10 Reasons Why You’ll Fall in Love with Glacier National Park – Just Go Travel Studios

10 Reasons Why You’ll Fall in Love with Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park Montana

In 2017, Glacier National Park had more than 3.3 million visitors, making 2017 its busiest year in the park’s 108-year history. Considering that large sections of the park were closed in August and September due to the Sprague Fire, this record number is remarkable!

Although Glacier National Park is open year-round, much of the park is only accessible between late June/early July and September. Between October and June, most trails and many park roads are snow covered. And, it isn’t uncommon for the popular Going-to-the-Sun Road to be closed until late June, or even July in a heavy snow year!

“Summer” in Glacier is marked by the opening of Logan Pass at Going-to-the-Sun Road’s summit. After a late June opening in 2017, park visits peaked, and Glacier National Park received over a million visitors in the month of July alone!

Moving beyond the stats, Glacier National Park, also known as the “Crown of the Continent”, is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. This spectacular region in northwest Montana offers alpine glaciers, high mountain peaks, an abundance of wildlife, waterfalls, pristine glacial lakes, alpine meadows and so much more! Who wouldn’t want to visit?!

This past July, we spent three days in Glacier National Park. A few days is hardly enough time to see the whole park, and we are certain we need to return! Glacier is so larger that many people visit one section at a time. In fact, you could easily spend weeks in the park trying to cover all of them and never run out of things to see and do! Glacier IS busy, as I am sure you have heard; but, it is most definitely worth taking the time to plan ahead, rise early and, at times, deal with the crowds to see this amazing park. Glacier had us even before we drove through the entrance gates, and I am certain it will capture your heart, too!

I don’t think most people need any convincing to visit Glacier National Park--it is likely already on your bucket list. It is no secret that the glaciers are shrinking rapidly, and everyone wants to see them before they are gone. However, there are so many other reasons why we know you’ll fall for Glacier. Already been or have no interest in reasons? Then, just check out the stunning photos from our trip!

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

 

Glacier National Park Itinerary 

 

There are a ton of great hikes and things to do in Glacier National Park, which are is covered in detail in our 16+ page itinerary for Glacier National Park.

 

 

1) HIKER'S PARADISE

With over 700 miles of trails to explore, Glacier National Park has something for hikers of every ability—short nature walks, day hikes, ranger-led hikes and backcountry treks.

EASY HIKES

If you’re looking for an easy, family friendly hike, try Trail of the Cedars. For those staying in West Glacier or on the western side of the park, Trail of the Cedars is a great trail to start with since it is less than a mile long.  We stopped early in the morning to stretch our legs before our Hidden Lake hike, and it was a great warm-up! This loop which winds through an ancient red cedar and western hemlock forest is part boardwalk (wheelchair-accessible) and part dirt. Some of the trees here are more than 500 years old!

Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park

A footbridge that crosses Avalanche Creek provides a great view of the lower Avalanche Gorge, one of the highlights of Trail of the Cedars. However, the small bridge can get crowded with photographers.

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park

Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park

For a different view of the gorge and fewer people, hike part way up the Avalanche Lake Trail. After a short, steep climb, you’ll be at the banks of the narrow gorge and can watch as the glacial water races downhill.

Avalanche Lake Trail Glacier National Park

The trailhead is located across from the Avalanche Creek Campground, 5.5 miles east of Lake McDonald Lodge. Due to the popularity of this trail, parking fills up fast. So, plan to visit early or late in the day.

Other easy trails include Swiftcurrent Nature Trail (Many Glacier), Sun Point Nature Trail (Saint Mary) and Running Eagle Falls (Two Medicine).

EASY/MODERATE HIKES

The trail to Avalanche Lake is a great way to extend the Trail of the Cedars hike if you are looking for something a bit longer. A 2.3-mile hike (one-way with 500 feet of elevation gain) winds upwards through the forest to beautiful Avalanche Lake. The lake is surrounded by mountains, steep cliffs and cascading waterfalls.

Going to the sun road in Glacier National Park

Trail of the cedars in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

A large, rocky beach area at the foot of the lake provides plenty of space to take a break and soak in the scenery. However, for some solitude and a different perspective of the lake and surrounding mountains, follow the shoreline trail another 0.7-miles to the head of the lake.

