Glacier National Park (Montana)
Updated: Jan 3, 2019
Glacier National Park is full of massive mountains, teaming waterfalls, and hundreds of lakes that are perfectly nestled into the northwest corner of Montana. Scientists recommend visitors plan their trips to Glacier National Park before 2030, when they estimate the last of the park's remaining glaciers will have melted, so make sure to go before Glacier loses its glaciers!
There is no shortage of adventure in the park, and you could spend a lifetime exploring its 700 miles of breathtaking trails. In 1995, the park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. Hiking through the park you'll be surrounded by aspen, fir and spruce trees. If you're lucky you might be visited by one of the many animals the calls the park home, including: grizzlies, wolverine, bighorn sheep, moose, elk, badger, and many birds.
Visitors who are flying in will most likely travel to Kalispell, MT and stay in one of the nearby towns or at a campground near the park. Renting a car is highly recommended if you're staying outside the park, but shuttles to trail heads do operate during the summer-season, which might be preferred as parking can be competitive / near impossible to find.
Best Time to Go
The summer is the busiest season, with lots of opportunities for adventure (hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, etc) but I chose to visit in the fall (early October) when there would be fewer tourists, and it was absolutely beautiful, with mountainsides turning gold right before our eyes. If you choose to visit during the "off-season," it's important to note that depending on where you're entering the park, many of the trails can be inaccessible if the main road that goes through the park (Going to the Sun Road) is closed down due to weather. Make sure to check this website before you plan your adventure for the day.
Where to Stay
Towns around the park include Whitefish, Kalispell and Bigfork. There are great hotels, lodges and airbnb opportunities in each of these areas. But visitors can also choose to stay right inside the park at either a camp ground or lodge and avoid the drive each day. Make sure you plan ahead as places book up quickly each season!
The opportunity for adventure abounds in Glacier National Park - visitors can spend their days hiking, climbing, fishing, biking, boating, or taking a nature tour with a ranger.
Best Hikes in Glacier National Park:
Grinnell Glacier Trail (7.1 miles)
Iceberg Lake Trail (9.3 miles)
Highline Trail (28.4 miles)
Avalanche Lake (5.7 miles)
Hidden Lake Overlook (2.8 miles)
The National Park Service has helpful information and maps for each of the park's regions available here.