Glacier Park Easily Breaks Visitation Record in 2017

Last year was the busiest in the park’s 108-year history

By Justin Franz
Visitors snap selfies at the Oberlin Bend overlook in Glacier National Park. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

More than 3.3 million people visited Glacier National Park in 2017, making it the busiest year in the park’s 108-year history.

According to data released by the National Park Service, Glacier saw a 10 percent increase in visitation last year, from 3,005,448 in 2016 to 3,305,513 in 2017.

Visitation was up 3 percent in December 2017, with 13,268 recreational visits, the vast majority of which were to the west entrance of the park.

The record-breaking visitation in 2017 is more remarkable considering vast sections of the park were closed in August and September due to the Sprague Fire east of Lake McDonald. Lodges and shops shuttered early and the ever-popular Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed for weeks on the west side.  More than 389,000 people visited the park in September 2017, a 19.4 percent drop from the previous September when the park welcomed more than 482,000 people.

Visitation to the park has grown rapidly in recent years, with 2016 seeing a 24 percent increase over the pervious year. Officials thought the National Park Service centennial buoyed much of the visitation in 2016, but 2017 proved that Glacier’s popularity has not subsided.