Photo by Paul Queneau.  ©Paul.Queneau/PQPHOTO.net

Busiest June on Record in Glacier Park

By DILLON TABISH for the Flathead Beacon

The popularity of Glacier National Park continues to soar.

The Crown Jewel of the Continent had its busiest June on record, attracting over 414,000 visitors last month, according to the latest National Park Service data.

Fueled by the opening of Going-to-the-Sun Road, visitation was up 24.1 percent over June 2014. It was the highest tally for June since monthly records were first kept starting in 1979. The previous record was an estimated 370,232, set in 2003.

This year is already on pace to break 2014’s annual record. Through the first six months, visitation is up nearly 26 percent over last year. July and August are historically the busiest months in Glacier. Last year saw an estimated 699,650 people in July and 675,119 in August, both records.

2015-07-10_0857

Many Glacier Hotel on July 3, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | FlatheadBeacon

A majority of visitors — an estimated 188,328 — entered the park last month through the West Entrance, a 34 percent increase over last June. Saint Mary’s had the second most visitors with 72,805 people, a 31 percent increase. Many Glacier drew an estimated 54,455 people, 17 percent more than last year.

Total overnight stays jumped nearly 31 percent last month compared to the previous year with an estimated 67,225 people camping or staying in a lodge or RV. Backcountry overnight stays spiked 114.9 percent with 3,900 permits issued.

The Sun Road opened from the West Entrance to Logan Pass on June 11. The iconic road fully opened June 19, two weeks earlier than last year.

Amid June’s record visitation, the park celebrated its 100 millionth visitor on June 11.

Favorable weather and unseasonably warm spring conditions attracted the second most visitors in May on record, barely behind 2007’s total of 137,220.

Last year saw an annual record number of visitors to Glacier with 2.33 million.