement.
Visitors entering the park on foot or bicycle do not need reservations, nor do those coming through the Many Glacier, Two Medicine, Cut Bank, Chief Mountain Highway and North Fork entrances.
"We have the making of a perfect storm this season," Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said. "Not only do we have ongoing COVID-19 mitigations and reduced staffing, but we are also facing construction delays inside and around the park."
The park made the announcement several weeks after holding a community discussion on what was then a proposed ticketing system, which was met with blanket support. Some stakeholders have expressed their appreciation for the switch to the ticket system.
"Requiring ticketed entry for Going-to-the-Sun Road this summer is a good step towards creating the best visitor experience possible. We hope this management tool will mitigate the overcrowding we witnessed last summer," Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Dylan Boyle said.
Tribal members and people who own property within the park's boundaries are exempt from purchasing a ticket.