As Montana reopens its economy to tourists, Gov. Steve Bullock said during a press conference Wednesday that the state will begin alerting the public about non-residents who test positive for COVID-19 while in Montana.

Glacier National Park announced Tuesday it will reopen the western portion of the park to visitors June 8.

Eastern gates on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation will stay closed as COVID-19 restrictions there remain in place through the end of the month.

As bear activity is picking up across northwest Montana, grizzly bear managers are juggling the uncertain and unexpected impacts of COVID-19 on wild places.

On Friday, state, federal and tribal wildlife officials met remotely over Zoom for their semi-annual meeting. The group discussed how to manage the largest grizzly populations in the lower 48 states – the bears in and around Glacier National Park.

On June 1, Montana will enter into Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. MTPR's Corin Cates-Carney and YPR's Nicky Ouellet explain what that means for individuals, businesses and tourists.

Find more information about what COVID-19 restrictions are in place in Montana.

A decorated reception space at Montana Wildflower Weddings north of Red Lodge, Montana.
Courtesy of Lauren Kluver Photography


June typically kicks off Montana’s busiest wedding season. But this year, couples and small businesses are navigating the ripple effects of COVID-19. 

A sign near Gardiner, Montana, sits near the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, May 16, 2019.
Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

Big sky country and big adventures drew in over 12 million tourists to Montana last year. As the state moves to reopen amid low COVID-19 case numbers, some Montana communities have to weigh the economic importance of tourism with local safety.

The National Park Service is beginning to test public access in some of its parks across the country, and Yellowstone National Park will allow visitors to enter the park through its Wyoming gates beginning Monday, May 18. Glacier National Park remains closed, but both parks prepare to open access in Montana in the coming weeks.

Governor Bullock talking at a Facebook live conference Apr. 17, 2020.
Montana Public Access Network

Updated 04/17/20, 6:50 p.m.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said plans are forming for the state to start a gradual, phased reopening as his stay-at-home and other directives expire Apr. 24.

On a press call Friday Bullock said the plan, developed by the governor’s coronavirus task force headed up by Adjutant General Matthew Quinn, will be publicly available next week.

The UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research asked Montana tourism businesses about their bookings between March 13 and March 26, 2020.
UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research

Over 90 percent of travel related businesses in Montana have been impacted by COVID-19 through cancellations and a sharp decline in bookings, according to a biweekly survey by the University of Montana.

Twice as many businesses responding to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research’s second survey at the end of March reported cancellations compared to two weeks prior.

Tourists visit the general store at Tower Fall, Yellowstone National Park, June 2018.
YNP/Public Domain / Yellowstone Public Radio


Montana’s travel industry is already feeling the impact of the novel coronavirus. Many businesses are worried about the long-term impacts of current cancellations, slow bookings and labor shortages.