Glacier National Park

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park

The trailhead is located near the halfway point of Trail of the Cedars either just before or after Avalanche Gorge depending upon which direction you travel on the loop.

Other highly rated moderate trails include the hikes to Hidden Lake Overlook (Logan Pass), Saint Mary and Virginia Falls (Saint Mary) and Apikuni Falls (Many Glacier).

MODERATE/DIFFICULT HIKES

If you are an experienced hiker, Glacier has some of the most incredible terrain. Popular trails for day-hikers include the Highline Trail (Logan Pass), Siyeh Pass Trail (eastern GTTSR Road), Iceberg Lake Trail and/or Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail and Grinnell Glacier Trail (in Many Glacier). Hikes like the Dawson-Pitamakan traverse (Two Medicine) will satisfy those looking for a backcountry adventure!

Highline Trail in Glacier National Park

Highline Trail

Iceberg Lake

Iceberg Lake

Trail maps are available at visitor centers and entrance stations. Be sure to check on trail closings and postings before you head out and be prepared for changing weather conditions.

Another great resource for hiking trail information is hikinginglacier.com with comprehensive information on hiking more than 60 trails in the park.

2) GOING-TO-THE-SUN ROAD

Even if you only have one day in Glacier National Park, driving on Going-to-the-Sun Road is a must-do. With breathtaking views around every curve, this engineering marvel is easily one of the country’s most scenic drives.

The 50-mile drive connects Lake McDonald on the west side of Glacier with St. Mary in the east. The drive from the west side starts out in the shadowy forests and climbs along sheer cliffs yielding stunning views of the valleys below. Along the way it winds past numerous overlooks, cascading waterfalls and trailheads.

Glacier National Park

Going to the sun road in Glacier National Park

There are so many great stopping points along the way. Be sure to stop as often as you can and take photos because you never know when the weather will change! A couple highlights along the way are Bird Woman Falls overlook and the Weeping Wall, where a waterfall splashes onto the road. When driving from east to west, you may want to close your car windows. We saw a few cars using it as an opportunity for a car wash!  

Bird Woman falls

Bird Woman Falls

Weeping Wall in Glacier National Park

Weeping Wall

The road reaches its highest point (6,646 feet) at Logan Pass. This area provides stunning views of both sides of the Continental Divide and is frequented by mountain goats, marmots and bighorn sheep. The Logan Pass Visitor Center is a popular parking area from which to access the Hidden Lake and Highline Trails.

Goat near Logan Pass in Glacier National Park

Bearhat Mountain in Logan Pass

Not long after leaving Logan Pass and continuing the trek east, the vegetation changes since the climate is much drier in the shadow of the Continental Divide. At a minimum, we recommend stops at the Jackson Glacier overlook, St. Mary Lake overlook and the Wild Goose Island viewpoint. If you have more time, continue reading our reasons to visit Glacier to discover more details about some of our favorite hikes along Going-to-the-Sun Road!

Logan Pass in Glacier National Park

Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park

 Things to know about Going-to-the-Sun Road:

  • Going-to-the-Sun Road is typically not open in its entirety until mid to late June due to heavy snowfall. Be sure to check the status if you have plans to travel in early summer. During some heavy snow years, the road didn’t open until July. We planned our summer trip for mid-July since driving Going-to-the-Sun Road was a priority.
  • This drive is popular and is susceptible to delays in the summer. To avoid park entrance lines, traffic jams and parking problems in the popular lots and overlooks, take the road early in the morning or late in the evening.
  • Vehicle size is restricted to under 21 feet long, 10 feet high and 8 feet wide between Avalanche Creek Campground and Sun Point. If your vehicle exceeds these limits or you’d rather just ride and take in the sights, you can take a shuttle (from the Apgar or St. Mary Visitor Center) or reserve a spot on a Red Jammer Bus Tour.
  • Fuel up before you enter the park! There are no gas stations on this drive or anywhere inside the park.
  • We suggest taking an entire day (if not more!) to explore Going-to-the-Sun Road going both directions. It can be driven one way in two hours, but that would be a mistake! If you are lucky enough to drive this road, take in the views and get on your hiking shoes!

