Glacier Park Breaks May Visitation Record

National park hosted 195,1116 visitors in May, breaking the 2016 record of 183,925

By Madeleine Lamon
Glacier National Parks Employees install rails on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Courtesy National Park Service

People have already begun flocking to Glacier National Park, marking the start of the annual summer frenzy.

An unprecedented 195,116 people visited the park last month, the most ever recorded during May, according to National Park Service data.

Keeping with annual trends, this monthly rate of visitation likely will only increase during June, July, August and September — traditionally the four busiest months in Glacier — which reportedly attracted a combined total of more than 2.9 million people last year.

Visitation in May 2018, which reflects a 9.7 percent increase from the 177,787 visitors in May of last year, surpassed the previous all-time May attendance record of 183,925 in 2016.

The NPS started collecting monthly visitation totals in 1979.

This increase comes despite the seasonal closing of emblematic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which drives a lot of park visitation. Crews began clearing the road of snow in early spring and have already plowed about 25 miles of the thoroughfare.

While 2018’s year-to-date visitation total of 269,347 surpasses that of last year by more than 5,000, it still lags behind the 292,733 park visitors from January through May 2016.

The park set its highest-recorded monthly attendance last year when more than 1 million people visited the park in July, exceeding totals even at Yellowstone National Park.

Glacier, which has consistently hosted at least 2 million visitors since 2012, has broken annual attendance records for the past four years. In 2017, total visitation exceeded 3 million for the first time ever.

With the increasing number of summer visitors, the high concentration of people in the park has created issues with traffic and parking. Earlier this month, Superintendent Jeff Mow told the Beacon that the park advises summer visitors to “have a back-up plan” for their Montana trips.

Yellowstone also experienced its busiest May on record with nearly 447,000 visitors last month — a 6 percent increase from 2017. The park annually has seen upwards of 4 million people for the past three years.

Courtesy National Park Service

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