Park visitation slightly lower than last July

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Visitors cool off in Glacier National Park earlier this month.

Overall visitation to Glacier National Park in July was down just under 3 percent over last year’s figures.

The park saw 879,711 visitors this July, last year it saw 905,959.

Still, Glacier has been a very busy place. To date it’s seen 1,675,503 visitors and last year it saw 1,731,611 through July. This year’s drop is about 3 percent overall.

A decade ago, Glacier saw 2.031 million for the entire year. In the past few years, visitation has surged and in 2017, topped 3.3 million total and has been close to 3 million since 2016.

It could still top 3 million this year as well.

In the last two years, fires shut down the Going-to-the-Sun Road for weeks at a time, which lowered visitation.

That probably won’t happen this year. Recent rains have quelled any fire threats in the Park at least for the next few weeks.

Some park entrances actually counted more people, not less, in July.

The west entrance, for example, saw 410,135 visitors, compared to 401,312 a year ago — a 2.2 percent increase.

Polebridge was also up, with 24,435 compared to 22,965 last year — an increase of 6.4 percent.

The downturn came on the east side, where St. Mary saw 195,019 visitors compared to 203,392 last year, a 4.1 percent drop.

The Camas entrance on the west side was down, as was Walton/Goat Lick, which saw a substantial drop at from 40,752 this year from 49,889 last year. The Walton area isn’t actually an entrance per se — cars stop at the Goat Lick along Highway 2 to watch mountain goats on the cliffs near the Middle Fork of the Flathead.

Still, it amounted to an 18 percent drop there.

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