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How to get a permit for visiting Glacier National Park in 2023

  • By Kate Moore
  • on 
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As the popularity of Glacier National Park increases, big changes have been made to the reservation system in 2023.

This year, four areas of the park require advanced tickets to explore. Luckily, it’s not as complicated as it sounds!

In this article we’ll tell you how to make a Glacier National Park reservation, and how to enter the park without one.

Reservation area map

2023 Glacier National Park reservation area map for getting tickets to Going-to-the-Sun Road and other areas of the park.

The first thing you’ll need to do is familiarize yourself with the reservation area map. This will help you determine which areas of the park require an advance ticket, and which areas do not.

You’ll quickly notice that all of the most popular areas of the park requires a reservation during the busy season. This includes: Going-to-the-Sun Road, the North Fork, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier.

A separate reservation is required for each section of the park that you visit!

Reservation dates and times

Entrance StationDates (2023)TimesValidity
PolebridgeMay 26 – Sep 106am – 3pm1 day
Camas*May 26 – Sep 106am – 3pm3 days
West*May 26 – Sep 106am – 3pm3 days
Rising Sun Checkpoint*July 1 – Sep 106am – 3pm3 days
Many GlacierJuly 1 – Sep 106am – 3pm1 day
Two MedicineJuly 1 – Sep 106am – 3pm1 day
*Indicates Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor

Park tickets are checked between the end of May and mid-September between 6am and 3pm. Reservations for Polebridge, Many Glacier, and Two Medicine are valid for 1 day.

Reservations for the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corrdior are valid for 3 consecutive days.

Where to buy tickets

It’s time to plan ahead! You cannot purchase a same-day vehicle reservation inside Glacier National Park! Instead, they must be purchased online at before your trip. There are two booking windows:

  • Block release system (~120 days in advance)
  • The day before (rolling basis)
getting vehicle reservation tickets for glacier national park

Release dates

The safest way to reserve your ticket is through the block release system. Reservations are available on a rolling basis and they get released 120 days before the effective date. This is approximately 4-months in advance.

Release DateRelease TimeVisit Date
February 1, 20238am (MST)May 26 – June 30
March 1, 20238am (MST)July 1 – July 31
April 1, 20238am (MST)August 1 – August 31
May 1, 20238am (MST)September 1 – September 10

A limited number of reservations are released 24-hours before the visit date. This is your last opportunity to make a reservation!

Proof of access

After purchasing a ticket you will receive an email confirmation from

You must print or save a screenshot of your reservations to show at the park entrance. Many areas of the park do not have cell phone service so you will not be able to download your pass at the gate!


It’s important to remember that each of the four areas: North Fork, Many Glacier, Two Medicine, and Going-to-the-Sun Road each require their own reservations.

  • Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor permit is valid for 3 consecutive days
  • All other permits are valid for one day
  • Permits cannot be transferred, exchanged, or refunded
  • A park pass is required in addition to the permit
  • Having a reservation does not garantee parking in the most popular areas!

These permits sell out quickly! So you’ll want to hop on your computer at 8am and purchase the ticket as soon as they become available!

How To Get Into Glacier National Park Without A Reservation

So what happens if you don’t have a reservation? Can you still take a last-minute trip? Well we have good news for you!

There are plenty of other (legal) ways to get into Glacier National Park without a reservation.

  • Arrive before or after the reservation corridor is in effect
  • Book a commercial tour
  • Book a hotel or campsite
  • Rent recreational equipment
  • Additional options
  • Visit other sections of the park
west glacier national park entrance station

Arrive before or after the reservation corridor is in effect

The simplest way to get into the park without a reservation is to arrive before 6am. Reservations are only checked when entering the park and they are not policed once inside the park.

Do remember that a lot of tourists are going to have the same idea of arriving before 6am. So make sure you arrive early enough that you don’t end up stuck in-line at 6:01.

You can also arrive after 3pm which is when the park rangers stop checking reservations in all areas of the park.

