Glacier records second-busiest year despite fires

KALISPELL (AP) — Glacier National Park recorded its second-busiest year in 2018 despite wildfires that closed popular areas of the park during the peak season.

The Flathead Beacon reports that more than 2.9 million people visited Glacier last year. The data released by the National Park Service this week shows a 10.3 percent drop from 2017’s record 3.3 million visitors.

The Howe Ridge Fire forced the evacuation of a large section of the park’s west side in August. The blaze burned several home along Lake McDonald and forces the early closure of Lake McDonald Lodge for the season.

Visitation to the park has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2016 the year of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration, Glacier saw 24 percent more visitors than the year before.