Glacier National Park is located in Montana’s Rocky Mountains wilderness area. It stretches over an impressive 1,583 square miles of land through Montana and has peaks and valleys that meet the Canadian border.
Each year this park attracts approximately 3 million adventurers who want to experience the wonder and beauty of nature and hike, mountaineer, ski, and so much more.
How To Get to Glacier National Park
Where Is Glacier National Park?
Glacier National Park is located in the northern Rocky Mountains in Northwestern Montana and stretches into Canada. Kalispell and Missoula are the closest major cities to Glacier National Park. Glacier National Park has a unique location as it is an American national park that adjoins with a Canadian national park.
Nearest Airports to Glacier National Park
The most convenient and time-efficient way to get to Glacier National Park is to travel by airplane. The most popular and closest airport to fly into is Glacier Park International Airport (FCA), but 2 others can get you relatively close to the park.
Glacier Park International Airport (FCA)
Glacier Park International Airport is a convenient airport located in Kalispell, Montana. Flying into this airport will have you a mere 30 miles from the West Entrance of Glacier National Park.
Glacier Park International Airport has a multitude of direct flights to 16 major U.S. cities and is serviced by well-known airlines, including United, Allegiant Air, Delta, and American.
Missoula International Airport (MSO)
Missoula International Airport is another option if you are flying to visit Glacier National Park. This airport is 200 miles from the West Entrance. This airport offers nonstop flights to 14 major U.S. cities and is served by several reputable airlines such as Allegiant, American, Delta, and United.
Calgary International Airport (YYC)
Another option for flying to Glacier National Park is flying into Calgary International Airport, located in Canada.
This airport is located 280 miles from the West Entrance. Calgary is the fourth-busiest airport in Canada and serves flights to North and Central America as well as other countries around the globe. Guests who are international travelers will find this a convenient option for visiting Glacier National Park.
Calgary International Airport is serviced by many national and international airlines, including American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, and West Jet.
Glacier National Park is known as one of the prettiest drives in the U.S. You can see glaciers, incredible landscapes, and wildlife right from your car if you plan to take the road trip to Glacier.
Visitors who choose to drive to Glacier National Park will use U.S. Highway 2 and will be able to enter using the East or West Entrance. The park can also be accessed using Highway 89 or Highway 17.
Road trips in an RV are also a great way to drive to Glacier National Park. Even though RVs are permitted in the park, some roads and locations will be difficult for RVs to navigate. Be sure to keep this in mind when you plan your routes to and around the park.
Amtrak’s Empire Builder train offers daily train rides that pass alongside Glacier National Park and stop in East or West Glacier. Amtrak offers over 15 Glacier National Park rail vacation packages where passengers can enjoy a slower-paced vacation journey and breathtaking views along the way while experiencing a luxury train ride at the same time.
Glacier National Park offers free seasonal shuttle services that take visitors to many of the major attractions throughout the park. One shuttle makes multiple stops on its tour around the park, and the other is a special shuttle service for hikers and bikers.
Getting Around Glacier National Park
Driving is the best way to get around Glacier National Park, so you can explore the park at your own pace and spend as much time sightseeing as you’d like. However, several roads are seasonal and may be closed during your visit. There are also some roads that may be closed due to construction.
The shuttle service is a great way to see the park. Sit back, take in the views, and let an experienced driver take over the stress of driving through the park.
A final option for getting around Glacier National Park is to utilize one of the 2 companies that provide guided tours. Visitors can take a ride on comfortable buses and enjoy the view of the scenery while listening to the history of the park.
Whether you choose to drive your own private vehicle or access the shuttle service, Glacier National Park offers interactive and printable maps to help you plan your route.
What To See and Do in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is also known as the “Crown of the Continent” and is the dream destination of outdoor enthusiasts. This region of Montana showcases alpine glaciers, waterfalls, glacial lakes, and a wide variety of wildlife. With so much to discover and explore, Glacier National Park has something to offer every visitor.
This well-known road in the park cuts through the center of the park. Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the most popular and crowded parts of the park. Driving this road is considered one of the best things to do in the park.
A vehicle reservation for this road is required for driving through. Reservations are limited and need to be made well in advance. In addition, while the park is open year-round, Going-to-the-Sun Road is only open during the summer months. Both of these factors should be considered when planning your trip to Glacier National Park.
Going-to-the-Sun Road is 50 miles long and takes approximately 2 hours to drive, depending on the traffic. This road impressively spans the entire park.
Grinnell Glacier is a favorite of many adventurers. This hiking trail offers guests incredible views and a rigorous workout.
