A Guide to Glacier National Park’s Ticketed Entry System 2023

by Michael Gusto

A Guide to Glacier National Park’s Ticketed Entry System 2023

by Michael Gusto

Glacier National Park is an iconic American destination that draws millions of visitors each year to its breathtaking vistas, hiking trails, and scenic drives. However, with the increase in park visitation, the National Park Service implemented a ticketed entry reservation system in 2021 to manage the high traffic volume and avoid gridlock. As the park gears up for the 2023 season, it is important to be familiar with the new changes in the reservation system this year. Keep reading to find out the dates and entrances you need a ticketed entry reservation for, how to obtain a ticket, ways to see the park if you can’t get a ticket, and other great opportunities outside of the park.

When and Where Ticketed Entry Reservations are Required

If you plan to enter the park by vehicle or motorcycle from May 26 through September 10, 2023, between 6am-3pm, you will need an Entry Reservation Ticket in addition to your parks pass for each entrance: West Glacier (Going to the Sun Road Corridor), North Fork, St. Mary, Two Medicine, and the Many Glacier Entrance of the park. The Going to the Sun Road Corridor ticket reservation is valid for 3 days, while the others are valid for 1 day. Note: this reservation is not the same thing as your national parks pass that you can purchase at any time, you will need one of those to enter the park as well.

Vehicle reservations this year are available through two types of booking windows. A portion of reservations will be available120 days in advance, using a block-release system. The first block of advanced reservations will go on sale through Recreation.gov at 8 am Mountain Time on February 1, 2023. This round of reservations will be available to enter the Going-to-the-Sun Road for May 26 through June 30. The next release will be on March 1, 2023, for July 1 through July 31, followed by a release on April 1, 2023, for August 1 through August 31. On May 1, 2023, reservations will be available for all areas for September 1 through September 10.

If you missed any of these windows, don’t worry because the remaining vehicle reservations will be released on a rolling basis at 8 am, 24-hours in advance. For example, if you wish to visit the park on July 2nd, there will be vehicle reservations released the day before at 8am on July 1st. This means that if you were unable to secure a reservation during the block-release window, you still have a chance to obtain a ticket the day before you wish to visit the park. These tickets also sell out quickly, so it is important that you are prepared and know the steps to obtain a ticket ahead of time.

How to Obtain a Ticket:

Prepare ahead of time:

  • Understand the release dates and don’t forget to set a reminder for when you need to make your reservation.
  • Visit Recreation.gov and create your account in advance.
  • Navigate to the Glacier National Park Vehicle Reservations page and familiarize yourself with the system beforehand.
  • You will need a ticket for each entrance of the park you wish to enter.
  • We recommend having multiple people in your group try for a ticket, especially if you wish to visit different park entrances as these do sell out quickly.

Making your reservation:

  • Make sure you’re logged in before 8am.
  • Select the Entrance you wish to obtain a ticket for.
  • Select your desired date and click “Request Tickets” at exactly 8am. Each vehicle only needs one ticket.
  • Keep trying if you don’t get a ticket but tickets are still available. Don’t give up until they are all sold out.
  • Remember to check out within the time allowed once the ticket(s) are in your cart.
  • If you don’t get a ticket, plan to try again at 8am the day before you plan to visit, but also consider other options for visiting the park.

Ways to see the Park if you Can’t get a Ticket

If you are unable to secure a reservation, there are a few other ways to visit the park without a ticket. Some of our regular guests have even said that using the following workarounds provided a whole new experience in the park that they enjoyed equally as much.

  • Get through a park entrance before 6am or after 3pm. It stays light late here in Summer, so entering after 3pm will still allow you to see the breathtaking views of the Going to the Sun Road and other parts of the park.
  • Book a Red Bus Tour, Boat Tour, or other tour or equipment rental offered inside of the park. This will get you access to the park for that day. Always double check to make sure entry is included.
  • Book a tour with Whitefish Outfitters, Glacier Institute, or other outfitter outside of the park that has entrance rights to the park.

Remember to aways check the Glacier National Park website before you visit for updates, trail/road closures, and more information. The park service can make changes at any time, so visit the park website for the most up to date information.

Other Options Outside of the Park

While Glacier National Park is truly a site to see, there are so many great hikes and scenic tours to do outside of the park which makes having a back-up plan very easy. One of our favorites is visiting the Flathead National Forest which spans over 2.4 million acres, with numerous trails that cater to hikers of all skill levels. The forest is home to several distinct ecosystems, including alpine meadows, dense forests, and crystal-clear lakes. Some of the most popular hikes in the Flathead National Forest include the Jewel Basin Hiking Area, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, and the Whitefish Trail. These trails offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests. We often prefer some of these trails because they are typically less crowded and offer a similar hiking experience to Glacier National Park and don’t require a ticket. Plus, many of these trails are also dog friendly if you happen to be traveling with your dog.

As the 2023 Summer season approaches, it is important to be familiar with the reservation system and to plan accordingly if you wish to visit Glacier National Park during your stay. By understanding when and where tickets are required, how to get them, what to do if you can’t get them, and how to make alternate plans outside of the park, you are sure to be prepared for an epic visit this Summer!

Glacier National Park Ticketed Entry System: Make a Reservation

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