In Glacier National Park, the weather can be unpredictable in the summer and figuring what to pack for your trip can be a challenge. Unlike other National Parks to the south, this park can see snowfall during most months of the year. You could find yourself in freezing temperatures at any time during the year as well.
Don’t worry, though! This amazing park is one of our favorites, and with a little planning you’ll be more than prepared for your trip.
Here are a few of the “must pack” items that we think you’ll need when planning a trip to Glacier National Park in the summertime.
Many Glacier Hotel
HIKING AND EXPLORING EQUIPMENT FOR GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
- Footwear: If you are heading to Glacier National Park in the summer, it’s likely that you are going to be doing some day hikes, or at least hiking to some overlooks. Of course, there are a ton of hikes that are incredible, so it really is a “must do” when traveling to the park. For planning purposes, you should count on the trails being wet and potentially snow-covered, even through July. When we hiked the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail and the Iceberg Lake Trail, there was quite a bit of snow in parts, and it was quite slippery. Make sure you select shoes that have good grip and are waterproof.
Hiking the Iceberg Lake Trail in Glacier National Park
- Backpack: When taking your day trip, you are guaranteed to find yourself walking around for a bit. As the park gets especially crowded in the summertime, you may end up having to walk several hundred yards from your car to where you are going, even if it’s just to a visitor center or an overlook. Additionally, if you end up taking a shuttle or going on a day hike, you’ll want to have your essentials with you. Make sure you select a backpack that is comfortable, as you’ll be wearing it a lot! Our favorite backpacks are from Osprey. They have a great selection of packs with just the right number of compartments and storage.
- Microspikes: Though we didn’t end up bringing ours on our trip, we wished we did. Microspikes really help improve grip on the snow and ice (which is present even in July!). If you end up heading to Glacier National Park in May or June, you’re going to want to bring them. We wear them all the time at home in New Hampshire and they really help to give you confidence when hiking. An example of some solid microspikes can be found at Amazon.
PROTECTING YOURSELF AGAINST THE ELEMENTS
- Bear Spray: When hiking on our relatively short day-hikes, we ended up coming across quite a bit of bear sign and even saw several bears. While we never felt threatened (they were in the distance), we were very happy that we carried bear spray with us. Don’t rely on other hikers-make sure you have one person in your group carrying the bear spray, and stay together! We picked up our bear spray at the Logan Pass Visitor Center. You can also purchase it online before your trip. Read the directions before you head out on your adventures, though, so you can be prepared to use it if you need it!
- Bug Spray: Bugs can get pretty gnarly in the warmer summer months. Bug spray is a must. We found that we didn’t need to use Deet for the bugs, but rather used the organic Yaya Mosquito Ban.
- Sunscreen: Many of the hikes in Glacier National Park are exposed, and we ended up getting a burn during one of our day hikes. Sunscreen is a must!
- Jacket: We needed jackets on every morning in our trip to Glacier National Park in July. We didn’t need anything heavy, but an extra, lightweight layer worked out well.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK MAPS AND PLANNING GUIDES
- Maps: We found the maps, newspaper and general information from the National Park Service to be very good. However, we really recommend bringing additional maps with you on your trip. We tend to like to know more about our hike than just where to start and the distance. A good map will tell you landmarks along the way, where the steep parts of the trails are, etc. For this, we highly recommend the National Geographic map for Glacier National Park. These maps are waterproof and easy to read. We use them frequently when hiking and even just when driving around the area.
- Glacier National Park Itinerary / Guide: One of our top-selling guides is for Glacier National Park. Our downloadable .pdf helps shortcut your planning for Glacier. We rank the top hikes to go on, the best places to stop, where to stay, what to do before you go to Glacier and what else to do while you are in the area.
- Planning Books: You have probably guessed that we love to consume information about National Parks before we travel. The great things about books is that you can read them whenever you don’t have access to the internet. And be prepared-in Glacier National Park, internet service is essentially non-existent. The books that we recommend are from Fodor’s. We’ve been using them for years, and our go-to book is Fodor’s Complete Guide to the National Parks of the American West. These give you information about lodging and also what to do in the area. This book is large, so you won’t want to carry it with you while you are hiking. It’s great to have in the car, especially if you have some extra time or find yourself needing to change your plans due to the weather.
- Hiking Guides: There are many hiking guides. Our itineraries give you great info and help you decide what hikes to go on, but if you are interested in detailed hiking information, then a book like the Falcon Guide to day hiking in Glacier National Park is for you. These guides are great, no matter what skill level you are at.
OTHER MUST-HAVE ITEMS TO PACK
In addition to the special items above, we also recommend packing the following, no matter what time of year:
- First-aid kit: A compact first-aid kit that fits in your backpack is perfect. Make sure you bring one, and then you’ll never have to use it!
- Camera: At least make sure you have a phone to bring with you. Photos from Glacier National Park are amazing. Take photos in the highest resolution possible so you can make great memories after the trip!
FURTHER INFORMATION ON GLACIER NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- We cover things to do in Glacier National Park, Glacier maps, great hiking and places to stop and stay in our detailed 16+ page itinerary for Glacier National Park.
- Our extensive blog on 10 Reasons Why You’ll Love Glacier National Park is full of pictures and must-see places in Glacier National Park. It is packed full of information on Glacier.
- We hiked the Iceberg Lake Trail in the Many Glacier area, and covered it in our blog post, Hiking the Iceberg Lake Trail. We also cover Hiking the Avalanche Lake Trail and the Trail of the Cedars. Both are great family hikes!
- Our son, Andrew, wrote up his thoughts on Glacier National Park in his post: Ask Andrew: Glacier National Park.