Glacier National Park’s Vehicle Reservation System: Your 10 Most-Asked Questions
*Updated April 8, 2022*
In 2021, Glacier National Park unveiled a ticketed entry systeym for the 2021 season. For 2022, the program is continuing, with visitors to busy areas of the park (including the North Fork and the Going-to-the-Sun Road) needing a vehicle reservation. And, as you can imagine, we’ve had a flurry of questions around what this means, including how to get a vehicle reservation, where you need one and more.
To help make planning your trip to Kalispell, northwest Montana and Glacier National Park as easy as possible, we’ve breaking down the most-asked questions about the vehicle reservation system. Insider tip: Glacier National Park regularly updates their FAQ page with information.
- When are vehicle reservations available?
Vehicle reservations are available starting March 2, 2022, and can be obtained 120 days ahead of your visit on a rolling window. Additionally, starting on May 26, more vehicle reservations can be snagged one day before the effective date. Vehicle reservations should be made at recreation.gov. While they are technically free, there is a $2 processing fee. Important note: you need to make your reservation online (or by calling 877-444-6777.
- Do I need an vehicle reservation and a park pass?
Yes. You will need to secure a vehicle reservation and purchase a pass to get into Glacier National Park. Park passes can be purchased at the gate or at recreation.gov.
- Is a vehicle reservation needed for every Glacier National Park entrance?
Nope. Entry tickets are only needed to access the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor at the West Glacier, Camas Road and St. Mary entrances, as well as the North Fork (Polebridge). No entry tickets are needed at Many Glacier, Two Medicine or Cut Bank. Find more info here.
- So, if vehicle reservations are only needed along the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor and the North Fork, do I need one to visit Apgar?
Yes. Even if you’re only wanting to go into Apgar and take in the view from the southern end of Lake McDonald, you will need a vehicle reservation as that’s technically part of the corridor.
- Do I need a vehicle reservation year-round?
No. Vehicle reservations are only needed from May 27 - September 11, 2022. Reservations are needed in the North Fork (Polebridge) from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m., and along the Going-to-the-Sun Road from 6 a.m. - 4 p.m. Outside of those dates and hours, no vehicle reservation is needed.
In other news, due to a utility project starting on June 1, construction will close the Going-to-the-Sun Road from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., from the south end of Lake McDonald near Apgar Campground to Sprague Creek Campground.
- With vehicle reservations starting on May 27, does that mean the Going-to-the-Sun Road is going to be open in its entirety earlier?
While parts of the Going-to-the-Sun Road will be accessible from both St. Mary and West Glacier by car, the road will still not be open in its entirety to vehicular traffic, as much of the plowing takes place in May and well into June. The road will still open around late June for vehicle access, weather dependent. Prior to cars being able to access the road, it is open to hikers and bikers. If you haven’t biked the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the spring, be sure to add it to your bucket list.
- I already have a reservation inside the park. What if I don’t get a vehicle reservation for something I already have booked?
If you already have something booked inside the park - like a campground reservation, lodging reservation, guided activity, etc. - you do not need a vehicle reservation. To enter the park at West Glacier, Camas Road or St. Mary, you’ll just need to show proof of service registration (and your ID) as that will serve as your reservation.
- Do motorcycles, hikers and bikers need a reservation?
Yes, motorcycles need to acquire a reservation for entry. Bikers (as in cyclists) and visitors on foot do not need a reservation to enter at the West Glacier, Camas Road or St. Mary entrances. They will still need to pay the park entrance fee.
- Does the vehicle reservation have to be used on the first day it’s reserved?
Yes and no. Vehicle reservations for the North Fork are only available for one day, while reservations for the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor are available for three days, which means you can come and go along the corridor as you please during that window (in conjunction with your park pass). And even if you have a reservation to enter the park, you should still be prepared for traffic delays and crowded parking lots, especially at the West Glacier entrance and at Logan Pass.
- Why did Glacier National Park implement this system?
During the past few years, more visitors have come to enjoy, experience and explore Glacier National Park and the Going-to-the-Sun Road has seen some significant congestion. Through the vehicle reservation system, the goal is to help improve the flow of traffic along the road, reduce crowding and congestion and help visitors have the most enjoyable time possible.
If you have more questions, feel free to call us at 406-758-2811. For the most current information about the vehicle reservation system, visit Glacier National Park’s website. Or, for ideas about things to do outside of the park, check out this page.