Book a commercial tour

The next easiest way to get into the park without a reservation is to book a commercial tour. Anyone with a valid tour reservation can get into the restricted corridors without a vehicle pass.

Here are the tours that come with a free vehicle reservation:

When booking a tour, you can only enter the park on the day of that tour (not for 3 consecutive days). So plan accordingly!

horseback riding tour in glacier national park montana

Book a hotel or campsite in Glacier National Park

Anyone with a hotel or campsite reservation within Glacier National Park does not need a vehicle registration! Your hotel or campsite reservation will get you into the restricted corridor!

There are a few caveats with this approach:

  • Access is only valid for the day of service booked.
  • You can only get into the area of the park where your lodging is located
  • Hotels and campsites often sell out faster than vehicle reservations

Camping Reservations

Glacier National Park has 13 front-country campgrounds and many of them are available on a first-come, first-served basis. But there are five that allow you to book ahead:

  • Apgar Campground
  • Fish Creek Campground
  • Sprague Creek Campground
  • St. Mary Campground
  • Many Glacier Campground

Campsites can be reserved on a 6-month rolling basis, but a certain number of sites will be reservable up to 4 days before the desired date on

Hotel Reservations

  • Apgar Village Lodge
  • Glacier Bear Retreat
  • Granite Park Chalet
  • Lake McDonald Lodge
  • Motel Lake McDonald
  • Rising Sun Motor Inn
  • Sperry Chalet
  • Village Inn at Apgar
red bus tours outside of the many glacier resort and hotel in montana

Rent recreational equipment

If all else fails, you can rent recreational equipment like paddle boards, boats, and bicycles through one of two authorized concessionaires in the area:

Equipment pickup is located within the park. So when you get to the entrance station, simply show the ranger your equipment rental reservation and you’re good to go!

Other ways to get into Glacier without a reservation

Wilderness campers beginning at trailheads inside West Entrance, Camas Entrance, and St. Mary Entrance do not need a vehicle registration. (You do need a wilderness camping permit though!)

You can also get into Glacier National Park with a special use permit for events such as weddings, photography or film, and commercial activities.

Visit other sections of Glacier National Park

It’s true that the most popular areas of Glacier National Park are hidden behind a restricted corridor. However- when you zoom out, it’s really just one small section of the park. There are still plenty of places to visit even without a permit.

map of areas and sections within glacier national park including waterton lakes, north fork, goat haunt, belly river, lake mcdonald, many glacier, st mary, walton, and two medicine

Some of the most popular areas of the park which do not require a reservation include:

  • Cut Bank
  • St. Mary Lake east of the Rising Sun Entrance
  • Walton
  • Areas along Hwy 2 and Chief Mountain Highway

Frequently Asked Questions

Take a deep breath and don’t worry about reservations! Even if you don’t plan ahead, there are still plenty of ways to get into Glacier without a permit. Your trip will not be ruined if you forget about the reservation system.

Remember, that permits are not required before May 26th or after September 10th.

You can arrive in early May or late September and roll right into the park.

How far in advance can you book Glacier National Park tickets?

You can get vehicle reservation tickets 120 days in advance; and you can book Glacier National Park hotels up to 13 months in advance.

Do you need a Glacier National Park Pass if you have a vehicle reservation?

A National Park Pass is required in addition to a vehicle reservation ticket.

Can you get into Glacier National Park without a reservation?

You can visit certain areas of Glacier National Park without a reservation. But the most popular sections of the park including Going-to-the-Sun road require advanced tickets.

Whether you decide to make a reservation or go off the beaten path, there are plenty of things to do in every area of Glacier. Read about our top activities for first-time travelers.

Hiking is the main attraction in this incredible park. Take a trek on one of the top 15 hiking trails, or visit the best waterfalls in the park.

Once you’ve had your fill of fun, consider camping under the stars in one of the park’s 13 great campgrounds.

If you’re looking for more information, browse our complete guide to Glacier National Park.

Kate is the lead content creator for and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.

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