Glacier National Park Itineraries Glacier National Park & Western Montana

Glacier National Park Itineraries

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Enter to win a one-year pass to Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park Itineraries

Glacier National Park is a big place. Home to more than one million acres, off-the-beaten path gems and adventures ranging from one-hour guided trips to multi-day excursions, it can be hard to know where to start. From driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the summer to snowshoeing along the shore of Lake McDonald in the winter, the park’s four distinct seasons provides visitors with endless possibilities to explore. To help make your journey a little easier, we’ve put together several suggestions for your consideration. Happy travels.

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One Day in Glacier National Park

Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

If you have one day in Glacier National Park, you’re well-advised to spend it driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Start your journey in West Glacier. Before making your way into the west entrance of the park, be sure to stop in town to gas up your car and pick up water and snacks for the day. Once you’re inside the park, make a stop in Apgar Village, peruse the various offerings at the Montana House (open year-round) before taking in the view from the southern end of Lake McDonald. After dipping your toes in the lake, travel along the Going-to-the-Sun Road to St. Mary. Take advantage of the various pull-outs and scenic view points along the way. Recommended stops include Trail of the Cedars, Logan Pass Visitor Center, Jackson Glacier Overlook, Sunrift Gorge and Sun Point.

If you go...
  • Stretch your legs by adding on a five-mile round-trip hike to Avalanche Lake.
  • Learn about Glacier National Park as you cruise on a historic wooden boat with Glacier Park Boat Company. The boat company offers two boat tours (both with commentary) along the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Lake McDonald and St. Mary.
  • Take a trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters from their Apgar or Lake McDonald corrals.
  • Hop on a red bus tour. Operated by Glacier National Park Lodges, red bus tours are a fantastic way to take in the sights and sounds of the park. And with someone else at the wheel, you’ll have more time to soak in your surroundings.

Explore Two Medicine

If you’ve already driven the Going-to-the-Sun Road, we suggest traveling to one of the more undiscovered areas of the park. One such place: Glacier National Park’s Two Medicine Valley. Prior to the opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in 1933, Two Medicine was one of the busiest locations in the park. Today, it’s a refuge for visitors seeking a quieter experience in the Crown of the Continent. Located a short drive from East Glacier Park, Two Medicine is easily accessible to all travelers. Pack a lunch (or pick one up in East Glacier Park) and plan to spend the day here. Make your first stop at Running Eagle Falls—named in honor of a female Blackfeet warrior—and take the short hike to the falls. Continue on to Two Medicine Lake and take a boat tour with Glacier Park Boat Company or rent a kayak, canoe or rowboat and take in the beauty of the area from the water. End the day by attending one of the talks from the Native America Speaks Program at Two Medicine Campground.

If you go…
  • Plan to take in the view into the Two Medicine Valley from Looking Glass Highway (Highway 49).
  • Catch the boat to the head of the lake and knock six miles off your hike to Upper Two Medicine Lake.
  • End your day by making the short drive back to East Glacier Park for dinner at Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant.

Snowshoe Glacier National Park

For a serene winter experience, plan to strap on snowshoes and explore Glacier National Park’s Lake McDonald Valley. During winter (January – March), the National Park Service offers free ranger-led tours on Saturdays and Sundays. Suitable for varying ages and abilities, the walks encourage participants to search for signs of wildlife and discover plans and animals that call the park home. In addition, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the shore of Lake McDonald and the trail system at Marias Pass are prime areas for snowshoeing.

If you go…
  • Plan to pack a snack, water or lunch, as services are limited during the winter.
  • Check weather and trail conditions before you go.
  • Warm up after a day outside at the Belton Chalet in West Glacier. The chalet is open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, and brunch on Sundays.
  • Local outfitters, including Glacier Adventure Guides and Izaak Walton Inn offer guided snowshoeing and cross-country excursions into the park.

Three Summer Days in Glacier National Park

Day One: The Going-to-the-Sun Road

Spend your first day in Glacier National Park driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road. You can drive the road from west to east and back or you can turn it into a loop tour by driving the road from West Glacier to St. Mary and heading back to West Glacier via East Glacier Park and Highway 2. Be sure to take advantage of the various pull-outs and scenic view points along the way. Recommended stops include Trail of the Cedars, Logan Pass Visitor Center, Jackson Glacier Overlook, Sunrift Gorge and Sun Point.

