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Gridlock with a View

As parking problems persist in Glacier Park, officials weigh restrictions

It’s an experience almost any visitor to Glacier National Park knows: aimlessly driving in circles at Logan Pass in search of a parking spot.

Although Going-to-the-Sun Road is not yet open to Logan pass, just last Tuesday, the parking lots at Bowman Lake, Kintla and Avalanche were all full by mid-afternoon.

As the parking problems persist, Glacier National Park officials are considering restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed at certain areas or instituting a one-in, one-out policy at some of the most popular spots in the park. Two years ago, when the east half of Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed because of a wildfire, park officials used a similar system at Logan Pass and found that it was effective. Superintendent Jeff Mow has said in the past that many visitors have waited a lifetime to see Glacier Park and are fine with waiting a few more minutes to get to the Continental Divide.

Spokesperson Lauren Alley said the park hasn’t had to do that yet this year, but it’s an option. For now, park officials are trying to inform visitors when they arrive about parking issues and are using social media to announce closures.

“We’re hoping that by letting people know what’s going on, they can plan ahead and visit a different part of the park,” Alley said.

Park officials also encourage visitors to use the free shuttles between Apgar and St. Mary that run from July 1 to Sept. 4. Shuttles run every 15 to 30 minutes on the west side and every 30 to 40 minutes on the east side. For details, visit nps.gov.glac/planyourvisit/shuttles.htm.

Glacier’s Gridlock, By the Numbers

When Going-to-the-Sun Road opens, Logan Pass quickly becomes one of the most congested areas in the park. A recent study by the University of Montana shows how bad it can get.

232 Parking spots at Logan Pass

6,000 People who come to the Logan Pass parking lot daily during the summer

13 percent People who arrive at Logan Pass via free shuttles

1,900 Vehicles that come through the Logan Pass parking lot daily

136 minutes Average time a vehicle is parked at Logan Pass

50+ Cars that are parked at Logan Pass for more than six hours daily

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Most likely time rangers will close Logan Pass parking lot due to gridlock

37 percent People who give up looking for a parking spot between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

49 percent People who give up looking for a parking spot just between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.

57 percent People who give up looking for a parking spot after seven minutes

11.6 minutes Time it takes the people who don’t give up looking to find a parking spot.

 

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