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Business booms at Glacier National Park

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:09:14 AM MST
Updated On: Sep 02 2013 05:47:55 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

One of the best summers ever -- that's what businesses in the Glacier area are telling us about the 2013 summer season.  Visitor counts are up at Glacier National Park this year. 

With more people coming in, that means more spending.

"Business has been really, really good,” said Jeff Baldell, the co-owner of Glacier Outdoor Center, a company that specializes in rafting and fishing.

With a 13 percent increase in visitors at the park from 2011 to 2012, and a 3.4 percent increase from 2012 to 2013 already, Baldelli says they've had a great year, and expect even bigger things in the future.

"Everyone's noticing that tourism is up around the valley so I think that's definitely helping.  I think the economy is turning around a little bit and hopefully it will continue to do that in the future," said Baldelli.

Baldelli broke down his numbers for us. He tells NBC Montana the goal every year is to get 20,000 customers. He's already at 18,000, and there's plenty of time left in the season.

Baldelli is not alone in his success.

"We were definitely a lot busier than we had been last summer,” said Josh Taira of Glacier Park Boat Company.

He thanks a hot summer for boosting business.

"Weather was definitely a huge factor.  There was a week where it was about 90 degrees and we were swamped the entire time, so definitely weather and just overall people wanting to get out more it brought a lot more business towards our way."

Glacier is unpredictable. It can snow at anytime, like it did back in August of 2005, when eight inches of snow forced hundreds out of the backcountry.

But for now, business will slowly unwind, as people wait for winter, and dream of more success next summer.