Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.Ibn Battuta
About the Park
Glacier National Park in Montana is over a million acres of beautiful mountain terrain with 25 active glaciers throughout the park. It is a paradise for hikers and great summer vacation for retirees. Driving the excellent Going to the Sun Road enables grand views of the park vistas from your car and was one of our many highlights in this fantastic park.
Check out the view from Matahpi Peak!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- Drive the amazing 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun Road. The views are spectacular and don’t be in a hurry.
- Hike to Grinnell Glacier and see waterfall and wildlife
- Visit Logan Pass, which is the highest point of the highway and on the Continental Divide
- Take a boat tour on Lake McDonald
- Go horseback riding through the woods
Our highlight was driving the Going to the Sun Road and seeing the incredible panoramas from Logan Pass. We had our beloved dog, Annie, with us during our trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. Can you see her little gray face peeking up at me from our Airstream?
Size of Park
1,583 square miles
There are over 700 miles of hiking trails in the Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is located in Montana’s Rocky Mountains. As the name suggests, it is filled with glacier-carved peaks and valleys. The park was established in 1910 due to its uniquely carved landscape. With an area of 1 million acres, this wilderness is home to diverse wildlife, including grizzly bears and mountain goats.
There are more than 700 hiking trails, and most tourists come here for cycling, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and camping. The park has also been nicknamed “The Crown Jewel of the Continent” because of its towering peaks on the border of Montana and Alberta, Canada.
Being the 10th largest national park in the country, Glacier National Park preserves its pristine turquoise lakes, glacier-carved peaks, and dense ancient forests. Today, the park has 25 active glaciers.
Best Hikes in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has several trails that are great for hiking or backpacking. The best time to go hiking on these trails is between early July and early September.
Grinnell Glacial Trail
This trail is 18 km long and is located near Siyeh Bend, Montana. While the route is considered challenging, the views are spectacular. The trail passes three lakes; at the final viewpoint, hikers have a beautiful view of several glaciers. Morning is an excellent time to hike this route.
McDonald Creek Trail is almost 5 miles long and has an elevation gain of 280 feet. The trail follows McDonald Creek, where you can peek at the stunning Lake McDonald. This is a great trail to hike if you are visiting the park in the off-season, as most other trails are closed. During winter, hikers can walk along the frozen-over creek.
Trail of the Cedars
This 1.4-mile trail can be completed in 30 minutes. The trail begins from the Avalanche Creek Picnic Area and is one of the few trails in the park that are accessible to those with physical disabilities. The trail is built as a wooden walkway that passes through towering trees.
This boardwalk is wheelchair accessible.
Highline Trail is challenging as it is almost 12 miles long and can take up to 8 hours to complete. This trail is perfect for adventure lovers or those who are looking for something a bit more challenging. The path has an elevation gain of 690 feet and is one-way. This is a must-do trail in the park due to its breathtaking vantage points.
The trail begins from the Logan Pass Visitor Center and runs along a rocky cliff before opening into grassy terrain. Hikers often encounter mountain goats and marmots on their way. Since the trail is a one-way hike, you will need transportation to get back to the visitor center.
Hidden Lake Overlook Trail
This is a popular trail in Glacier National Park as it is a very moderate hike that can be completed in under 2 hours. Walking on the trail, you will pass through grassy meadows and arrive at a vantage point overlooking Hidden Lake.
The trail combines a paved path, a boardwalk, and a dirt road. Bighorn sheep and bears are often spotted in the area.
Camping in the Park
In Glacier National Park, you can only camp in the designated campgrounds. The park has 13 campgrounds with more than a thousand campsites. Most of these sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, Fish Creek Campground and St. Mary Campground can be reserved in advance. The three best camping spots in the park include Many Glacier Campground, Apgar Campground, and St. Mary Campground, whereas Apgar and St. Mary are the only two campgrounds open in winter.
Many Glacier Campground has one group site, and you can book your slot on a first-come, first-serve basis. You will find many walking trails near the campground that provide exhilarating views of the landscape. The campground has 41 sites and is located near Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, where you can access a hot shower, laundry services, and food.
Apgar Campground is the largest one in the park and is also the most crowded. The amenities include running water and access to stores, gift shops, and restaurants. You can book RV and tent sites on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Staying at the St. Mary Campground means you can access many scenic hiking trails and breathtaking sunset views over the lake. Moreover, there are some dramatic panoramic views of East Flattop, Singleshot, and Red Eagle Mountains that you wouldn’t want to miss. The campground has running showers, flushing toilets, and a camp store.
Camping Options Near the Park
Many camping spots near Glacier National Park include Mountain View RV Park and Swan Lake Trading Post & Campground. Mountain View RV Park is the closest to the National Park as it is only 20 miles away. This campground is pet friendly and is open year-round with online booking.
Grinnell Glacier Overlook
Grinnell Glacier is one of the remaining glaciers in the park and can be viewed from the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. As you hike towards the overlook, you will witness plenty of scenic views of the rugged peaks. Only experienced hikers choose to visit this overlook as the path is quite long and challenging due to its elevation.
The hike to Iceberg Lake follows the 19 Mile Creek route, something only experienced hikers will attempt. The trail starts with a steep climb and then turns into a moderate climb. As you move towards the lake, you will cross alpine meadows full of wildflowers. The lush meadow along the lake is popular with many bears, deer, elk, and moose. Unfortunately, swimming in the lake is not allowed due to its freezing temperature.
St. Mary Lake
St. Mary Lake is located on the east side of Glacier National Park in Montana and is the second-largest lake in the area. The lake is used for swimming, fishing, and recreational boating. The walk to St. Mary Lake is also famous among visitors who want to enjoy the views of Jackson Glacier and Wild Goose Island. The hike is very easy; therefore, it can get crowded often.
This is another large lake in the park filled with glacial waters and is famous for kayaking and canoeing. The lake is 8 miles long, and its still waters make it a perfect reflecting surface, creating incredible illusions. If you want to experience the lake with fewer people, it is better to take the hiking trail to the backcountry camping spot.
If you are traveling by car and only have a short amount of time, you should visit the Logan Pass. The area is easily accessible by car, which is why it is always bustling with tourists, and finding a parking spot can be tricky. To have the best views, visit Logan Pass in the early morning when the sun is shining on the mountainsides. Early morning visits are also great for wildlife viewing in the area.
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