Kalispell’s backyard national park, Glacier National Park, is one of the state’s must-visit destinations. With 1 million acres of glacial-carved terrain, the park is open year-round and is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the United States. 

From downtown Kalispell, Glacier National Park is a scenic 32 miles from the park’s west entrance in West Glacier, Montana. With easy access and our convenient location, many visitors opt to stay in our mountain town and explore the park at their own pace, all while enjoying what Kalispell has to offer, from tasty restaurants to guided activities and a thriving downtown. 

During the past two years, the National Park Service has been testing a pilot program for a vehicle reservation system to help manage high-traffic areas to the park. For 2023, there are some changes, additions and revisions to the vehicle reservation system. 

As it can get confusing – and since we know that summer trip planning is currently underway – here is everything you need to know for a summer 2023 visit to Glacier National Park. 

1. The Going-to-the-Sun Road 

Any visitors to the park in 2023 can expect to use the vehicle reservation system to cruise the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West entrance and the Camas entrance from May 26 – September 10, 2023. A reservation is required from 6 a.m. – 3 p.m., and Going-to-the-Sun Road reservations are valid for three days.  

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is also accessible from the east side (as it’s often called) via the St. Mary entrance. A vehicle reservation is necessary starting at Rising Sun (which is 6 miles inside the St. Mary entrance) from July 1 – September 10, 2023 and between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. 

To put it simply: if you are coming before July 1 and do not get a vehicle reservation for the Going-to-the-Sun Road, hit the road and cruise U.S. Highway 2 along the southern entrance of the park. From there, you can go up to St. Mary and access the Going-to-the-Sun Road without a vehicle reservation. 

2. The North Fork 

Access to Glacier National Park’s North Fork (which is home to Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake) will require a vehicle reservation from May 26 – September 10, 2023 and from 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. Vehicle reservations for the North Fork are valid for one day.

3. Two Medicine & Many Glacier 

New for 2023, vehicle reservations will be needed from July 1 – September 10 – between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. – at both Many Glacier and Two Medicine (on the east side of the park). If you do not acquire a reservation, you can still head into Two Medicine and St. Mary before 6 a.m. or after 3 p.m. For these areas of the park, it is a one-day pass. 

Other Things to Know 

-A park pass is always needed, regardless of when a vehicle reservation is required. 

-Visitors can always access the St. Mary Visitor Center (no vehicle reservation is needed). Additionally, visitors can utilize the free shuttles along the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the St. Mary Visitor Center. 

-Individual reservations are needed for each area in the park, including the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Many Glacier, North Fork and Two Medicine.

-Reservations are available through two booking windows. The first will begin approximately 120 days in advance, with the first ticket block going on sale on February 21, 2023. The second booking window will have reservations available on a rolling basis 24 hours in advance. (For example, if you plan to visit on July 2, a block of reservations will be available at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1.) 

-Tickets can be purchased on Recreation.gov. Get the full rundown directly from NPS here

-If you have activities, lodging or tours with confirmed bookings within a specific area of the park, no additional vehicle reservation is needed. However, if you have a tour booked along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and want to visit Many Glacier, you will still need a reservation for Many Glacier during the date you’d like to visit.  

-Construction will be taking place along the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Lake McDonald; be prepared to wait for up to 30 minutes. 

-Vehicle reservations are not needed for the Cut Bank area of the park. 

Regardless of these new changes for 2023, we’re here to help make your visit to Kalispell, northwest Montana and Glacier National Park the best possible. For specific questions, call us at 406-758-2811. 

Don’t Have a Vehicle Reservation for Glacier National Park? Here are 7 Ways to Play in the Park Without One.