Get ready to be transported to a world of breathtaking beauty with a visit to Glacier National Park, the “Crown of the Continent.” Situated in Montana’s awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, this national park offers an unparalleled adventure with its crystal-clear waters, towering glacier-capped mountains, and pristine meadows. It’s no wonder why this stunning destination is considered one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Don’t miss the chance to experience nature’s grandeur at its finest with a journey to Glacier National Park.
Embark on a Journey of a Lifetime in this Hiker’s Paradise! Immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of Glacier National Park with some of the most breathtaking hikes you’ve ever imagined. Whether you’re planning a short 4-day trip or a longer 4-week adventure, the park’s splendor will captivate you with its endless mesmerizing landscapes. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore nature’s finest and satisfy your thirst for adventure.
Easiest Way to Reach the Heart of Nature: Glacier National Park!
Fly into the Glacier National Park International Airport located in Kalispell, Montana and enjoy a quick 30-minute drive to the park. Car rental companies are conveniently located right at the airport entrance, making it easy to start your adventure right away. Don’t let flight ticket prices hold you back – use your smarts to search for the best deals or use our travel hacks and arrive at the airport stress-free.
Perfect Time to Visit Glacier National Park for the Trip of a Lifetime!
If you’re planning your visit to the park, make sure to check out the dates for the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the only road that connects the west and east sides of the park. This magnificent, yet narrow road is only open from mid-July to mid-October, so plan your trip accordingly to ensure you get to experience this magnificent park in all its glory. Our personal recommendation for the best time to visit is August for the full experience. However, even if you miss the 3-month window, there’s still plenty to see and explore on either end of the park. If you want to visit during the winter months, then don’t miss our guide for a fantastic winter travel experience in Glacier National Park. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – start planning your trip today!
Best Places to Stay at Glacier National Park
Set out on an unforgettable adventure in Montana’s Rocky Mountains with a comfortable stay in Glacier National Park. Deciding where to stay is a crucial part of planning your trip, as the park is vast and offers a range of options. Whether you want to spend most of your time on the west or east side, our recommendations will help you find your perfect retreat. We recommend the west side due to its proximity to the airport, but both sides are equally beautiful, with endless must-see spots and incredible hikes. Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in the stunning scenery and make your stay in Glacier National Park one to remember! Read on for our expert tips on where to stay.
1. Coziest Accommodations Near Glacier National Park’s West Entrance!
Glacier National Park’s west entrance is a popular destination for those looking to explore the natural beauty of the park and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For those seeking a cozy and comfortable place to stay, there are several excellent options available.
One such option is the Grouse Mountain Lodge, located just minutes from the west entrance. This lodge offers a range of accommodations, including cozy and rustic rooms, as well as spacious suites, each decorated in a warm, mountain cabin style. With comfortable furnishings, soft bedding, and a hearty breakfast each morning, you’ll have all the comforts of home as you embark on your daily adventures. And after a long day of exploring the natural beauty of Glacier National Park, unwind in the hot tub or soak in the outdoor pool.
Another great option is the Izaak Walton Inn, located in the small town of Essex, Montana. This historic inn, originally built as a railroad hotel, offers a range of comfortable and well-appointed rooms. Guests can relax in the lounge, complete with a cozy fireplace and a library of books and games, or enjoy a meal in the on-site restaurant. The inn is surrounded by beautiful scenery, and it’s only a short drive from the west entrance to Glacier National Park.
No matter what type of accommodation you’re looking for, there’s a cozy option near Glacier National Park’s west entrance that’s sure to meet your needs. From historic inns to modern resorts, you’ll find many options that offer a cozy and inviting place to call home while exploring the park’s stunning beauty.
2. Most Comfortable Accommodations Near Glacier National Park’s East Entrance!
The park’s east entrance has a variety of accommodations to choose from. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious resort or a budget-friendly option, you’ll find the perfect place to stay.
Set off on a luxurious adventure and make the most of your trip to Montana’s Rocky Mountains by staying at the stunning Many Glacier Hotel on the east side of Glacier National Park. With its prime location on the banks of the breathtaking Swiftcurrent Lake, this elegant lodge offers a grand appeal that is perfect for those looking for a touch of sophistication while surrounded by nature. For an even more immersive experience, consider staying in a cozy cabin that offers a rustic and intimate atmosphere.
For those looking for a budget-friendly option, the St. Mary KOA is a great choice. This campground offers a variety of camping options, including tents, RV sites, and cozy cabins. With a range of amenities, including a playground, fishing pond, and laundry facilities, the St. Mary KOA is the perfect place for families and budget-conscious travelers.
With breathtaking mountain views and easy access to the park’s attractions, the accommodations near the east entrance offer the perfect balance of comfort and convenience.