We highly recommend purchasing the GyPSy Guide App for Going-to-the-Sun Road.

3) LOGAN PASS

Yes, Logan Pass is part of the Going-to-the-Sun Road; however, it really deserves to be its own reason to visit Glacier since it is much more than just a pitstop on the scenic road. At 6,646 feet, Logan Pass sits on the Continental Divide and is the highest point in the park accessible by car.

Just Go Travel Studios at Glacier National Park

The drive up here is amazing, but Logan Pass is like a different world! Wildflowers carpet hillsides of alpine meadows, and snowfields persist into the summer.

Logan Pass Wildflowers in Glacier National Park

Snow near Logan Pass in Glacier National Park

Logan Pass is also where the popular Hidden Lake and Highline Trails begin. If you don’t have much time, the 1.4-mile hike (2.8-mile round trip) to the Hidden Lake Overlook is a must-do. The hike is very popular for good reason—the views are stunning, AND the area is frequented by mountain goats and bighorn sheep!

The Hidden Lake Overlook Trail leaves from the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Don’t be fooled by what you may have read. Though there is less than 500 feet in elevation gain, this is NOT an easy hike, especially if you are not prepared. The beginning of this hike is a steady incline, part of which includes a series of wooden steps and the rest dirt trail.

Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in Glacier National Park

During our visit in mid-July, much of the hike involved crossing snowfields that covered the trail; and, one snow-covered section on a steep rocky ledge required single-file travel. We were shocked to see people attempting it in sneakers and sandals. Melting snow creates an unstable, slushy terrain. We recommend hiking boots if you like dry feet; and, hiking poles would be helpful this time of year as well.

Snowy trail on the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in Glacier National Park

Once you make it to the overlook, you’ll be treated to views of Hidden Lake backed by the impressive Bearhat Mountain.

Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in Glacier National Park

If you are looking for a more challenging hike and the trail is open, we highly recommend continuing down to the shores of Hidden Lake, which adds 1.2-miles and a 780-foot drop to the one-way trip. [We’ll cover the entire trail and all the exciting details in a future blog. Stay tuned!]

Brearhat Mountain and Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park

Just Go Travel Studios at Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park

The Highline Trail is a bucket list hike for most avid hikers and ranks among the best high-altitude hikes in the world. Although we didn’t have time to hike the entire 7.6-miles (to The Loop bus stop where you can take the shuttle back to your car), we couldn’t leave the park without hiking even a small portion of the trail! The Highline Trail starts across the street from the Logan Pass Visitor Center; and, from the very beginning, the views are amazing! Within the first few minutes, the trail narrows, and you’ll encounter a cable strung to a rock wall with a sheer drop-off to the left.

Highline trail in Glacier National Park

We probably didn’t walk much more than a mile before turning back, but we enjoyed the breathtaking views from high above the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Since it was getting late in the afternoon and we were headed to Many Glacier for the night, we reluctantly returned to our car at Logan Pass and vowed to return one day!

Highline Trail in Glacier National Park

[NOTE: If you’d rather not do the entire hike in one day or have plans to extend the hike, you can reserve a spot to stay overnight at the Granite Park Chalet. Reservations for 2019 open in January.]

If the crowds at Logan Pass aren’t your thing, travel just a couple miles east to Siyeh Bend, where a few less traveled hiking options can be accessed from the Piegan Pass trailhead.

Things to know about Logan Pass:

  • This parking lot is usually full by 8 am, so go early or late in the day. Otherwise, bring your patience and look for people heading to their cars.
  • This is the highest point in the park (accessible by vehicle), so weather changes quickly and it can be very cold even in summer. The morning we hiked to Hidden Lake, most of us were so cold we changed into pants. However, we were all hot by the time we returned to the car. Be prepared for anything!
  • I already mentioned appropriate footwear and the snowfields that can linger into the summertime, but I am going to say it again because we saw SO MANY people slipping and falling. This IS NOT a sneaker or flip flop hike. It can be snowy, muddy and slushy into the middle of the summer.

4) MANY GLACIER

Many people consider the Many Glacier area to be the heart of the park. It certainly captured our hearts! The 12-mile drive that enters Glacier National Park from the northeast side travels along Sherburne Lake for several miles before reaching a magnificent glacially carved valley surrounded by mountains.

Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park

Many Glacier Hotel, where we stayed for two nights, sits on the banks of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park

 

The scenery from the hotel is breathtaking, but we sure do hope you came to this area to hike—the trail system in this part of the park is amazing! We easily could have spent an entire week in the Many Glacier area and hiked a different trail each day. (Pete and I intend to go back and hike them all one day!)

Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park

The most popular trails in Many Glacier are Grinnell Glacier and the Iceberg Lake Trail. Grinnell Glacier (10.5-mile RT or 7.2-mile RT using concession boat from hotel/strenuous) is an extremely popular hike for good reason. Of the original 150 glaciers, there are only 25 left in the park, and Grinnell Glacier is one of the most accessible. We had hoped to do this hike but dangerous snowfields at the time of our visit resulted in a closure beyond Grinnell Lake. I was determined to see the glacier or save the hike for another visit; so, we opted to hike to Iceberg Lake instead. It did not disappoint!

The hike to Iceberg Lake is a moderately strenuous 9.7-mile round trip with 1200 feet in elevation gain (the steepest part is the first half mile of switchbacks). After the initial climb, the trail is more gradual. This hike shares its first 2.7 miles with the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail. We covered this hike in detail in our post on Hiking the Iceberg Lake Trail in Glacier National Park.

Iceberg Lake Trail in Glacier National Park

Just after Ptarmigan Falls, the trail splits. Follow signs to Iceberg Lake. This trail provides amazing views of nearby peaks which include Mount Wilbur, Mount Grinnell and Swiftcurrent Mountain. Wildflowers carpet the edges of the trail through much of the summer.

Hiking to Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park

 After about 4.8 miles, you’ll reach the lake which sits at just over 6,000 in elevation. In the shadows of the surrounding cliffs, icebergs float in this frigid lake in the summertime!

Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park

Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park

Be sure to spend some time here to take in the scenery—we ate an early lunch on the shores of Iceberg Lake. Once you’ve had your fill of this amazing sight, head back the way you came. Typically out and back trails can be dull for some, but with wildflowers and views along most of the trail, we doubt you’ll get bored!

hiking to iceberg lake in Glacier National Park

Iceberg Lake is grizzly bear territory and is typically closed once the huckleberries ripen in late July through August. We didn’t see any bears on our hike in July, but they frequent the area. You’ll want to carry bear spray, make noise and stay aware of your surroundings on this hike.

The trailhead is located in the parking lot for the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in Many Glacier. Turn right off Many Glacier Road immediately after the inn and follow the road around to the back where you’ll see a trailhead sign for Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel.

 If you are looking for an easier trail located in the Many Glacier area, the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail is a 2.3-mile loop that can be taken from either Many Glacier Hotel or the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead. This mellow loop follows the shoreline of Swiftcurrent Lake. If you are looking for solitude, this is a great hike in the evening when the day hikers have left the Many Glacier area. We only saw a few other hikers while walking the loop. Just be sure to bring your bear spray!

Swiftcurrent loop trail in Glacier National Park

Swiftcurrent Nature Trail in Glacier National Park

Swiftcurrent Nature Trail in Glacier National Park

Other great hikes in the area include Cracker Lake, Apikuni Falls and Fishercap Lake/Redrock Falls. With all the options—hiking, boating, horseback riding and ranger-led programs, there’s something for everyone in the Many Glacier area!

      5) WILDLIFE

      Glacier National Park is home to hundreds of species of animals, including 71 species of mammals! If you are looking to see bears (black and grizzly), bighorn sheep, marmots, mountain goats, and moose, you are in the right place! Other species like the Canada lynx, wolverine and mountain lion are more elusive, but they call Glacier their home as well. You stand a fairly good chance of seeing wildlife, especially if you are headed to Logan Pass. However, if you are hoping to see wildlife while out hiking, here are some trails known for frequent sightings:

      Marmot in Glacier National Park

      Marmot

      Moose in Glacier National Park

      Moose

      Bighorn Sheep in Glacier National Park

      Bighorn Sheep

      Black Bear in Glacier National Park

      Black Bear

      MANY GLACIER AREA

      • Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel—bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep
      • Grinnell Glacier—bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep
      • Swiftcurrent Nature Trail—bears, moose
      • Fishercap Lake/Redrock Falls—moose
      • Cracker Lake—bears, mountain goats, marmots

