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Entries in Glacier National Park (79)


December visits will add to Glacier National Park record 

Dennis Bragg photo (WEST GLACIER)- It's all gravy from here.

And however many visitors decide to see Glacier National Park will only add to the park's new annual visitation record. 

Last week the the park set a new visitation record for the second year in a row, a mark reached despite a summer which brought fire closures that interfered with tourism.

There had been some questions in mid-summer whether Glacier would be able to come close to the record set in 2014, after a major fire in the St. Mary valley shut down the Going-to-the-Sun Highway, lodging and campgrounds for a couple of weeks.  

But even with the road's closure, park visits remained strong through the balance of the summer and into the fall. 


The park's November report shows the visitor total at 2.35 million people, easily outpacing the the 2.3 million people that had gone through the park gates at the end of November last year. It also breaks the latest record that had just been set last year at 2.1 million visitors. 

It's the sixth time in the past decade Glacier has had more than 2-million visitors. 


Bear spray saves man in Glacier attack

(WEST GLACIER)- A 65-year old Wisconsin hiker says he was grabbed and shaken by a grizzly bear while hiking off trail in Glacier National Park. But a can of bear spray probably saved his life.

Rangers say the man was hiking alone near Mount Henkel in the Many Glacier Valley on the east side of the park Tuesday when he surprised the sow grizzly and her two cubs. After being grabbed by the bear, the hiker managed to set off his bear spray, and the bear released him and left the area. 

The man then hiked back to his car at Many Glacier and drove to the emergency room at the Northern Rockies Medical Center in Cutbank. He was treated and later released. 

Rangers are still investigating, but say the bear's actions were defensive and what you'd expect when the big animals are surprised by a hiker. 

The park says the incident is a good reminder for hikers to carry bear spray, and avoid areas like berry patches, thickets and fields where the bears are foraging for food, especially before right now in the weeks before hibernation. 


Tester warns of MT economic impact from shutdown 

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)- Montana Senator Jon Tester is worried about how small businesses that depend on the late season tourist business would be able to weather another government shutdown.

The Senate has already given its blessing to a continuing resolution keeping the country running through December with a final vote Thursday. The House must also concur. And although there are some conservatives still pressing the issue of funding for Planned Parenthood, it appears there isn't enough broad GOP support to hold up the spending plan.

Tester believes enough lawmakers remember the negative reactions to the last shutdown 2-years ago, and aren't anxious for a repeat. He says that's good for Montana, since shutting down the government this time of the year can have a very sharp impact on the all important fall travel economy in communities close to Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.

"Each park is over a million dollars a day. In each park. That's real money. That's outside money, for the most part, and that's money that helps drive the economy in those different regions of the state," Tester told MTN News. "And it has it's impacts, very negatively on the small businesses that are trying to eke out a living there. And it just isn't good business. And look, business is tough enough to make ends meet and make the books balance without Congress being a boat anchor too." 


New fire roars to life in southern Glacier National Park

Connie Konopatzke photo(GLACIER N.P.)- Firefighting crews spent Sunday scrambling to get to a new fire that's roared to life in the Glacier National Park backcountry, in the southeast corner of the park.
The Thompson Fire was first spotted around 3 p.m. Sunday in the Thompson Creek drainage. The blaze lies southeast of Lake McDonald and west of the Upper Nyack Campground. But the location of the fire made the smoke easily visible from a broad area of the park, including St. Mary and U.S. 2 around the southern perimeter of the park. 

There have been no firm estimates on the size of the fire at this point, which is burning in the most remote corner of the park, but it's believed to be between 200 and 500 acres. Flathead National Forest had reported aircraft were being called up to the scene, with at least one helicopter in the area by Sunday evening and more in route.
The fire poses no risk to any structures. The only buildings in that corner of the park are some historic ranger cabins and outbuildings at Nyack. 



Going-to-Sun Road back in business this weekend 

GNP map showing restrictions on Going-to-Sun Road(WEST GLACIER)- For the first time since a fire ripped through the St. Mary Valley over 2-weeks ago, tourists will be able to drive completely through the Going-to-the-Sun Road, with the popular route re-opening Friday. 

The road was closed when the Reynolds Creek Fire broke out on the afternoon of July 21st, sweeping through the valley east of Logan Pass. Initially the road was closed between the St. Mary entrance station on the east and Big Bend on the west, and then re-opened as far east as Logan Pass.

However, since then the road remained closed through the scenic St. Mary Valley.

Now, the park has re-opened the entire route, although travel will be restricted to daylight hours between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. with drivers being warned to watch for firefighting activities along the highway. There will be no visitor travel during the evening, night and early morning hours.  

“We believe the night closure is in the best interest of the firefighters working in the area and the visitor," said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow.  

Mow said access may increase or decrease according to fire activity and safety. 

The park says smoke may be visible and could reduce visibility at times, so visitors are required to drive slowly.  Active fire may be visible from the road, and visitors should watch for falling debris such as rocks and tree limbs, as well as fire-weakened trees.  Almost 500 hazard trees, fire-weakened trees, have been removed from along the road.  If anyone sees or encounters debris or fallen trees on the road, do not attempt to remove it, but please report it to a ranger or closest visitor center. 

Firefighters will be working and firefighting equipment will be staged along the road. Visitors will not be able to stop or park along the road or in pullouts between the St. Mary Campground and Siyeh Bend.  However, the Rising Sun area will have limited access to concession operations.  Siyeh Bend is located approximately one mile east of Logan Pass.