The trail is a little over 11 miles and has an elevation gain of 2,200 feet. It takes about 6 to 7 hours to hike this trail. The trail can be started at the official trailhead near Many Glacier Ranger Station, or you can take a boat on the Swiftcurrent Lake to Lake Josephine that will drop you off at a different starting point of the hike.
The hike is filled with wildflower meadows, rushing waterfalls, turquoise waters, and trail switchbacks. When you reach Grinnell Glacier, you will be able to take in the view of what is left of the ice flow and see how it has drastically reduced over time.
Glacier National Park’s most popular and largest lake is Lake McDonald. This lake is found in the western part of the park and is a sight to behold. Famous for its colorful pebbles and crystal-clear water, and surrounded by majestic mountains that stretch 10 miles, Lake McDonald is a place to pause and take in the natural beauty of the clear, reflective lake.
Lake McDonald is one of the most popular hiking areas and features hiking trails that reward tourists with amazing views of the park along the way.
Bottom Line: This area is also considered one of the best places to stay in the park. There is a lodge and campground area for those who want to linger in this stunning area.
Logan Pass is a favorite attraction in the park. This part of the park is the highest elevation that is reachable by car, so this area tends to become crowded quickly. Using a free shuttle and visiting early in the morning or late in the day will help you spend your time wisely, and you will be rewarded with spectacular views and a chance to see wildlife.
Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and even grizzly bears can be spotted in Logan Pass. With mountains towering and fields of wildflowers, Logan Pass is a place to disconnect and bask in the glory of nature.
It is recommended to visit this area of the park early in the morning so you can see the sunrise over the mountains. This is a magical time that is perfect for capturing the beauty.
This area also has an incredible exhibit right outside the Logan Pass Visitor Center, where adventurers can learn how animals survive in this area with their special adaptations. This exhibit is a favorite stop for guests.
The Loop is a trail in Glacier National Park that is perfect for those who want to spend the day hiking and taking in the glorious scenery. This trail is almost 4 miles in length and has a vertical climb in which Going-to-the-Sun Road and Granite Park Chalet can be accessed.
This trail is not the easiest hike, but it is well worth the journey. The beginning of the trail passes expansive burned-over forests, but as you gain elevation, you will be rewarded with great views of creeks and mountains, meadows filled with wildflowers, as well as plenty of wildlife, including mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bears, and grizzly bears.
Many Glacier is one of the most beautiful areas of Glacier National Park. This section of the park has giant snow-covered mountains, incredible waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers for visitors to see and photograph.
The trails in Many Glacier are phenomenal for taking in these stunning views. The most popular hikes in Many Glacier include Grinnell Glacier and Iceberg Lake, but there are 10 other hiking trails to choose from in this magnificent area.
Hiking in Many Glacier is not for the faint at heart, as many trails are ~10 miles round-trip, but if you are able to complete a hike, you will be handsomely rewarded with remarkable views.
There are amazing views of the gorgeous scenery, and this is also where the historic Many Glacier Hotel is located. The Many Glacier Hotel is a 5-story historic hotel that is a wonderful option for lodging or dining at one of their restaurants or shopping at their gift shop.
Another activity in Many Glacier is boat tours across Josephine Lake and Swiftcurrent Lake. This is a unique and fun way to take in the beauty of the area.
Two Medicine Lake and Valley
The Two Medicine Valley is located in the southeast corner of Glacier National Park. This area of the park isn’t visited as much as other parts, but it is a sight to behold, with stunning views, waterfalls, gorgeous lakes, and wildlife.
This area has picnic areas, campgrounds, a store, and a gift shop. Visitors in this area also have the ability to take boat tours or rent a boat to explore the area on crystal-clear waters. Two Medicine Valley also has a great number of hiking trails that vary in difficulty.
Experience Lake McDonald in an unforgettable way by booking a boat tour or horseback riding along the shore of the lake.
Wild Goose Island
Wild Goose Island Viewpoint is found on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, where gorgeous photographs of St. Mary Lake, Goose Island, and the majestic peaks of Glacier National Park have been captured and published for books, magazines, calendars, and more.
This area offers panoramic views of the breathtaking beauty of Glacier National Park. If you are hoping to capture the magnificence of Glacier, Wild Goose Island is the perfect location.
Best Times To Visit Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park attracts over 3 million adventurers each year. Since this park is such a popular attraction, it’s quite busy the majority of the time. There are several tips for planning the perfect trip to Glacier so that you can see all the attractions on your wish list.
Best Time To Visit Glacier To Avoid the Crowds
The best time to visit Glacier National Park to avoid crowds is the winter months. The cold temperatures and road closures tend to deter guests. Those that choose to visit during these wintry months feel as if they have the entire park to themselves. Several roads get plowed, allowing adventurers to experience this winter wonderland. Several winter activities happen throughout these cold months, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain climbing.
