Glacier Park Temporarily Suspends Issuing New Backcountry Permits

Agency wants to reduce the number of people overnighting in the backcountry amid high fire danger

By Beacon Staff
A tender sprays water on vegetation near the Lake McDonald Lodge as the Sprague Fire burns in Glacier National Park on Sept. 7, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The National Park Service has temporarily stopped issuing new overnight backcountry permits in Glacier National Park due to fire weather conditions.

Isolated dry thunderstorms are possible Friday and Saturday, followed by gusty winds Saturday afternoon into Sunday associated with a cold front passage, NPS officials said.

The agency wants to reduce the number of people overnighting in the backcountry, according to Glacier Park spokesperson Lauren Alley. There are no backcountry evacuations at this time, and there is no immediate threat at this time to backcountry users, according to the NPS.

In the event of a new fire start or rapid growth of existing fires, the park has significantly fewer resources available, due to ongoing fire operations, to assist a large number of people out of the backcountry, Alley said.

Alley said the duration that no new overnight backcountry permits will be issued is unknown due to ongoing dry conditions, extremely high fire behavior, and the extended fire season outlook.

The park is currently fighting three large fires and is preparing for the potential of a fourth, the Kenow Fire coming down from Canada near Goat Haunt.

Elder Creek Fire lies on the Montana and British Columbia border, and started on the Canadian side on September 2nd. It is currently 2,055 acres, with 260 acres on the US side. Firefighters have begun implementing structure protection around the Kishenehn Patrol Cabin and surrounding areas.

The Kenow Fire burning in Canada could potentially impact Waterton Lakes National Park and northern portions of Glacier National Park.  As a precaution, firefighters have started on some structure protection in the Goat Haunt area of Glacier National Park.

Due to these fires, trail and road closures change frequently. Check the park’s website to monitor trail and road closure status. 

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