Regardless of your accommodation choice, be sure to plan your itinerary to include the unforgettable Swiftcurrent Lake Boat Ride, located near the east side of the park.
How Many Days to Spend at Glacier National Park?
Whether you’re planning a 4-day getaway or a month-long escape, you’ll never want to leave the stunning beauty of this park. But, to truly make the most of your trip, it’s recommended to spend a minimum of 5 days exploring both the west and east sides of the park.
Split your time equally, dedicating 3 days to the west side and 2 days to the east. This way, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the diverse landscapes, witness the incredible wildlife and enjoy all the park has to offer.
Essential Tips for a Comfortable Stay at Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is the perfect destination for nature lovers and adventurous souls. However, to make the most of your trip, it’s essential to be prepared. Here are some important tips to ensure a safe, comfortable and unforgettable experience at Glacier National Park.
- Invest in Quality Footwear: Hiking the trails of Glacier National Park can be challenging, so make sure to bring a sturdy pair of hiking shoes with good traction. The terrain can be slippery with loose rocks, so having the right footwear will make all the difference.
- Bear Safety First: Glacier National Park is home to a large population of bears, so it’s crucial to keep bear bells and spray with you at all times. As you hike, keep ringing your bear bells and talk out loud, and be ready to use the spray if you have an encounter.
- Fuel Up: The hikes in Glacier National Park can be demanding, so it’s important to keep plenty of energy bars, trail mix, and drinks with you. Stay fueled up so you can enjoy your hike to the fullest.
- Get an Early Start: To avoid crowds and find a good parking spot, it’s best to arrive early for your hikes. Also, keep in mind that the hikes can be long, so give yourself plenty of time.
- Stay Informed: Stay up to date on daily trail closures and weather-related concerns by checking the park’s official website for more information.
- Plan Your Meals: If you’re staying in the west end of the park, food options may be limited. We recommend stopping at Super 1 Foods and picking up some bread and meats to keep in your cabin.
Best Hiking Shoes We Recommend
Embrace the beauty and majesty of Glacier National Park with these essential tips. Make your stay comfortable, safe, and unforgettable, and discover the magic of this incredible wonderland. Now finally, let’s get to it, into the details of this magical wonderland.
1. Hidden Lake Overlook Nature Trail
The Hidden Lake Overlook trail is one of the park’s most picturesque trails. This amazing trail is perfect for nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers, with its trailhead conveniently located behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center.
Plan Your Visit: To ensure a smooth and stress-free experience, plan to arrive at the Logan Pass Visitor Center around 6-6:30 AM. Parking is available at the center but tends to fill up quickly since the Highline trail also starts from here; so make sure to get there early. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the park’s free shuttle, which will drop you off at Logan Pass.
Stroll Through Picture-Perfect Scenery: The trail is relatively easy, with a quarter of the trail being flat and surrounded by beautiful grasslands and wildflowers. Even as the incline starts, the path is wide and comfortable, providing stunning views along the way. Don’t forget to take plenty of photos at the multiple vista points, and savor the breathtaking view from the top of the trail.
Allow Plenty of Time: To fully enjoy the Hidden Lake Overlook Nature Trail, make sure to set aside at least 3 hours for the round trip. You’ll want to stop often to take in the beauty, so plan accordingly. Some visitors also hike down to the Hidden Lake, which is another 2.5 miles from the overlook, but it was closed the day of our visit due to bear sightings. We can’t wait to go back and see it next time!
2. Going to the Sun Road
Get ready for a scenic road trip adventure with the legendary Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. This iconic road, open for just three months a year, is the perfect way to experience the breathtaking beauty of the park.
As you drive along the road, you’ll be tempted to pull over every few minutes to admire the stunning views. But, be mindful of other drivers on the narrow road and only stop at designated parking areas.
Let me recommend the instagrammable points on the road beginning from the west side. The first must-see spot is the majestic Heaven’s Peak Overlook, a breathtaking mountain that stands tall and proud. Park your car at The Loop and take all the photos you want, or hop on a shuttle to make the most of your journey. Do read more about the impressive peak and how you can hike to the summit in the beautiful article “The Place Where God Lives.” Get ready to capture memories that will last a lifetime!
The next point on the road will be the Weeping Wall. It is a unique mountain side with water cascading down, earning it the name “Weeping Wall”. Despite its simplicity, it’s a must-visit photo spot on your road trip through the park. However, be cautious of parking as there are no designated spots available. Keep an eye out for opportunities to safely park your car.
If you’re using the shuttle, then it will only slow down at this spot giving you time to click your pictures.
Following ahead on the road, you will also come across the Bird Woman Falls and the Jackson Glacier overlook, make sure to stop and capture the memories with a photo or two! Next up, the St. Mary Falls trail awaits you with even more breathtaking beauty (more on this trail below). And, last but not least, the famous Wild Goose Island lookout, made iconic from the opening scene in “The Shining,” is a must-see for any nature lover. Prepare to be awed by all the breathtaking vistas this road has to offer!
