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More visitors, more excitement at Glacier National Park


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GLACIER NATIONAL PARK — Visitor numbers at Glacier National Park for the month of May blew away any previous records with park staffers saying they are seeing a visible uptick in the excitement level at Glacier.

Glacier National Park saw record visitation for the month of May this year and while there could be several reasons, the overwhelming factor was likely the weather.

Sure, there was quite a bit of rain — it even caused some flooding on the Going to the Sun Road.

But record April and May temperatures also melted
the low country snow early, giving a lot of access to parts of Glacier that are usually fairly sloppy, early in the year.

“You know you don’t hike the lower elevations yet, this year people are out, they were able to access the lower elevations, they were able to access Avalanche Lake Access some of the other areas of the park,” park spokesman Tim Rains said. ” And so why not, why not get out there, before the heavy crowds of the summer come.”

Statistically speaking, Glacier saw a 32% jump in visitors for the month of May compared to last year — totaling over 178,000 visitors for the entire month — a new all time May record.

Rains explained that Glacier — and other parks — have really emphasized getting out and seeing the parks this year, and have pushed several new
programs as well.

“The [National] Park Service has been putting out a huge ad campaign for the centennial year — we are celebrating our centennial this year. But what’s
interesting to me is that it came during a flux season,” he said.

“It came during a shoulder season when typically we don’t seeā€¦the high numbers. Part of it may be in the fact that we do have our new hiker/ biker shuttle,” he added. “There have been a lot of local marketing to get that out there. And It’s interesting to me, visitors aren’t numbers, numbers aren’t visitors.”

What Rains means by that is that those that work in the park are getting the sense that people are falling in love with our national parks again.

“What it seems like to me is that people in the area and the community are taking a renewed interest in the park. It’s not just about the centennial, it’s about hey there’s this cool opportunity to get to the [Going to the] Sun Road,” Rains said.