If your trip falls during the busy months of the year, there are several ways to avoid crowds. Guests who start early in the morning or late in the afternoon are able to see the park without the crowds. Getting to the park before 6 a.m. may be hard, but it leads to fewer crowds and incredible sunrises in the park.
Another way to avoid crowds is to explore the park after 5 p.m. when the number of adventurers drastically decreases. However, visiting the park at this later time still gives plenty of time to explore and even gives guests a chance to see the wildlife at one of their most active times.
Best Time To Visit Glacier National Park for Wildlife
Wildlife is abundant at Glacier National Park, and there are ideal times to visit in order to catch a glimpse of these incredible creatures. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to see these animals enjoying their habitat.
The fall is a perfect time to see these animals since the park is quiet and the animals are busy making preparations for winter.
Cheapest Time To Visit Glacier National Park
For those who are wanting to visit Glacier National Park and save money, the best time to do this is in the winter. The winter months are when the park reduces its prices on private vehicle passes as well as the entrance fee per person. These cheaper months are the months of November through April.
Bottom Line: Visiting in the winter months will allow you to see the park in its most magical state as well as save quite a bit on travel expenses.
Annual Events in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park hosts several summer events each year that help guests learn more about the park and the history of the original people in the park.
Each summer, the Native America Speaks program features tribal members from the Kootenai, Salish, Blackfeet, and Pend d’Oreille tribes. This event takes place right inside the park at different historic lodges, campgrounds, and visitor centers.
The park also has ranger-led programs that occur throughout the year on a regular schedule. These programs include easy walks, evening talks, boat tours, and all-day hiking excursions.
Where To Stay in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has a wide variety of lodging options for those visiting the park, both inside the park and in towns next to the park. Whether you choose to stay on or off-site, you can rest assured that Glacier National Park has you covered with incredible accommodations.
Inside Glacier National Park
From campgrounds to luxury hotels and cabins to rustic lodges, Glacier National Park has an array of lodging options conveniently located right inside the park.
Many Glacier Hotel
Located on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake, Many Glacier Hotel is a historic hotel that provides modern amenities and old-world-style accommodations. Many Glacier Hotel was built in 1914 and is styled in a Swiss chalet style, making this one-of-a-kind experience feel like stepping back in time.
Along with its 214 guest rooms, the hotel also has a restaurant for fine dining, a gift shop, a snack shop, and a lounge. The hotel also provides activities such as horseback riding, boat cruises, red bus tours, and more.
Bottom Line: The Many Glacier Hotel is in the perfect location for taking in the park’s breathtaking views and getting a glimpse of the wildlife, including mountain goats, bears, and bighorn sheep.
Lake McDonald Lodge & Cabins
Lake McDonald Lodge & Cabins is a rustic, picturesque lodging option that is located on the shores of the largest lake in Glacier National Park. The property consists of the main lodge and several duplex-style cabins.
All your needs are taken care of right on the property as Lake McDonald Lodge & Cabins features a pizzeria, a fireside dining room, a gift shop, a lounge, and a camp store.
Village Inn at Apgar
This quaint inn is located in Apgar Village, near the west entrance to Glacier National Park. Village Inn at Apgar offers remarkable views of Lake McDonald as well as the mountain peaks of the park.
Surround yourself with nature, peace, and quiet when staying at this inn. It is truly a place to disconnect and reset from the hustle and bustle of exploring the park.
Glacier National Park has 13 different front country campgrounds for camping enthusiasts to choose from while staying in the park. Tent camping or camping in an RV is permitted at these campgrounds.
Some of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, while others are only available with a reservation.
For those seeking a genuine camping experience, Glacier National Park also offers wilderness camping throughout the park. The wilderness camping program is designed to offer guests amazing experiences while protecting the land and wildlife.
Accommodations Near Glacier National Park
There are several towns near Glacier National Park that have a host of lodging, dining, and entertainment options for adventurers traveling to the park. Whatever you are seeking in your Glacier vacation, you can find exactly what you need in one of the many gateway towns on the edge of Glacier National Park.
Located right on the edge of Glacier National Park, Bigfork, Montana is an excellent choice for lodging near the park. Guests can choose the lodging options that perfectly match their ideal vacation expectations. Accommodations in Bigfork include cozy cabins, luxury hotels, resorts, and campsites.
Bigfork offers many forms of entertainment and adventure, including dog sled adventures, cross-country skiing, paddle boarding, and snowshoeing. There’s never a dull moment when staying in Bigfork!
