It’s time to get your boats and other watercraft out of storage and ready for fishing, boating and fun.  If you plan on playing on taking your motorized and hand propelled watercraft into Glacier National Park you will have to have it inspected to get your free permit.  Read below to see just what this means.

Glacier National Park continues its boat inspection and permit program this summer as part of an ongoing aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention program.   Continuing westward expansion of zebra and quagga mussels, and other aquatic invasive species, transported mainly on recreational watercraft, is prompting park managers to adjust existing prevention strategies.

New to the program this year is the requirement for all hand-propelled watercraft (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rafts, catarafts) being launched within the park to obtain an AIS-free self-certification permit.  The permit is free, completed by the boater, and is required upon each entry to the park.  The permit must remain with boaters while they are floating.  It is available at all park visitor centers, back-country permit offices, park headquarters, and at maintained boat launches.  The permit is also available online at the park’s website at  Park employees will gladly inspect hand propelled watercraft on a voluntary basis.

Motorized and trailered watercraft must have a thorough boat inspection by a park employee upon every entry to the park.  A free permit is issued after the inspection, which will take at least 30 minutes, depending on the complexity of the boat.  A boat may launch multiple times provided the boat does not leave the park between launches.

All boaters are encouraged to thoroughly clean, drain, and dry their watercraft and/or fishing equipment before coming to the park. To receive a permit, boats must be clean, drained and thoroughly dry (including bilge areas and livewells) upon inspection.  Fishing equipment must be clean and dry as well.  Dirty boats and boats that arrive with any standing water in the boat (including livewell and bilge areas), and boats with inaccessible internal ballast tanks will not be issued a permit.

Though launch hours are not restricted, inspection hours are limited.  Hours vary throughout the park and will be adjusted seasonally. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, permits are available from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at park headquarters in West Glacier, and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at all other locations, including the St. Mary Visitor Center, Two Medicine Ranger Station, and Many Glacier Ranger Station. Boaters wishing to launch on Bowman Lake should obtain a permit at park headquarters, but they must immediately proceed to Bowman Lake after the inspection.

Boats failing inspection will be denied a permit.  Boaters may re-apply for a permit after their boat is thoroughly cleaned, drained and dried.  Boats found with infestations of any aquatic invasive species may be quarantined until they are fully decontaminated, which may take up to 30 days.

Invasive mussels have been found on boats within Montana and passing through Montana over the past few years.  Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasive aquatic plants are also present in western Montana waterways, necessitating a high degree of vigilance to prevent spread.  Federal law prohibits the transportation and introduction of invasive species into the ecosystem in Glacier National Park

Park managers appreciate the cooperation of recreational boaters to help prevent aquatic invasive species entering Glacier National Park.   The consequences of aquatic invasive species becoming established in park waters at the headwaters for the Columbia, Missouri and Hudson Bay Watersheds are dire for aquatic ecosystems, recreational opportunities, and economic concerns downstream. Park officials urge all boaters to clean, drain, and dry their boats and related equipment after every outing.

For more information on boating in Glacier National Park and the prevention of aquatic invasive species, please visit the park’s web page at