FLATHEAD LAKE — Blue Bay will have a good year, and Montana will have another busy summer. Campgrounds will be full, parks will be crowded, and people are booking Airbnbs a year in advance as they become increasingly expensive and have limited availability during the summer vacation season.
The Natural Resources Department’s Wildland Recreation Program funding helped to meet one of the recreation needs, such as improving the fishing dock for the upcoming season of fun at Blue Bay campground.
Wind and waves can take a toll on docks. As the lake level dropped, staff had access to areas where changes or repairs needed to be made.
“Our tribal membership loves Blue Bay; we don’t have a lot of access areas for tribal membership to attend,” said Rich Janssen, NRD director.
Other updates include the purchase of a large ice-making machine, which will allow Blue Bay to store and sell ice to guests. They sell 50 to 100 bags of ice per day.
One of the bathrooms near the back of the campground was updated.
Jobs for Blue Bay and other places will be posted in next month, and Blue Bay will continue to prepare for the season that Montanans are looking forward to. “We’re excited and anticipating a good year,” Janssen said.
Blue Bay Campground is scheduled to open for the Memorial Day weekend.
Montana State Parks anticipate a busy year. Glacier National Park has announced that a vehicle reservation system will be reinstated for the 2022 peak season, which runs from May 27 to September 11, from 6 am to 4 pm Ifa reservation cannot be obtained, inquire about being able to enter without one after 4 pm There are different guidelines for different areas.
Vehicle reservations are not required for tribal members, landowners within vehicle reservation areas, and their guests or visitors who enter on foot or by bike.
More information on Glacier National Park vehicle reservation system can be found at https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/gtsrticketedentry.htm
While there are economic benefits to tourists visiting Montana, many Montana residents are beginning to feel overcrowded with tourists. Data shows in recent years, more people have begun to agree than disagree that Montana is becoming overcrowded with tourists.
According to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research’s recent report, “Montana Residents: Attitudes Towards Tourism 2021 (ITRR)” for the first time ITRR recorded more than half of respondents (56 percent) feel that the state is becoming overcrowded as a result of more tourists in Q4 of 2021. Residents attitudes toward crowding in the state have risen from a 28 percent agreement to 56 percent in the last 20 years.
Since 1991, ITRR has asked residents specific questions about their attitudes toward tourism during the fourth quarter of each year (October, November, and December) in order to track current trends in perception of the industry.
According to the report, 85 percent of Yellowstone Country residents felt that their community is becoming overcrowded because of increased tourism. Glacier Country respondents felt the same way, with 70 percent agreeing.
The report states that residents believe the current level of crowding is due to people moving to the state, as well as the number of people who visit each year.
Residents can expect another busy summer, with both traditional tourists and newcomers.
Rural stays near national and state parks, the Great Lakes, and white sand beaches were trending last summer compared to the summer of 2019. Whitefish Mountain near Glacier National Park, West Yellowstone, and Park County all made Airbnb’s list of top summer 2021 destinations.
According to Airbnb’s top 10 most-wanted stays, which include rustic retreats, immersive abodes with panoramic views of nature, and architectural marvels. Creekside Hideaway in Clancy ranks among the top 10.
Airbnbs expect another busy summer as families seek out destinations with theme parks and other kid-friendly attractions. As of this year, many families are booking stays in various areas of Florida, which claims half of the Airbnb top 2022 summer destinations.
According to Expedia’s 2022 Travel Trends Reports, more than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) plan to go big on their next trip, with many eyeing international destinations. Expedia refers to this new way of traveling as the “GOAT” (Greatest of All Trips) mindset.
People are looking for excitement and exhilaration after the difficult years of the pandemic. As coronavirus restrictions are relaxed, the travel industry anticipates increased travel.