Sunday, March 1, 2015

Backcountry Camping

Backcountry Camping

Ahern Pass
David Restivo, NPS
Glacier is a backpacking paradise. The park consistently ranks as one of the most popular backpacking parks in the NPS. Famous for its towering mountains, pristine alpine lakes, abundant wildlife, and its 700+ miles of trails, this amazing place is growing in popularity each year.
Many resources are available online for backcountry users to plan their trips. The most important is theBackcountry Guide that is available as a PDF file. Around mid to late-May, we begin updating other resources that are helpful in trip planning (links are listed in step 2 below). Follow the steps below to start planning your summer adventure. For a winter backcountry permit, please visit our Winter page.
Step 1 - Read the Backcountry Camping Guide

Glacier National Park's current Backcountry Camping Guide is now available online as a PDF document. Please read through the entire Guide. Changes may effect your planned route. Incorrectly completed applications will be returned unprocessed, decreasing your chances of obtaining your trip planned.
All advanced reservation requests received from January 1 through April 15, 2015 are eligible for the advanced reservation request lottery. The lottery processing begins on April 16, 2015. Each reservation application will be designated a randomly generated number and will be processed in that order. It can take up to a month to process all the advance reservation requests received in the lottery. Advanced reservation requests that are received after April 15 will be processed in the order of receipt and after the initial advanced reservation requests are processed.
Four images of Glacier's backcountry
Glacier's Backcountry
Step 2 - Use our Trip Planning Aids
Trail Status Reports and Walk-in Availability are only updated mid-May through early fall
  • Trail Status ReportsAs backcountry rangers and trail crews return from patrols and maintenance activities they update our Trail Status Database. That information is posted to the website every morning, supplying the most up-to-date information possible on trails.
    Updated May through early fall.
  • Advance Reservation AvailabilityUse this link to find out which campgrounds have sites still available by reservation. This page is updated several time per day.
  • Trail and Area ClosuresTrails, backcountry campgrounds, and other areas of the park that have closures or are posted are listed here. Just click on a campground on the map and you will be taken to the availability calendar. This page is updated as conditions change.
  • Walk-in Availability
    What's available tonight? This link will take you to the Daily Backcountry Availability Chart to see what's available for trips starting less than 24 hours in advance. The dates are listed in green at the top of the chart. The numbers below indicate how many sites are available for a "walk-in" permit. Check the date at the top to make sure the chart is current.
  • Backcountry Campground GPS DataA PDF file of coordinates to all the backcountry campgrounds.
Step 3 - Watch our Backcountry Camping Videos
Summer Backcountry Camping
This 14 minute video is an essential tool to plan a successful overnight experience in the park. Day-hikers and the casual visitor to Glacier will also enjoy this introduction to the wilds of one of the most spectacular and wild areas in the world.
Winter Backcountry Camping VideoThis video will aid in planning a successful winter overnight experience in the park. Park visitors not planning on this level of extreme winter recreation will appreciate the challenges highlighted in this short vignette into Glacier's winter.
Leave No TraceLearn how you can minimize your impact on Glacier National Park and other places you recreate.
Step 4 - Apply for a backcountry permit

The application (the link to the application form is in Step 1) may be filled out online and printed or you can print it and fill it out by hand. Please mail or fax the completed application to:
Backcountry Reservations
Glacier National Park
West Glacier, MT 59936
406-888-5819 (fax)
Hiking Guide Service
Glacier Guides offers guided day hikes and backpacking trips into Glacier's backcountry. Backcountry Sherpa/porter service is also available, carrying visitor's gear into backcountry campgrounds or chalets. Camping equipment is available for rent at their West Glacier office.

Drop Camp ServiceSwan Mountain Outfitters offers drop-camp service, packing visitors gear into certain backcountry campgrounds, using stock.
Hole in the Wall
Near Hole in the Wall
David Restivo, NPS
Day Trip Plan
If you are taking a day hike, please consider completing the voluntary Day Trip Plan form and leaving it with the front desk of your hotel or a traveling companion that is not hiking with you. This voluntary form can help you plan your trip and could be a valuable tool for search and rescue efforts if needed.
Please understand that completion of this form does not mean a search will be initiated for you if you do not return. However, if you are reported overdue from a hike, this document would help search personnel concentrate search efforts along your intended route saving critical time and possibly reducing risks to those that go looking for you.
If you are staying inside the park, you are welcome to leave a copy of this form with your hotel's front desk. All forms will be destroyed 30 days after the date completed. Again, this form is not intended to imply that our hotel concessioner or the National Park Service will be monitoring your return and does not mean a search will be initiated. If a search is initiated because others reported you overdue, the National Park Service will check with the hotels to see if a Day Trip Plan was filed and use it to help focus their search efforts. Plan well and enjoy your hike!

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