National parks have become more popular than ever. During the pandemic, people escaped to the great outdoors for adventure, relaxation and restoration—and it’s a trend that’s not going away any time soon. To enhance the visitor experience, Glacier National Park has announced it will once again implement its vehicle reservation pilot program for the 2023 peak season, May 26 through September 10, 2023 with additional entrances added. Here’s what you need to know:
Traditionally, to get into Glacier National Park at any time, every vehicle is required to have a park pass. These passes could include any one of the following: a $35 vehicle pass, good for seven days; a valid Interagency Annual/Lifetime Pass; or a Glacier National Park Annual Pass (including Military, Access, Senior, and Every Kid Outdoors passes). In addition, a vehicle reservation is required to enter four areas of the park: the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the North Fork, Two Medicine Valley, and Many Glacier Valley. Each location has unique details and requires a separate reservation. Note: this reservation system does not apply to road based motorcoach tours. Motorcoaches will still have to pay an entrance fee into the park where passengers can then access Going-to-the-Sun Road via red bus or Sun Tours.
Going-to-the-Sun Road Vehicle Reservation
Every vehicle entering the park at West Glacier or the Camas entrance from May 26 through September 10, 2023, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., will need to have a vehicle reservation for the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor. The vehicle reservation is good for three consecutive days.
Reservations will not be required at the St. Mary Entrance, on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road until July 1. July 1 through September 10, 2023, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., a reservation will be required to access the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the St. Mary Entrance. Vehicle reservations will be checked at the Rising Sun check point, 6 miles inside the St. Mary Entrance, and visitors will have access to the St. Mary Visitor Center and park shuttle outside of the vehicle reservation area.
North Fork Vehicle Reservation
Every vehicle entering the park in the North Fork area through the Polebridge entrance station from May 26 to September 10, 2023, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., will need a vehicle reservation. The North Fork vehicle reservation is good for one day and is a separate reservation from the GTSR reservation. It’s important to note that this area of Glacier National Park is remote, with a rough, rutted, windy road and there are limited to no services available beyond Polebridge just before the North Fork entrance station.
Two Medicine Valley and Many Glacier Valley Vehicle Reservation
Every vehicle entering the Two Medicine Valley and the Many Glacier Valley from July 1 through September 10, 2023, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., will need a vehicle reservation for each entrance. The Two Medicine vehicle reservation is good for one day. The Many Glacier vehicle reservation is good for one day and both are separate from the Going-to-the-Sun Road reservation.
Purchasing Vehicle Reservations
New for the 2023 season, vehicle reservations will be available through two types of booking windows. A portion of reservations will be available approximately four months, or 120-days, in advance, using a block-release system. The next release will occur on March 1, 2023, for July 1 through July 31, including the reservation areas for the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the North Fork, Two Medicine and Many Glacier. On April 1, 2023, reservations will be available for all areas for August 1 through August 31. On May 1, 2023, reservations will be available for all areas for September 1 through September 10. Like last year, a portion of reservations for all areas of the park will be available on a rolling basis at 8 a.m. 24-hours in advance.
All vehicle reservations must be purchased online at recreation.gov in advance or by contacting the call center at 877.444.6777 (toll-free), 606.515.6777 (international) or 877.833.6777 (TDD). Although the park does not charge for reservations, recreation.gov charges a $2 nonrefundable service fee.
You will only need one vehicle reservation no matter how many people are traveling in your vehicle. You cannot give or sell your vehicle reservation to someone else. The purchaser of the reservation must be in the vehicle entering the park. Print or save a digital copy (e.g., screenshot) of the vehicle reservation or valid service reservation. Cell service is unreliable (and in some areas unavailable) in the park.
What if I can’t get a vehicle reservation?
To access the North Fork corridor, you can enter before 6 a.m. or after 3 p.m. without a vehicle reservation.
You can enter the park’s east side entrances of Two Medicine, Many Glacier and St. Mary (this in the entrance to access Going-to-the-Sun Road) after 3 p.m. or before 6 a.m., or you can enter the park’s west side in West Glacier after 3 p.m. Fortunately, it stays light until after 10 p.m. in the summertime in Montana. Please note, visitors should anticipate up to a 30-minute wait due to construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road along Lake McDonald. Entry to the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance before the 6 a.m. reservation period will not be possible due to construction activities.
You can also go with a guide; if you book an activity beyond these entrances, that is your vehicle reservation into the park for that day. It’s always good to verify with your guide while booking that their service covers your vehicle reservation. Reserve a hoseback trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters, book a guided hike with Glacier Guides, take a Red Bus Tour or Sun Tour or a historic boat tour on Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Two Medicine or Swiftcurrent Lakes. Additionally, a lodging, or camping reservation can be used in lieu of a vehicle reservation for that day. These exceptions do not apply to the North Fork corridor because that area does not offer lodging or guided activities, and camping is first come, first served. A wilderness camping permit will also be accepted as your vehicle reservation entry for the day.
Lastly, be aware that parking is limited, so go early in the day or later in the afternoon to avoid the most congested times of day. Vehicle reservations and service reservations do not guarantee parking spaces in popular areas. Expect possibility of congested and busy conditions throughout the park. And, of course, the beauty of the park extends beyond the park’s boundaries, and there are plenty of awe-inspiring places to discover and amazing things to do just outside the park. For inspiration, visit our Outside the Park page.
Visit our frequently asked question, or for more information on where to stay, eat and play in Western Montana, please visit our Tour Operator site and specifically our suggested itineraries. If you need further information, send us an email. We are always here to help.
DP & AS
March 9, 2022