Overnight options include Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier Park, Izaak Walton Inn in Essex and Glacier Outdoor Center in West Glacier.

Day Two: The North Fork

Today will take you to one of the wildest sections of the park: the North Fork. Accessed by a gravel road, the North Fork is one of the most scenic and off-the-beaten path sections of the park that’s accessible by car. Be sure to take advantage of the stunning views into the park as you make your way up the Outside North Fork Road. Polebridge, a small electricity-free town (the community is powered by solar panels and generators) just outside the park’s border, anchors the area. Here you’ll find a historic mercantile, saloon, cabins for rent and a hostel. Be sure to stop into the Polebridge Mercantile for some of the best pastries in the West. After fueling up on goodies, rent a kayak or canoe (or bring your own) and head into the park to Bowman or Kitla lakes for a few hours of paddling on the clear blue waters.

Overnight options include Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park or Great Northern Resort and Belton Chalet in West Glacier.

Day Three: West Glacier

Spend the final day of your trip participating in some of the activities and adventures around one of the park’s hubs—West Glacier. Start your morning on a trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters at their West Glacier corral. After taking in the view along the trail, head out on a half-day fly-fishing or whitewater rafting trip along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Along the way, you’ll learn about area history and local legends. Round out the night with dinner at the Belton Chalet.

Overnight options include Glacier Guides Lodge and Glacier Haven Inn in West Glacier.

If you go…
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, take the Inside North Fork Road through the park to Polebridge. Check the road status before you go and be sure you’re in a high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle.
  • For a different view of the park, book a helicopter tour with Glacier Heli Tours or Glacier Jet Center.
  • Learn more about Glacier National Park by participating in one of the ranger-led activities.

Three Winter Days in Glacier National Park

Day One: The Izaak Walton Inn

Start your journey at the historic Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. Located between Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the Izaak Walton Inn is a quiet winter oasis that offers 33 kilometers of on-site groomed cross-country and skate skiing trails. The inn also offers guided excursions in Glacier National Park. After a day in Montana’s mountains, unwind with dinner and local beer at the Dining Car in the Izaak Walton Inn.

Overnight at the Izaak Walton Inn.

Day Two: The Going-to-the-Sun Road

Today will take you to the snow-covered Going-to-the-Sun Road. During the winter, most of the road is closed to vehicular travel as snowfall creates a sanctuary for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The road is plowed from the west entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge and snow lovers can access the road just past the lodge.

Overnight options include The Belton Chalet cottages and Historic Tamarack Lodge & Cabins.

Day Three: The North Fork + Columbia Falls

Start your day with breakfast in Columbia Falls before venturing to the North Fork and the electricity-free town of Polebridge. The North Fork Road will likely have some snow on it, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to travel the road and take in the views of this wild corner of Montana. Once in Polebridge, stop into the Polebridge Mercantile for baked goods and sandwiches. If you want to do some hiking, be sure to bring your snowshoes for a heart-pumping walk along the Camas Road before returning to Columbia Falls and relaxing your muscles with a massage at Meadow Lake Resort.

Lodging options include Meadow Lake Golf & Ski Resort and North Forty Resort.

If you go…
  • For a guided winter tour in Glacier National Park, book a trip with Glacier Adventure Guides. Their experienced team of guides can tailor trips to your needs and ensure you have a memorable time discovering Glacier National Park.
  • Take advantage of the free snowshoe tours offered by the National Park Service on Saturdays and Sundays from January – March.
  • After a day in the park, unwind with a delicious dinner at the Belton Chalet in West Glacier. The Belton is open for dinner on Fridays and Saturday nights, and brunch on Sundays during the winter months.

Five Days in and around Glacier National Park

Day One: West Glacier

Start your trip in West Glacier, located right outside the west entrance of the park. After stopping into the Crown of the Continent Discovery Center for coffee (and to peruse their many Montana-made items), continue on to one of the local raft companies for your late morning trip on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. After having lunch riverside, make your way into the park for a trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters at their Apgar corral. End your first evening with dinner at the historic Belton Chalet as you watch the trains roll past.

Overnight options include Belton Chalet, Glacier Outdoor Center, Great Northern Resort or Glacier Guides Lodge in West Glacier.

