Glacier National Park has stopped issuing backcountry camping permits due to an expected increase in fire activity this weekend.
This weekend’s incoming cold front will likely usher in gusty winds and dry thunderstorms, which fire officials say could grow existing fires and start new ones across western Montana.
Lauren Alley, a spokesperson for the park, says this will be a critical fire weekend in Glacier.
"The park wants to reduce the number of people in the backcountry overnight given that possibility."
This cancels 161 advanced registrations for the weekend. Most backcountry trails on the eastern side of the park remain open for day use.
Glacier has already closed the western half of its iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, as well as the historic Lake McDonald Lodge due to wildfires.
Air quality in the Flathead Valley has been categorized as "very unhealthy" for all but a few hours in the last 3 days, forcing a few closures and event cancellations.
In Apgar Village, Xanterra has closed the Village Inn at Apgar due to poor air quality, but all of Glacier Park Incorporated’s lodges, restaurants and shops remain open in Apgar and West Glacier.
In Canada, Glacier’s sister park Waterton Lakes National Park, issued a full evacuation order Friday for all areas of the park due to the Kenow Fire. The evacuation order includes the Waterton townsite and all front and backcountry trails. The Chief Mountain border crossing remains open.
Back in Glacier, fire crews have laid an elaborate hose and sprinkler system to protect Lake McDonald Lodge, private houses along the north end of Lake McDonald and the popular Trail of the Cedars. Fire managers say resources are scarce.
A handful of popular events in the Flathead Valley have been canceled this weekend due to poor air quality, including the Two Bear Marathon in Whitefish, the Ovando Gran Fondo bike race to support the Missoula Symphony Association in Ovando, the Montana Dragon Boat Festival in Kalispell, and the Norman Maclean Festival has been moved from Seeley Lake to Missoula.