Rules about passes and reservations in our National Parks have become pretty confusing, and the details can change every year. Glacier National Park in Montana has it's own set of reservation challenges, making vacation planning somewhat difficult.

You will need a park pass to get into Glacier National Park, no matter if you'll be traveling through a section that requires a vehicle reservation such as Going-to-the-Sun road. (There are day passes, annual passes, and various America The Beautiful passes.)

Glacier National Park 2024 vehicle registration areas include: Going-to-the-Sun Road (West), North Fork, and Many Glacier. You do NOT need a vehicle registration to enter the park and the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the St. Mary entrance on the east side. Have patience with yourself - the current rules and requirements can be confusing.

  • May 24th through September 8th vehicle reservations are required for the west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road and North Fork from 6 am to 3 pm.
  • July 1st through September 8th vehicle reservations are required for Many Glacier from 6 am to 3 pm.
  • Each of these areas are unique and require separate vehicle registrations.
  • The park is open 24/7 and visitors may enter vehicle reservation areas before 6 am or after 3 pm without a vehicle reservation.
  • Next Day vehicle reservations will be available at 7pm MDT for next-day entry starting on May 23rd, 2024 on a daily rolling basis.
  • You DO NOT NEED A VEHICLE REGISTRATION if you already have an activity booked, or hotel reservations made within the 'registration required' areas. You WILL HAVE TO bring proof of those reservations to avoid paying for the additional vehicle registration.
  • Vehicle reservations can only be booked on Recreation.gov
  • Some roads outside of Glacier National Park are seasonal too, not just roads such as Going-to-the-Sun.

"Pursuant to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, vehicle reservations are not required for tribal members throughout the park. Landowners inside the park are not required to have a vehicle reservation to access their properties." (nps.gov)

Full parking lot inside Glacier National Park in Montana
Glacier National Park parking lot
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Going-to-the-Sun Road is generally fully open by early July. Sometimes it's earlier - sometimes it's later. Mother Nature dictates how much plowing can be done by crews. However, the lower portion of Going-to-the-Sun Road is open all year and allows access to many area and activities.

Essex exit in Montana - Montana Department of Transportation
Essex exit in Montana - Montana Department of Transportation
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What is the speed limit on Going-to-the-Sun Road? 40 mph is the speed limit in the lower elevations of the road and 25 mph in the alpine section. "Vehicles and vehicle combinations longer than 21 feet (including bumpers) or wider than 8 feet (including mirrors) are prohibited between Avalanche Creek and Rising Sun."

  • Other important Glacier Park tips from nps.gov:
  • There are no fueling stations within Glacier's boundaries.
  • Parking is limited. During summer, parking lots often fill by early morning.
  • During extreme congestion, access to whole areas may be temporarily restricted to allow for emergency vehicles.
  • Glacier's entries and roads all have specific restrictions and season lengths. Please plan accordingly.
  • The Chief Mountain Border Crossing is open during the summer season only.
Glacier National Park in Montana
Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash
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