I received the following note from Jim Dahlstrom, the North Fork District Ranger, concerning the reopening of Glacier Park’s Polebridge entrance on Monday, June 15.
Jim will be available to answer questions about this issue at the NFLA general membership meeting, 8:00pm, Sunday, June 14 at Sondreson Hall. He is the first item on the agenda.
Please note that Sondreson Hall is operating under some COVID-19-related usage restrictions, including a 50-person maximum capacity limit. See “COVID-19: Sondreson Hall Use Restrictions and Guidelines” for details.
…I wanted to pass along some information for you to share at your upcoming meeting this Sunday, regarding Glacier National Park’s phased reopening plans. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the info we have posted on our website, but to further explain specifically what we’ll be doing in the North Fork this summer (a press release will be going out tomorrow, but not including all of the information here):
- The North Fork area will open on June 15th as a day use only area. No overnight camping in the frontcountry campgrounds or backcountry. Backcountry camping should be available about the last week in June, and I would expect we will open our frontcountry campgrounds shortly thereafter. No fees will be collected, and this year we will have a strict limit to the number of vehicles allowed beyond the gate at one time in the North Fork. We will start with 150 cars and see how congested that is, and may adjust down if we find that to be unmanageable. We will allow a limited number of vehicles to form a queue, and when an appropriate number of vehicles leave the area, we will allow the requisite number of vehicles in. Be aware that we have a total of about 100 parking places in the whole area, including Bowman, Kintla, and Logging Creek, and several small trailheads. Over the past 3 years, we have averaged around 300-500 vehicles per day, with parking lots turning over about 2-3 times per day.
- The Ranger Station will not be open to the public. This is an effort to attempt to reduce exposure to our employees. Information and publications will be available outside and rangers will be stationed at both the window and outside on the lawn to answer questions. The public restrooms at Polebridge will be open, and cleaned and disinfected 3x per day. Vault toilets at the developed areas will get the same treatment 2x per day. Water will be available at the campgrounds and sanitizing pumps in key locations.
- At 4:30 every day, the inbound gate at Polebridge will be closed and a sign placed indicating its hours as a day use only location. Visitors in the North Fork after 4:30 will be allowed to exit at their leisure, but again, no overnight use is permitted.
- No boating on any North Fork lakes will be available initially. The AIS inspection station in Apgar is currently the only one operating in the park (and only for non-motorized boating) due to reduced staffing and limited emergency response throughout the park. I would expect that additional park waters will open incrementally as the season progresses. At this time, we will not be able to issue any NF resident annual passes for boating as well, as it would complicate visitor perceptions. NPS employees are not allowed to participate in recreational boating as well, except on Lake McDonald.
This is a lot of information to digest, so if anything is unclear please reach out to me. I’ll be available by cell the rest of the weekend, and I am more than happy to come to the meeting to deliver this information in person. Just say the word and I’ll be there.