Day Two: The Going-to-the-Sun Road

Today will be spent in Glacier National Park driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Drive the road from west to east. (Or if you prefer to leave the driving to someone else, take a red bus tour). Along the way, be sure to take advantage of the various pull-outs and scenic viewpoints. Recommended stops include Trail of the Cedars, Logan Pass Visitor Center, Jackson Glacier Overlook, Sunrift Gorge and Sun Point. After a day in the park, fill your tummy on a family style dinner at Johnson’s of St. Mary or Two Sisters Café in Babb.

Overnight options in St. Mary include St. Mary Lodge & Resort, Glacier Pinnacle Cottages, Johnson’s of St. Mary and St. Mary Glacier Park KOA Kampground.

Day Three: American Indian History

Known as the “Backbone of the World” to the Blackfeet Nation, Glacier National Park has historical and spiritual significance to many of Montana’s First Nations. Learn about the park from the perspective of the Blackfeet Tribe on a guided trip with Sun Tours. After the tour, soak up more of the area’s American Indian history by visiting the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning, taking a trail ride on the Blackfeet Nation with Glacier Gateway Outfitters or attending one of the park’s Native America Speaks programs. Unwind with dinner at Bison Creek Guest Ranch or Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant in East Glacier Park.

Overnight options include Glacier Park Lodge, Bison Creek Ranch or East Glacier Motel & Cabins (all in East Glacier) or Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Browning.

Day Four: Many Glacier

Take the short drive north from St. Mary to one of the most visually stunning areas of the park—Many Glacier. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for moose and bear, as this area is home to many of the park’s wildlife. Once you arrive, check out Many Glacier Hotel—a Swiss-style property that sits on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake. (You can snag breakfast, lunch or dinner here). The area is also know for its many outdoor recreational options, including trail rides, plentiful hiking trails and guided boat tours. At the end of the day, unwind with a Montana-themed cocktail on the hotel’s deck as you watch the sun set behind the mountains.

Overnight options inside the park include Many Glacier Hotel and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, as well as The Stonehouse at Duck Lake in Babb.

Day Five: Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Cruise north along the Chief Mountain International Highway to Waterton Lakes National Park. Along the way, you’ll see incredible views of Chief Mountain (a sacred site to the Blackfeet Tribe) before crossing the international border into Alberta. Once you arrive in Waterton Lakes National Park, stop at the Prince of Wales Hotel for a stunning view of Waterton Lake and the small town of Waterton. Once in town, stroll through downtown, rent a tandem bike, take a boat tour or set out on one of the area’s many hiking trails.

Overnight options include The Prince of Wales Hotel or Bayshore Inn.

If you go…
  • Stop into Glacier County Honey Co. in Babb for local (and delicious) Montana honey.
  • Glacier Park Boat Company offers boat tours on many of the park’s lakes, including Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, St. Mary and Swiftcurrent.
  • Don’t want to tackle the trails by yourself? Consider taking a guided hike with Glacier Guides.
  • Be sure to bring your passport.

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Glacier National Park Itineraries, See and Explore Glacier National Park

Western Montana's Glacier Country

News from Glacier National Park: Currently all of the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open for travel.

Bird Woman Falls

An icon in Glacier National Park, Bird Woman Falls is a glistening 492-foot-high waterfall that cascades down the side of Mt. Oberlin. From West Glacier, travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Bird Woman Falls Overlook, located on the west side of the Continental Divide.

Trail of the Cedars

This short boardwalk trail (ADA accessible) takes visitors through an old growth cedar forest. It’s also the beginning of the Avalanche Lake Trail (just over two miles long) that leads to Avalanche Lake—one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park. Trail of the Cedars is located about five and a half miles north of Lake McDonald Lodge.

Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

If your time in Glacier National Park is limited, one must-see attraction is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 50-mile long road takes travelers between St. Mary and West Glacier through the heart of the park, crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. There are numerous pullouts along the road, ideal for taking photographs and enjoying the scenery.

See a Glacier

As you’re traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road, pull over at Jackson Glacier Overlook (located east of Logan Pass). The overlook offers the best opportunity to see a glacier from the road.

Many Glacier Valley

Home to incredible mountains, active glaciers, abundant wildlife and miles of hiking trails, Many Glacier is located in the northeast section of Glacier National Park. Trails leave from this valley in numerous directions, with popular hiking destinations including Iceberg Lake, Grinnell Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel.

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