Fall 2021 In Glacier National Park

Glacier Operations Adjust As Ticketed Entry Winds Down

fall along the river in Glacier National Park
Fall on Glacier’s border river, the Middle Fork Flathead. Photo by @unotainablehr

As fall 2021 in Glacier National Park approaches, operations in the park adjust. Probably the biggest change is that the park’s ticketed entry pilot program ends on September 6 — as does the shuttle program. Park officials are expecting high visitation numbers in September. Which makes sense, with the end of ticketed entry and the predicted insanely gorgeous weather, at least at the start of September!

Construction continues, of course. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and prepare for temporary traffic restrictions at the west entrance due to congestion and Highway 2 construction delays. There may be temporary closures of the west entrance due to congestion.

Here’s what else you need to know as you plan ahead and prepare for your fall 2021 in Glacier National Park.

  • All real-time reporting systems such as campground availability, trail status, etc. are currently down on Glacier National Park’s website. This service is not expected to resume this season.
  • The Going-to-the-Sun Road is scheduled to remain open from Avalanche Creek to Jackson Glacier Overlook until Sunday, October 17 at midnight, pending closures due to winter weather.
  • Construction will continue on Many Glacier Road causing 40-minute delays in both directions during the day and up to three hours at night. Starting September 19 at midnight, Many Glacier Road will be closed to the public for the year.
  • Camas Road is also under construction causing 30-minute delays in both directions during the day.
  • Visitors can check the Montana Department of Transportation website for updates on Highway 2 construction.   

Visitor Centers Info for Fall 2021

Logan Pass Visitors Center receives quite a bit of snow each year, as seen in this spring photo!
  • Visitor information services at Logan Pass Visitor Center continue daily through Sunday, September 26.
  • The Glacier National Park Conservancy bookstore operating within Logan Pass Visitor Center will also close September 26.
  • Potable water will be unavailable at Logan Pass after Sunday, September 12.
  • Visitor information services at St. Mary Visitor Center continue daily through Sunday, October 3.
  • Potable water will be unavailable at St. Mary after Monday, October 4.
  • Visitor information services at Apgar Visitor Center continue daily through Monday, October 11, and then move to weekends only through October 24, weather permitting.
  • Restrooms and potable water are available at the Apgar Visitor Center plaza year-round.

Campgrounds – Fall 2021 in Glacier National Park

Front country campgrounds will close on the following dates:

  • Logging Creek, September 2
  • Quartz Creek, September 2
  • Fish Creek Campground, September 6
  • Sprague Creek, September 13
  • Many Glacier, September 1
  • One section of Apgar Campground (Loop B) will move to primitive status starting Monday, October 4.
  • Bowman and Kintla Lake campgrounds will move to primitive status Monday, September 13 through weather dependent closure.
  • Two Medicine campground will move to primitive camping Monday, September 20 through weather dependent closure.
  • Campgrounds in primitive status have vault toilets available and fees are reduced. No campground reservations are issued at primitive campgrounds and all camping is first-come, first-served. Visit the park’s campground page for additional camping information.
  • Avalanche Creek, Cut Bank, Rising Sun, and St. Mary campgrounds remained closed during the 2021 season.
Fall in Glacier National Park. Lake McDonald from Fish Creek. NPS Photo.
Fall in Glacier National Park. Lake McDonald from Fish Creek. NPS Photo.

Fall 2021 Backpacking

Keep in mind that we’ve already had a dusting of snow in the high country, and big snow events are not unusual in the fall in Glacier National Park. We’ve been guiding backpacking trips in the park since 1983, and our last trip this year departs September 15th – just so ya know.

  • The Apgar Wilderness Permit Office is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through September 25.
  • The office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. through October 31.
  • Wilderness permits will be issued until 30-minutes prior to closing.
  • Advance reservations for wilderness permits are available until Sept. 26.
  • Walk-in permits are issued up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Check the Wilderness Camping page for more information.
fall backpacking in Glacier National Park
Fall backpacking in Glacier National Park. Photo by Guide Jordan Smith.

Boat Inspections

  • Lake McDonald, Bowman Lake, and Kintla Lake will be the only vehicle accessible bodies of water open to watercraft in the park after September 25.
  • Boat inspection station hours are currently 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily through September 4.
  • Inspection hours will change to 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. starting September 5 and again to 8:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m.
  • September 26 through October 31.
  • All park waters are closed to watercraft beginning November 1.

Fall 2021 Concession Operations: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Boat Tours, Sun Tours, Red Buses, Chalets, Lodges

The folks who offer all those fun activities in the park are called “concessioners.” We are the park’s hiking concession partner – since 1983!

Some concessioner services will begin winding down mid-September, although ours won’t. You can join us for Nature Walks and other day hikes through October 15. That being said, availability is limited and advance reservations are required. We’ll also be rafting, fishing, biking, and offering lodging through October 15.

Whatever you’re planning on doing in and around Glacier National Park, definitely check open/closed status and business hours before you go! In-park services are linked on the park’s website so you can investigate their operational hours. In Glacier, it’s always about having a plan, and a backup plan, for maximum success and fun.

Logan Pass weather in the fall
Logan Pass weather in the fall tends to include winter.

Weather

In short: in the fall, we can get all the weather in a single day. You’ll need layers, for sure! Autumn visitors to Glacier National Park will find cooler temperatures and are encouraged to prepare for shifting weather conditions with potential for rain or snow, especially in the mountains. For example, take a look at averages at Logan Pass during the fall.

Bears

As Fall approaches bear activity will increase. Visitors are asked to be mindful of attractant storage requirements and remember that pets are not permitted on trails at any time. Learn more about bear safety on the park’s website.

Closing Time?

Although most roads and services in Glacier National Park eventually close up due to Montana’s winters, keep in mind that the park is open year-round. Recreational opportunities can be found during all seasons. For additional information, visit the park’s website or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800. You can call us year-round, too – we’re living our best West Glacier lives 12 months per year, though our guiding season ends October 15.

If you’re looking for more info about what to do in the fall in Glacier, we’ve written lots about this special season over the years. You can find links to those posts on the Plan page of our website. Our best advice: plan ahead and prepare to recreate responsibly and PROTECT GLACIER! We’ll see you out there —

rafting in the fall
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