      LOGAN PASS AREA

      • Highline Trail—mountain goats, bighorn sheep, marmots
      • Hidden Lake/Hidden Lake Overlook—mountain goats, marmots, bighorn sheep, grizzly bear (down by the lake)
      • Piegan Pass—ptarmigan, mountain goats

      Bear Warning Sign in Glacier National Park

      Things to Know about Staying Safe and Keeping Wildlife Wild:

      • Please respect the animals and their need for undisturbed space. Although some spend parts of the year in developed areas and near roads where they are easy to spot, enjoy them from a distance. Approaching them too close can disturb their feeding patterns and normal travel routes.
      • Visitors must stay at least 300 feet away from bears and wolves and at least 75 feet from other animals. Use binoculars or a zoom lens to get a closer look. Keep the animal’s line of travel clear and move away if wildlife approaches you.
      • If you are headed out on a hike, carry bear spray and know how to use it. It is best to hike in groups, make noise and not let children wander ahead. The one time we were separated briefly down by Hidden Lake (my older son was watching people fly-fish not more than 200 feet away), a grizzly bear came out of the brush by the stream. Thankfully, we were able to reconnect and retreat safely up the mountainside because the bear was more interested in feeding on fish than people that day! After that, the kids fully understood the need to stay close!
      • Report all bear sightings and encounters to a ranger. Trails in Glacier close when bear activity in an area is high—notably so when fish are spawning or huckleberries are in season. Check trail closures and postings before heading out on a hike.

      6) WATERFALLS

      If you like chasing waterfalls, then Glacier National Park has you covered with more than 200 waterfalls scattered throughout the park! Icy, cold water streams from melting snow fields, often cascading over and through massive rock walls. Some of the waterfalls in the lower elevations dry up after the spring thaw, but many continue to run well into the summer. With so many accessible waterfalls, you may wonder which ones are worth the hike. I’ve included some information on a few of our favorite waterfall hikes.

      The hikes to St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls are both worth a visit. If you only have time for one, the hike to St. Mary Falls is about 2-miles round trip. Though the Reynold’s Creek fire in 2015 scorched the area that leads to the falls, this hike now yields views of once obscured mountain peaks and St. Mary Lake.

      Hike to St. Mary Falls in Glacier National Park

      Hike to St. Mary Falls in Glacier National Park

      Colorful wildflowers cover the once blackened earth and line the trail that leads to the bridge spanning St. Mary River and the beautiful St. Mary Falls.

      River near St. Mary Falls in Glacier National Park

      Saint Mary Falls in Glacier National Park

      If you have more time after visiting St. Mary Falls, consider following the trail uphill for another half mile to reach Virginia Falls (RT length for both hikes is 3.6-miles). The trail follows Virginia Creek with other smaller falls along the way.

      Near St. Mary Falls in Glacier National Park

      Long before reaching the falls, you can hear the thunderous sound as Virginia Falls drop more than 50 feet off a sheer cliff face. Cross the bridge and feel the spray from the waterfalls—so refreshing on a hot day! This was our favorite waterfall in the park!

      Virginia Falls in Glacier National Park

      Virginia Falls in Glacier National Park

      The Saint Mary Falls trailhead is located just off Going-to-the-Sun Road towards the eastern side of the park. You can also park at Sunrift Gorge to extend the hike and include Baring Falls.

       

      Although we didn’t set out to hike to Ptarmigan Falls alone (5.4 miles with 700 feet elevation gain), it is a beautiful waterfall area along the way to Iceberg Lake. This area is heavily forested, so it is hard to get a full view of the falls. However, the hike also offers outstanding views of the Many Glacier Valley. If you’re up for it, we highly recommend hiking the additional 2 miles to Iceberg Lake.

      The trailhead is located in the parking lot for the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in Many Glacier. Turn right off Many Glacier Road immediately after the inn and follow the road around to the back where you’ll see a trailhead sign for Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel.

