Visitation to Glacier National Park set another high mark as nearly 200,000 people visited in May.
According to National Park Service figures, 195,116 visitors entered the park last month, up nearly 10 percent from May 2017. For the year, 269,347 people had visited the park, up two percent from 2017.
The vast majority of visitors, 105,309 in May, entered the park at the West Entrance. St. Mary on the park’s east side had the second-most with 28,312 visitors, up 10.3 percent from a year ago.
Despite widespread wild fires in 2017, Glacier set a park record last year with 3.3 million visitors, surpassing 2016’s 2.9 million. Park attendance has increased every year since 2012 when it jumped from 1.8 million in 2011 to 2.1 million.
It seems probable that the park could set another annual record, or at least approach it, with the tourist-heavy summer season on the horizon.
In 2017, between the beginning of June and the end of September, 2.9 million visitors entered the park. July 2017 saw more than 1 million people enter the park.
Many are anxiously waiting on the complete opening of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Snow removal crews met near the Logan Pass Visitor Center on June 7.
As of Wednesday, 29 miles of the road were open to vehicle travel. Visitors are able to drive 15.5 miles from the west entrance to Avalanche and 13.5 miles from the east entrance to Jackson Glacier Overlook.
The road fully opened in 2017 on June 28. In 2016, it opened June 16. The earliest opening was May 16 in 1987.
Reporter Scott Shindledecker can be reached at (406) 758-4441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.