3. St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls
This hike is a must-do for nature lovers and adventure seekers! Despite some gradual inclines, the comfortable, wide path makes this trek a manageable and enjoyable experience. Although the trail itself may not boast many views, the payoff at the end is truly spectacular.
Accessing the trailhead is easy, with a free shuttle option available from Logan Pass that drops you at the St. Mary Falls shuttle stop. If you’re driving, you can park at the Sun Point parking and enjoy a 15-minute walk to the trailhead. At the trailhead, you’ll see directions for two trails, leading to either the St. Mary Falls & Virginia Falls or Baring Falls and the Sunrift Gorge.
After reaching the Virginia Falls, you can also choose to continue your journey on the Sunrift Gorge trail, where you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of St. Mary’s Lake and spellbinding landscapes. We guarantee you’ll be taken aback by the beauty that nature holds, as you’d have never seen anything so perfect before! Don’t forget your cameras, as this makes for a great photo opportunity!
The roundtrip to Virginia Falls takes approximately 2 hours, with an additional 40 minutes to Sunrift Gorge. And, you’ll have peace of mind knowing there’s a shuttle stop right at Sunrift Gorge, so you won’t have to walk back up to the St. Mary Falls trailhead.
4. Grinnell Glacier Trail
Ready for a breathtaking adventure that combines stunning natural beauty with an exciting challenge? Look no further than the Grinnell Glacier Trail! This trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in the world, but also requires both mental and physical endurance.
The Grinnell Glacier Trail is located on the east side of Glacier National Park, and to reach it, you will need to drive to the Many Glacier Hotel. From there, you have the option of taking a round-trip shuttle boat service across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine to save 3.4 miles, or hiking the entire 11-mile trail. Just keep in mind that boat tickets are sold on a daily basis at the dock behind the hotel and can sell out as early as 8:10 am (even though they open at 8 am), so be sure to arrive early to secure your spot.
One of the most mentally challenging aspects of the trail is the high probability of encountering grizzly bears. It’s important to stay in large groups, make noise, and ring bear bells along the trail. Make sure to check NPS updates before hiking and avoid the trail if there have been recent bear sightings in the area.
The trail itself offers spectacular views of Grinnell Lake and awe-inspiring landscapes. You may even spot some wildlife, such as wild goats and marmots, along the way. However, the true reward of this hike is the breathtaking sight of the majestic Grinnell Glacier at the top. Get ready to be amazed as you reach the top!
5. Lake McDonald
The largest lake in the park, Lake McDonald, created by the erosion of massive glaciers, offers a unique blend of nature and recreation for visitors seeking a memorable outdoor experience. From mesmerizing sunrises to challenging hikes, Lake McDonald promises a day full of unforgettable memories.
We spent some tranquil time at the lake watching the beautiful sunrise as we prepared ourselves for the strenuous hikes that were ahead of us.
Get ready for the ultimate morning adventure by fueling up with a delicious breakfast at the Lake McDonald lodge. The charming restaurant serves up the best of Montana’s cuisine, including mouth-watering huckleberry treats, to make sure you have the energy to conquer the day. Whether you plan to embark on a strenuous hike or simply soak in the beauty of Lake McDonald, start your day off right with a hearty Montana breakfast.
6. Trail of the Cedars
Take a leisurely stroll through one of the easiest trails in Glacier National Park. The Trail of the Cedars is a 1-mile loop surrounded by towering cedars and a lush landscape of mosses, ferns, and other vegetation.
Effortless Accessibility: This trail is designed for visitors of all ages and abilities with its boardwalk that runs the length of the trail. But, if you’re looking for a more challenging experience, the trail can be extended by combining it with the Avalanche Trail, which starts at about the half-way point of the Trail of the Cedars, making the total hike length to become 5.5 miles.
Finding a parking spot can be a challenge, but the reward at the end of the trail makes it all worth it. Join the throngs of visitors who flock to this trail to marvel at the beauty of nature.
7. Avalanche Trail
Avalanche Trail, an extension to the Trail of the Cedars, is a 4.5-mile roundtrip hike that offers a breathtaking blend of towering pines, lush greenery, and stunning vistas. As you journey through the thick forest, you’ll be transported to a world of natural beauty, with every step revealing a new, awe-inspiring sight.
The final destination of the Avalanche Trail is the stunning Avalanche Lake, where you can kick off your shoes and relax on its beautiful beach, surrounded by glacier-carved landscapes. With so much to see and do, the Avalanche Trail is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the wonders of nature.