        

      Other notable waterfall hikes include:

      • Many Glacier area: Apikuni Falls, Redrock Falls (3.6-mile hike includes Fishercap Lake)
      • Two Medicine area: Appistoki Falls, Aster Falls, Running Eagle Falls, Rockwell Falls and Twin Falls
      • Mary Lake area: Baring Falls
      • McDonald Lake area: McDonald Falls

      Notable waterfalls along the edge of GTTS Road:

      Weeping Wall in Glacier National Park

      • Bird Woman Falls Overlook
      • Weeping Wall

      7) WILDFLOWERS

      Once the snow melts, alpine meadows and avalanche slopes are aglow with color. Glacier National Park is home to nearly 1,000 different species of flowering plants! Flowers in lower elevations may bloom as early as April or May, while those in the higher elevations have peak blooms mid-summer, depending upon how much snow falls each winter. Since winters can be harsh and long in this part of Montana, wildflowers have evolved to sprout, bloom and set seed in a very short period of time.

      Glacier National Park

      Wildflowers such as Glacier lilies, purple asters and beargrass grow in the pristine environment. Fields of Glacier lilies and beargrass carpet the subalpine landscape and can be found on both sides of the park. During the late summer, purple asters can be found in abundance in meadows on the east side of the park.

      Beargrass in Glacier National Park

      Beargrass, perhaps the most iconic and photographed wildflower in Glacier, is actually a member of the lily family though its name suggests otherwise. Though beargrass sightings are common in the summer along Going-to-the-Sun Road, individual beargrass plants produce a flower only once every 5-7 years!

      Beargrass in Glacier National Park

      Wildflowers can be found throughout the park, from the ones that begin popping through thin snow cover in the spring to those that bloom all the way until the first significant snowfall. Some of the best areas for seeing wildflowers include the Logan Pass area, St. Mary and Virginia Falls Trail, along the road just inside the park near the St. Mary entrance and the Iceberg Lake Trail.

      8) LAKES

      Worn out from all the amazing hiking or just prefer to be lakeside? Spend an afternoon at one of Glacier National Park’s many lakes. There are 130 named lakes and more than 600 total; so, there numerous opportunities for fishing, boating and swimming (if you dare to brave the frigid waters!). While the trails may be busy, it’s not difficult to find a quiet spot along most lakes. Additionally, canoes and kayaks can be rented at Apgar, Two Medicine and Many Glacier and provide an excellent way to see the lake from a different perspective.

      One of the most popular lakes to visit in the park is Lake McDonald, which is accessible year-round. At ten miles long and 472 feet deep, it is Glacier National Park’s biggest lake.  Located on the west side of the park, the lake fills a basin carved out by glaciers and is enclosed by mountains on three sides. While in the area, be sure to make it to the shoreline of the lake. The colorful pebbles that grade the shores are photo worthy! Also stop by the Lake McDonald Lodge for dining, shopping, boat tours or just to take in the impressive architecture.

      Lake Mcdonald in Glacier National Park

      Saint Mary Lake may not get the same amount of attention as Lake McDonald, but the west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road provides magnificent views of the second largest lake in Glacier. On a calm day, the lake mirrors the sharp, granite peaks that line Saint Mary Valley. The lake’s most recognizable feature is Wild Goose Island and its viewpoint is a photographer favorite at sunrise and sunset.

      Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park

      Swiftcurrent Lake is the centerpiece of the Many Glacier area and the Many Glacier Hotel sits on its eastern shore. The mountains and glaciers to the west of the lake provide a stunning backdrop and the views from all sides of the lake are breathtaking. Like in Lake McDonald, there are many options here—lodging, dining, shopping, boat tours and rentals and hiking trails amongst other things. Additionally, Swiftcurrent Lake provides access to Lake Josephine—often empty of boats except for the tour boat that runs from one end to the other. Rental boats can be carried from one lake to another via a 400-yard portage if you are up for the challenge!

      Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park

      Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park

      Although we didn’t get to this area, Bowman and Kintla Lakes are two magnificent fjordlike lakes that reside in the northwest corner of Glacier. If you are looking for more solitude, this might be the area of the park for you! Or, try Two Medicine Lake in the southeast corner. This area is a much drier, open landscape and can be very windy. Far less crowded than other areas of the park, this one also offers boating and numerous hiking trails.

