May was the busiest on record in Glacier National Park, according to the latest government statistics.
Off to another record-breaking pace, visitation at Glacier National Park spiked 32 percent last month and is up 18 percent for 2016.
The National Park Service reported 178,218 people visited the Crown Jewel of the Continent in May, compared to 134,741 a year ago. The previous record for the month of May was 137,220 in 2007.
The flood of people began after plow crews cleared parts of Going-to-the-Sun Road for summer, increasing hiker and biker access and allowing vehicles to cruise more of the iconic road.
On the west side, the Sun Road is open for vehicle traffic to Avalanche Creek, approximately 16 miles from the West Entrance. On the east side, the road is open to Jackson Glacier Overlook, approximately 13 miles past the St. Mary Entrance.
On the eve of the summer influx of people, overall visitation is already up 18 percent in 2016. An estimated 268,596 people have visited Glacier in the first five months of the year, which is on pace to shatter last year’s annual record of 2.36 million.
The next four months are poised to be the busiest in Glacier’s history, fueled by favorable fuel prices and the added attraction of the National Park Service centennial.
Last year, from June through September, over 2 million people visited Glacier. A National Park Service report showed 4.9 million visitors to national parks in Montana in 2015 spent $478.3 million in the state. That spending supported 8,338 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $664.5 million. It also represents a 10.6 percent increase in spending and an 8.2 percent rise in visitation over 2014.
Glacier Park has broken annual visitation records the last two years.
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