“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
― John Muir
Where and When to Expect Crowds
1. In the SummertimeMay through September is the busiest time of the year in Glacier National Park. Within that, July and August are the busiest of all. Weekends can be busier than weekdays but not always and not by much. The parking lots at popular destinations, like Logan Pass and Avalanche, begin filling around 8:00AM. Other areas of the park start becoming congested later in the morning.
2. On the RoadsYou are likely to encounter congestion and long wait times around parking lots, visitor centers, and entrance stations. At times of extreme congestion, access to whole areas of the park may be temporarily restricted to allow for emergency vehicles. In the summer of 2018 access to Many Glacier was restricted 26 times and access to Kintla Lake was restricted 52 times and access to Bowman Lake was restricted 68 times.
3. On the TrailsIn 2017 the Hidden Lake Trail averaged 1,604 hikers per day. The top 10 most popular hikes in the park all average hundreds of hikers per day. However, with over 700 miles of trails many visitors find that by taking a less popular trail they can get away from the crowds after a few miles.
4. On the Free ShuttlesDepending on where and when you board one of Glacier's free shuttle buses you may have to wait an hour or more for an available seat. Shuttles run approximately every 15 minutes but by the time the shuttle arrives at the Loop, for example, it may be only able to board one or two additional passengers.
Three Tips for Dealing with Glacier's Crowds
1. Adjust Your ExpectationsStrangers are just friends you haven't met yet. Many visitors report sparking new friendships with their fellow travelers on the trail. Don't expect your trip to be all solitude and be considerate to everyone else looking for peace. Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Yield to other users on the trail. Avoid loud voices and music near other people. Check the park webcams to see current congestion levels.
2. Have a Backup Plan, or TwoCongestion and crowds close whole areas of the park on a daily basis during the summer (to allow for emergency traffic). Floods, snow, and wildfires also close parts of Glacier every year. Being flexible will allow you to get the most out of your visit. If parking lots are full, don't add to the congestion, just move on to your back up plan or try again later. Visit Glacier's trip planning page to start developing a backup plan.
3. Consider one of Glacier's NeighborsThinking of your visit as a trip to Glacier country rather than just to the National Park will open up a whole world of new opportunities. East into Glacier County, West into the Flathead Valley, and even North into Canada, Glacier National Park is surrounded by spectacular scenery and recreation opportunities. We've compiled a list of nearby attractions here.
Last updated: November 15, 2019