East Glacier is located on the east side of Glacier National Park. This town is situated in the Blackfoot Indian Reservation, where guests can take part in a wide variety of activities in and near this small town.
Visitors to East Glacier enjoy hiking trails around Middle Two Medicine Lake, where they can see incredible views of the snow-capped mountains, rushing waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and fields of colorful wildflowers. Watching wildlife, fishing, and taking a scenic cruise are also exciting opportunities for those staying in this town.
East Glacier has several incredible restaurants to enjoy during your stay, including lovely steakhouses, Mexican restaurants, and other places for relaxed family meals. There is a host of diverse lodging options for those staying in East Glacier, including a guest ranch, hotels, motels, and even a hostel.
Hungry Horse is a town that is located just a few minutes from Glacier National Park’s West Entrance. This small town is found on the edge of Hungry Horse Reservoir and Hungry Horse Dam. Visitors to this area can book a guided tour of the dam and learn its history and how it is used today.
Hungry Horse has a wide variety of lodging options to offer guests, including bed and breakfasts, motels, resorts, and cabins. Other activities guests enjoy in the area are kayaking, paddleboarding, and shopping in the local shops.
Kalispell is Montana’s seventh-largest city and a great place to stay when visiting Glacier National Park. This town has an incredible list of amenities that will really add to your Glacier vacation experience.
There are a variety of lodging options, from luxury chain hotels to charming bed and breakfasts. The entertainment opportunities in Kalispell seem endless. This town has museums and art galleries and beautiful areas to explore and take in the beauty of Montana.
There are many restaurants for fine dining that feature local produce and meats. From quaint cafés and bistros to exquisite upscale restaurants, guests are sure to find exactly what their tastebuds are searching for.
Not only does Kalispell have great lodging, restaurants, and entertainment, this town is very close to Glacier Park International Airport, which makes it a perfect choice to set up as a hub for your Glacier Vacation.
St. Mary is located in northwestern Montana, just a mile from the park’s entrance. This location is the ultimate home base while you are visiting Glacier National Park.
Staying in the mountain town of St. Mary will provide guests with spectacular sights, incredible dining experiences, amazing accommodations, and activities galore. There are cozy cabins, luxury cottages, and standard motels to choose from, and each accommodation has stunning views of the area.
For those who want to continue the adventure after visiting the park, St. Mary has access to hiking trails of all lengths and difficulties. Rent a canoe or kayak and explore Lower St. Mary Lake, Lake McDonald, or the St. Mary River.
There are narrated boat tours and events like the North American Indian Days and Pow Wow (in nearby Browning) where guests can learn about the history and the original people of the Glacier area. St. Mary has something for everyone and is in the perfect location for visiting Glacier National Park.
This gateway town is right at the Western Entrance to Glacier National Park. This historic town has a wide range of options for accommodations, including rustic log cabins, glamorous chalets, and traditional motel rooms.
Not only will guests find an abundance of lodging options, but West Glacier also has a diverse selection of restaurants to dine in, from fast foods to fine dining. This small town has much to offer travelers of all ages, including wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing, and white-water rafting.
Whitefish is located in the northwest corner of Montana and is easily accessed by Glacier International Airport and Amtrak. Whitefish has a genuine western-style ambiance that tends to draw in visitors and keep them coming back year after year.
Whitefish has something for guests to enjoy in every season of the year. The summers are known for their lively nightlife, live music in Depot Park, and art shows in the local galleries. Winter transforms Whitefish into a busy ski town where visitors spend their days skiing and enjoying the restaurants, annual Winter Carnival, and dog sledding races.
There are only 2 chain hotels found in Whitefish, but there is a large selection of luxury lodges, bed and breakfasts, and inns to choose from for lodging. Whitefish has an incredible historic atmosphere with railroad museums, festivals, art shows, and fish trails. This is the perfect town for family vacations, group trips, or romantic getaways.
Where To Eat in Glacier National Park
With 8 restaurants scattered throughout several parts of the park, adventurers won’t have to worry about going hungry while they are exploring. The park has 3 popular areas that host restaurants to make sure hunger doesn’t keep you from having a blast while you spend your days at Glacier National Park. Let’s take a look at some of these popular restaurants.
Eddie’s Café & Mercantile
Eddie’s Café & Mercantile is located in Apgar and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. Eddie’s is not only a restaurant. It also has a gift shop, camp supply store, and ice cream shop.
This restaurant has been open for over 60 years and is a perfect spot to refuel, grab a delicious meal, and even grab your travel necessities.