8. Highline Trail
Finally coming to this infamous trail of the Glacier National Park. The Highline Trail is a 12 mile roundtrip hike which is extremely popular and yet is one of the most grueling hikes of the park. The challenging nature of the trail starts from the very beginning. Just 10 minutes into the hike, you will arrive at the famous ledge, which is only six to eight feet in width, and has drop-offs of roughly one hundred feet down to the Going-to-the-Sun Road below. It is known for terrifying people with the fear of heights. Even though this part is only three-tenth of a mile long, it seems to last forever. Both of us were almost cemented to the Garden Wall on the side as we took each step very precariously. It does have ropes to give you support as you walk, but you still need to be careful.
One of the most popular yet grueling hikes in the Glacier National Park is the Highline Trail. This 12-mile roundtrip hike takes you through breathtaking landscapes and offers opportunities to spot wildlife along the way. Get ready for an adrenaline-pumping journey that begins with a heart-stopping challenge. Just 10 minutes into the hike, you’ll arrive at the infamous ledge – a narrow trail, about 6 feet in width, with drop-offs of roughly 100 feet and ropes for support. Brave the ledge and continue your journey through the scenic vistas of the park.
Once this part is over, there will be some stunning views of the park along with many amazing opportunities of spotting wildlife.
The Highline Trail is not for the faint-hearted, but the reward is well worth the effort. After the initial ledge, you’ll be treated to a gradual incline and sharp turns that lead to stunning views of the park. At 7 miles, the trail splits into two parts. On one side, you’ll find the Garden Wall trail, which leads to a birds-eye view of the Grinnell Glacier. On the other side, the Granite Park Chalet offers breathtaking landscape views of the park. The one we did was hike up to the Granite Park Chalet
Now, in order to return you will have two options. Either hike back the entire trail to the starting point, or continue towards the Loop on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is about a 4.5 miles hike. Let me tell you that the latter doesn’t have any views and you’d mostly be passing through thick wild woods to reach the bottom. Also, contrary to what people say, we did not think this part had any extreme drop. We feel the decline was manageable, the only part unmanageable was the lack of any view during this part of the trail, which made it quite boring towards the end.
As you near the end of your hike, you have two options to return. Hike back the entire trail to the starting point or continue towards the Loop on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is about a 4.5 miles hike. While the latter is manageable, it does lack views as you’d mostly be passing through thick wild woods and can become boring towards the end. Also, contrary to what people say, we DID NOT think this part had any extreme drop.
Our advice is to plan for a full day for this strenuous hike and not let the initial harrowing part discourage you. Keep going ahead slowly and steadily and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful vistas in the park.
9. Iceberg Lake Trail
Let me paint the picture for you. Charismatic icebergs floating in crystal blue waters surrounded by towering mountains. Sounds surreal, right? And it looks even more heavenly in real life! This is a must-do hike for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. This strenuous hike, a 9.7-mile roundtrip journey, takes you on an incredible journey through alpine meadows, mesmerizing waterfalls, and breathtaking views.
As you traverse through the trail, you might encounter wildlife including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and even bears, so be sure to bring a bear spray and make noise to keep the bears at bay. The initial part of the trail features a steep incline, but the effort is worth it as the trail gradually flattens out, providing stunning views along the way.
Reach the heart of the trail and you’ll be captivated by the serene beauty of the icebergs floating in the crystal blue lake, surrounded by towering peaks that rise more than 2000 feet above the water. The area also makes for a perfect picnic spot, so pack a delicious lunch and relish the tranquil surroundings.
Located behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, be sure to start your hike early as it is a long trail, but it is an adventure you won’t regret taking. Embrace the rugged wilderness and immerse yourself in the mesmerizing beauty of Iceberg Lake Trail.
10. Two Medicine Lake
Escape the crowded trails and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of Two Medicine Lake. This hidden gem of the Montana wilderness offers breathtaking views of peaks, woods, meadows, lakes, and wildflowers, making it another must-do hike. Read here to know about all the hikes in the Two Medicine area.
But wait, there’s more! Opt for the scenic boat ride across the lake and be mesmerized by its stunning scenery. If you’re looking for an even more thrilling experience, hike up to the Scenic Point and feast your eyes on panoramic views of the breathtaking surroundings. Trust us, you won’t regret it!
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature lover seeking a peaceful escape, Two Medicine Lake is the perfect place to explore the beauty of Montana.
From thrilling hikes to breathtaking views, Glacier National Park offers a wealth of experiences that will steal your heart away. Whether you’re seeking scenic landscapes, peaceful lakes, or heart-pumping adventure, this park has it all. So, why wait? Start planning your next outdoor adventure at this piece of heaven on earth. Don’t miss out on the top 10 must-see spots that will leave you in awe and completely captivated by the beauty of Glacier National Park. Book your trip today and immerse yourself in the serene splendor of one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders.
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