With a jagged mountain peak, alpine glaciers, glistering waterfalls, and the wildlife that greets you every turn, Glacier National Park is a joy to explore!
If you’re looking for a perfect bucket list of things to do in Glacier National Park, you’ve found the right guide. In this guide, we’ll share the best things to do in Glacier National Park with some tips on how to make your visit a memorable one.
|Park||Glacier National Park|
|Things To Do||Picnic, Drive, Discover|
|Hotels Near Glacier National Park||West Glacier Adobe house, Cedar Creek Lodge & more.|
|Price||$15 per person|
|Camping Location||Multiple Locations|
Introduction to Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is one of the world’s most spectacular alpine wilderness areas. Spanning over two mountain ranges, it preserves one of the world’s most amazing ecosystems.
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With more than a million acres of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, rugged peaks, and glacier-carved valleys, it is no surprise that it is called the “Crown of the Continent”.
Located in Northwestern Montana, Glacier National Park is one of the most diverse landscapes on earth and a paradise for nature lovers.
Glacier National Park offers plenty of free-ranger activities like guided hikes and stargazing events ideal for all ages and draws over 3 million visitors every year.
History of Glacier National Park
The evidence of human inhabitation in the area dates back to 10,000 years ago.
The area was inhabited by several Native American tribes and by the time first European explorers came to the area, it was dominated by Blackfeet Indians in the eastern slopes, and Salish and Kootenai Indians in the western valleys.
The Europeans were soon followed by miners and settlers looking for land. In 1981, the Great Northern Railway was built which allowed a greater number of people to enter and settle in the area.
In the late 1800s, George Bird Grinnell, an influential leader started convincing the government to turn the place into a national park.
In 1910, his efforts were rewarded and the bill was signed to establish the Glacier as the country’s 10th National Park.
Things to do in Glacier National Park
While hiking is one of the most popular activities, there are plenty of other things to do in Glacier National Park:
Set up a Picnic at Lake MacDonald
Lake McDonald is the largest and unarguably one of the most beautiful lakes in Glacier National Park.
Famous for its crystal-clear waters, and thousands of colorful and smooth rocks stretching for miles along the shoreline, it is often one of the first stops for visitors coming from the west glacier.
It’s a great place to set up a picnic, take some great pictures, or stop by the rustic Lake McDonald Lodge, a historic treasure built in the 1910s on the banks of the water.
Discover Two Medicine Area
Two Medicine Area on the Glacier’s Southeastern corner harbors a less-traveled wonderland which makes it an ideal location to avoid dense crows with sacrificing the captivating views.
Despite having less visited than other parts of the glacier, Two Medicine is sure to impress for its dramatic views, astounding waters, and reflective lakes.
The hiking trails of Two Medicine are far less clogged on day hikes than others. Several hiking trails lead to the stunning waterfalls while some ascent to the panoramic view of the region below.
Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road
No visit to Glacier National Park is complete without venturing around the Going-to-the-Sun-Road. It is not only the most scenic road trip in Glacier National Park but also one of the most scenic drives you can experience in America.
This 50-mile road twists and turns through the mountains and the Continental Drive, and takes you through the entire park within a day.
During the drive, you’ll pass through varying terrains, and stopping points to click pictures and enjoy the wilderness.
Take a Trail of the Cedars
As one of Glacier National Park’s best hiking trails, Cedar really takes you somewhere else. This one-mile gravel trail is the ideal hiking path to explore the park’s wilderness and woody smells.
The trail cuts its way through the thick forest of cedar trees along a raised boardwalk making it really easy to navigate.
It is a loop trail which means you can walk in either direction you want. It is the only trail in the park with wheelchair-accessible hiking paths.
Rafting on the Flathead River
Situated in the northwestern part of Glacier National Park, the Flathead River is a popular spot for whitewater rafting.
If you’re an adrenaline junky, plan a half or full-day trip to the flathead river and you are surely gonna love it.
Every passenger on the raft gets to enjoy the magnificent view of the Glacier National Park’s natural beauty. You can either take a guided tour or get your own permits to paddle the river as a self-guided trip.
Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park
The best time to visit the Glacier National Park is from July through mid-September as the roads are fully open and you can fully access all the major attractions.
Though these months are the peak months due to pleasant weather conditions, it is one of the best times to go hiking and explore the wilderness.
Glacier National Park Map
The map is the most important tool for planning a vacation and makes sure security.
Here is the map of the Glacier National Park and the surrounding area highlighting all the main attractions for the park.
Download the map in pdf so you can enjoy many areas in the park with driving back and forth from each location.
5 Hotels Near Glacier National Park
If you’re looking to stay at a house or cabin close to the Glacier National Park, here are some best lodging options within the boundaries of the park:
Camping and outdoor adventure are some of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Glacier National Park as you can spend as much time as possible within the wilderness.
The Park has 13 campgrounds located in the Glacier, including Many Glacier Campground, Rising Sun Campground, Two Medicine Campground, St Mary Campground, Apgar Campground, and Fish Creek Campground.
Most of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but if you want to book ahead, reservations are available only for Many Glacier, Fish Creek, and St. Mary and campgrounds. Check out more information about camping in the park.
The weather of Glacier National Park is highly variable and can be extreme sometimes.
The temperature in the mountains fluctuates as the weather changes and especially at the higher elevations.
Warm days and cool nights are the norms in Summer with temperatures dropping to freezing point.
Hikers must be prepared to deal with a wide range of temperatures while taking a hike in the Glacier National Park.
For the current weather forecast, please check out the official weather page of the park.
Glacier National Park Fee/Pass
The entrance fee for Glacier National Park is $15 per person, while for those on a private and non-private vehicle it’s $35, valid for 7-days.
If you have a plan to come back again, purchase the specific digital pass from the Recreational government. You can also purchase a Glacier Nation Annual pass, valid for one year.
Make sure to download the digital copy of the pass on your phone as you’ll be required to show it at all the prominent locations of the park.
Checklist before Visiting Glacier National Park
Here’s are some essentials you need to pack with you to stay safe and comfortable while exploring the park:
- Synthetic layers
- Hiking Boots/ Trial runners
- First-aid kit
- Refillable water bottles
- Bear Spray/Insect repellent
How much time should I Spend in Glacier National Park?
The more time you have, the better it is as you are never going to run out of things to do even if you spend a week. But ideally, you’d need a minimum of two days at Glacier National Park.
How is the cell phone coverage in the Glacier National Park?
Only a few campgrounds including Fish Creek Campground and St Mary have some cell phone coverage, but the majority of the park doesn’t have one.
Do the Campgrounds of Glacier National Park have showers?
Only Fish Creek, St. Mary, and Apgar Campgrounds have showers for the guests. The campgrounds outside also offer shower services, but you have to check with your Campground host first.