Heidi’s Snack Shop & Espresso Stand
Heidi’s Snack Shop & Espresso Stand is an excellent stop on your Glacier exploration trip. This shop is located in the Lake McDonald area and is open daily from early in the morning till late at night, with something for everyone.
Grab a cup of your favorite café drink to enjoy while viewing the natural beauty of Glacier National Park. There are many snack and sandwich options visitors can choose from to refuel from their journey, and even a great selection of drinks, books, and magazines.
Jammer Joe’s Grill & Pizza
Jammer Joe’s Grill & Pizza is the perfect stop for lunch or dinner. This fun dining option is located right near the Lake McDonald Lodge.
Jammer Joe’s is a family favorite as it has something to offer adventurers of all ages and appetites. This restaurant features an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, create-your-own-pizza, as well as soups, fresh salads, and tasty sandwiches.
Ptarmigan Dining Room
The Ptarmigan Dining Room is located in the Many Glacier area and serves daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This well-known dining room has beautiful panoramic views of the lake, mountains, and vistas that surround the restaurant.
There is no need to make reservations for dining at Ptarmigan Dining Room, and guests enjoy the historic, casual atmosphere as well as the delicious food and drink.
Russell’s Fireside Dining Room
Russell’s Fireside Dining Room is located in the Lake McDonald Lodge area and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The restaurant features a historic hunting atmosphere and serves an array of cuisine, including incredible local dishes. Guests enjoy the food, drinks, and rustic style of Russell’s Fireside Dining Room.
Glacier National Park Facts
1. An Official National Park
President William Taft was the president who signed a bill into law that established Glacier National Park in 1910. It was the tenth national park in the U.S.
2. Glaciers Galore
When the park opened in 1910, there were 80 glaciers found in the park. Today, there are only 26 glaciers. There are many places in the park where the glaciers can be easily viewed, including Going-to-the-Sun Road, the Many Glacier area, and the Grinnell Glacier hiking trail.
3. Home to Many Tribes
For 10,000 years, Glacier has been home to many people, including Native American tribes. There is a lot of history that can be learned about the original people of Glacier. In 1895, the Blackfeet tribe sold a portion of their reservation to the federal government. Other tribes have also lived on the park’s property, including the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille tribes.
4. A Royal Nickname
Glacier National Park is nicknamed “The Crown of the Continent” because of its location high in the Rocky Mountains, the incredible sparkling jewel-like glaciers, and its flora and fauna.
5. Symbol of the Park
Mountain goats are easily spotted throughout the park, whether standing on the edge of a cliff or grazing along the mountainside. These beautiful animals became the park’s official symbol because of their prevalence and perseverance in the area.
6. Award-winning Road
Going-to-the-Sun Road is not just a park attraction, it is now an award-winning area of the park. This road proudly boasts several distinctive honors, including being an official National Historic Landmark, a National Historic Place, and a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. This area of the park is also famous as it appears in the classic horror movie “The Shining.”
Each summer, and even during some other seasons, wildfires burn through the park. These burned-over forests can be viewed while hiking several trails. In the past, fires have destroyed historic cabins and lodges, which have been rebuilt in later years.
8. The Continental Divide
Glacier National Park straddles the Continental Divide, which runs from Alaska to Mexico. The Continental Divide can be crossed on Going-to-the-Sun Road. 110 miles of the Continental Divide Trail can be found right inside the park.
9. Cold Nights
Even during the summer, Glacier National Park has chilly nights with temperatures typically in the 40s. If you’re planning a trip to Glacier, even in the middle of summer, it is smart to pack jackets and sweatshirts so you don’t get too cold during the night.
10. A Park the Size of a State
Glacier National Park covers over 1 million acres, which is around 1,580 square miles. This massive park is about the same size as the state of Rhode Island.
11. Home to Endangered Species
Glacier National Park is home to hundreds of types of animals. Wildlife is a huge attraction for park visitors, with 276 bird species and 71 mammal types. Glacier protects several animals found on the endangered animal list, including the Canada lynx, grizzly bears, and bull trout.
12. Miles and Miles of Hiking Trails
It’s no secret that one of the best ways to explore Glacier National Park is by hiking one of its many trails. Glacier has 734 miles of trails that stretch through the park. Adventurers can choose short, easy hikes or long hikes that take entire days to travel.
The most popular hiking trails include Hidden Lake Overlook, Highline Trail, and Iceberg Lake Trail. No matter your level of experience with hiking, you can find a trail that is perfect for you at Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park is an adventurer’s dream location for a trip of a lifetime. From alpine glaciers to incredible waterfalls, from glacial lakes to wildflowers fields, there are many sights to behold, experiences to enjoy, and memories to make at Glacier National Park.