Glacier visitation tops 1 million in July

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Vehicles fill the Logan Pass parking lot on July 29, 2015, in Glacier National Park. (Brenda Ahearn file photos/Daily Inter Lake)

For the first time ever in a single month, more than 1 million people visited Glacier National Park during July.

The park recorded 1,009,665 visitors, up approximately 23 percent over last year’s July tally of 818,481 visitors.

In mid-July, Glacier Park held an emergency congestion management workshop to begin developing new management strategies for areas outside the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor, including the North Fork, Two Medicine and Many Glacier areas. Preliminary solutions include reconfiguring some parking areas and providing time-limited parking adjacent to restrooms and camp stores, according to park officials.

This summer has seen temporary traffic restrictions at all of those locations, as the number of cars looking to enter those areas has far exceeded physical capacity.

In the coming week the park will impose a one-hour time limit for approximately 60 parking spaces up at Logan Pass. The intent of the time limit is to provide an opportunity for people hoping to make a quick stop, use the restroom, take a few pictures and go for a short walk to be able to do so. The parking lot has routinely filled before 9 a.m. this summer, and continues to be full well into the late afternoon.

“We ask that visitors bring their patience, prepare for significant parking delays and expect more people on the trails this summer,” Superintendent Jeff Mow said in a press release. “Glacier Country has a tremendous amount to offer its tourists. While people wait for times that are less crowded to visit the park, our surrounding public lands and local businesses can offer exceptional opportunities for people coming to see this spectacular region.”

In addition to the increase in visitors, Glacier also saw a comparable increase in the number of emergency medical calls and total calls for ranger service. Year to date, the park has seen a 29 percent increase in emergency medical calls over last year.

July was exceptionally hot and dry and with it came many requests for help. In the last 15 days of July, the park responded to 15 calls for heat exhaustion on the Loop Trail alone.

“Rangers have been stretched pretty thin responding to the increased number of calls this summer,” Mow said. “We deeply appreciate everyone who takes the time to really read up on trail conditions, wildlife safety, and what to bring with you on your trip. Every person who comes to the park well-prepared really helps us out as we strive to meet this increased demand.”

Glacier Park is on track for another record year. Year to date, 1,894,566 people have visited the park, an 18.7 percent increase over last year’s visitation of 1,596,027 at the same point in the year.

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