Cell service in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park sucks. I love that. It's actually one of my favorite things about visiting the park because it forces everyone in my family to put down their phones for the day and enjoy the grandeur of nature. It seems like it gets harder and harder to unplug from that stupid little computer in your hand, and when you visit the parks, it gives you no choice.

When I saw the headline yesterday (1/5) for the press release from the National Park Service regarding its approval for a telecommunications upgrade in Glacier, at first I was bummed. My immediate thought was, "Why?! Surely this will just lead to more tourists walking around glued to their devices." Thankfully, that's not really the case.


The telecommunications upgrade is primarily for staff.

The press release notes that the approved communications upgrades are for internal park business, not for Hashtag Haley who can't get a signal for her Instagram "influencing." The NPS wrote,

Actions under the plan will address deficiencies in NPS radio, phone, computer and data-based telecommunications systems that support park operations. The plan will allow a flexible response to changing communication needs and advances in technology, including upgrading to new technologies and/or removing unnecessary NPS telecommunications infrastructure if needed.

Any planned upgrades follow strict guidelines regarding size, location, visibility to the public, construction methods, etc., effectively banning unsightly towers like the one seen below.

white and orange cell tower with sky and clouds background
Credit: Vi Gregnol

Don't rule out better cell service in some parts of GNP.

Most of the upgrades in the plan involve radio repeaters, transmitters, and other equipment used by park rangers and personnel. BUT... expanded cell coverage for the public could be coming at some point. The National Park Service wrote,

Additionally, the plan enables a strategy for commercial cellular and/or Internet access for public and NPS use in certain developed areas.

Park officials are now accepting proposals from telecom companies interesting in providing limited cell coverage in parts of the park. These locations will be highly restricted and limited to developed areas at Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Two Medicine, and Lake McDonald Lodge.

RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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