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Glacier Park Implements Lottery For Backcountry Camping Reservations

Hole-in-the-Wall backcountry campground in Glacier National Park.
David Restivo - National Parks Service (PD)
Hole-in-the-Wall backcountry campground in Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park managers are implementing new lottery-based backcountry camping reservations intended to preserve the park’s overloaded internet system and campers’ chances at getting sites.

The new system will collect all campsite reservation requests placed opening day, this Friday, and process them in a randomly sequenced order.

It’s partly a logistical fix. Park spokeswoman Lauren Alley said the old first-come, first-served system crashed last year when 1,600 campers tried to book itineraries on high-demand routes in the first hour applications were open.

But the lottery could also provide parity for those without lightning-fast internet connections.

"The intent of the modified lottery is to really to level the playing-field for people with slower internet speeds that live in rural areas and also those that may not be as familiar with technology. Certainly, people with faster internet speeds were advantaged under the old system because they could get their application to go through a little bit faster."

After opening day, applications will be processed in the order they’re received.

Solo campers and groups up to eight will be reimbursed booking fees for reservations that aren’t chosen in the lottery.

But don’t fret if your opening day itinerary is thrown out. About half of backcountry campsites are reserved for walk-ins who book the morning they arrive at the park.

Kevin is a UM Journalism graduate student and reporter for MTPR.
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