Glacier National Park’s New Ticketed Entry System: Your 10 Most-Asked Questions
Earlier this month, Glacier National Park announced that there will be a temporary ticketed entry system put in place for the 2021 summer season. And, as you can imagine, we’ve had a flurry of questions around what this means, including how to purchase a ticket, 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 new ticketed entry system. Insider tip: Glacier National Park regularly updates their FAQ page with information.
- When are tickets available?
Entry reservation tickets will be available up to 60 days in advance of your visit. Two-thirds of the tickets will be available in the 60-day window, while one-third will be released two days in advance. Tickets will begin to be available on April 29, 2021 at 8 a.m. Mountain Time, and they can be purchased at recreation.gov. Tickets are technically free, but there is a $2 processing fee. Important note: you cannot purchase entry tickets at the park gate, only online.
- Do I need an entry ticket and a park pass?
Yes. You will need to secure an entry ticket and purchase a pass to get into Glacier National Park. Park passes can be purchased at the gate or at recreation.gov.
- Is an entry ticket 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. No entry tickets are needed at Many Glacier, Polebridge, Two Medicine, Polebridge or Cut Bank.
- So, if tickets are only needed along the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor, 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 an entry ticket as that’s technically part of the corridor.
- Do I need an entry reservation ticket year-round?
No. The ticketed entry system is in place from May 28 - September 6, 2021 from 6 a.m. - 5 p.m. Outside of those dates and hours, no entry ticket is needed.
- With entry reservation tickets starting on May 28, 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 an entry reservation ticket 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 to purchase an entry ticket. 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 entry ticket.
- Do motorcycles, hikers and bikers need a reservation?
Yes, motorcycles need to acquire a ticket for entry. Bikers (as in cyclists) and visitors on foot do not need a ticket to enter at the West Glacier, Camas Road or St. Mary entrances. They will still need to pay the park entrance fee.
- Does the ticket have to be used on the first day it’s reserved?
No. You can use your entrance ticket anytime during your reservation window. Tickets are valid for seven days and allow you to come and go into the park as you please during that weeklong window (in conjunction with your park pass). And while you have a ticket 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 ticketed entry 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. There is also road construction planned on Highway 2 by the Montana Department of Transportation for this summer and it’s anticipated that the project will have impacts on the park and traffic flow.
If you have more questions, feel free to call us at 406-758-2811. For the most current information about the ticketed entry system, visit Glacier National Park’s website. Or, for ideas about things to do outside of the park, check out this page.