       

      Glacier Park Boat Company gives tours on five lakes—Lake McDonald, Swiftcurrent and Lake Josephine, Two Medicine Lake and St. Mary Lake. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at Apgar, Two Medicine and Many Glacier.

      9) INTERNATIONAL PEACE PARK

      Almost everyone has heard of Glacier National Park. However, what many don’t realize is that in 1932 it was combined with Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta, Canada) to form the world’s first International Peace Park. If you have time and passports, it is a nice day trip from the Many Glacier or St. Mary areas. We were continuing on to visit the rest of the Canadian Rockies, so Waterton Lakes was our first stop in Canada.

       

      Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

       

      Unfortunately, the 2017 Kenow Fire consumed 38% of the park and impacted 80% of the park’s hiking trails. However, there are a few trails that remain open with others likely to follow. We enjoyed hiking to Bertha Falls and spending some time down by Cameron Bay.

       

      Hiking in Waterton Lakes National Park

      Waterton Lakes national Park

       

      The townsite of Waterton Lakes also is home to the much-photographed Prince of Wales Hotel and has some great places to eat and shop.

       

      Waterton Lakes national Park

      Waterton Lakes National park

       

      For those who have more time, a tour boat from the Waterton townsite travels to the remote American end of Upper Waterton Lake several times a day in the summer. Backpackers with passports can hike from here and cross the border into Glacier National Park. Trails from the Goat Haunt Ranger Station lead to various area of Glacier National Park. For the adventurous, a boat taxi can be taken across Upper Waterton Lake to reach the Crypt Lake trailhead. This hike is proclaimed to be one of the most stunning hikes in the Canadian Rockies!

      10) PLACE TO UNWIND AND UNPLUG

      Above all, Glacier National Park is a great place to reconnect with nature and family (or maybe make some new friends in the backcountry if you prefer to go it alone!). Time to explore the wild and wonderful spaces in places such as Glacier National Park is good for the soul and helps keep things in perspective.

      Glacier National Park

       

      "Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity." - John Muir

      "Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread." - Edward Abbey

       

      Glacier National Park

      You can’t possibly need more reasons to plan a trip to Glacier National Park. Just GO! This park was the 30th national park we visited and easily one of our favorites—if not THE FAVORITE! We’ve been to a lot of beautiful places in the past few years with our family, but this one is even more beautiful than you can imagine. Glacier National Park’s diverse landscape has so much to offer, it will leave you wanting to return for more!

       

       

       

      MORE TIME

      If you have more time, try exploring the more remote areas of the park. Both the northwest and southeast corners are off the main track. The Two Medicine area in the southeast corner offers access to Two Medicine Lake and Cut Bank. Cut Bank offers a primitive campground, hiking trails and little else in the way of amenities but is perfect for those looking for extreme solitude. Two Medicine Lake has a campground and campstore with basic amenities, boat rentals and scenic boat tours depart from its shores in the summertime.

      Or head to the North Fork area of Glacier to visit Polebridge, Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake. The Polebridge Mercantile, just outside the park’s borders, has been around since the early 1900s, and visitors travel miles down a bumpy, dirt road just to sample the pastries. Beyond Polebridge, another unpaved drive leads east to Bowman Lake where swimming kayaking is popular. Driving further north from Polebridge leads to the more remote Kintla Lake.

      OTHER TIPS WHEN HIKING AND EXPLORING GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
      • This one is worth repeating--carry bear spray and know how to use it! Glacier is grizzly bear country. Hike in groups and make noise along the trail.
      • Since there are only a few months of the year where much of the park can be accessed, the crowds in the parking lots can be quite challenging. We recommend waking up early and prioritizing your most desired hike early in the day.
      • Avoid the temptation to park on the side of the road-it’s common to see lines of ticketed cars who didn’t heed this advice.
      • Make sure you are all gassed up prior to driving on the Going-to-the-Sun Road or heading into Many Glacier, as there aren’t any gas stations in these parts of the park.

       

       

       

      FURTHER INFORMATION ON GLACIER NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS

      Custom, Vintage style posters from Just Go Travel Studios
      We create custom, vintage-style travel posters with personalized wording, from your photo!

          OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION ON GLACIER NATIONAL PARK

          Glacier National Park



                   

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