Visiting Glacier National Park – Your Ultimate Guide

Glacier National Park
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Where is the Glacier National Park

Map of Glacier National Park

The National Park is located in Montana, USA. This park has beautiful mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, glaciers, wildlife, and other natural wonders. There are also several hiking trails for visitors to explore.

Whether you love nature or adventure sports, Glacier National Park has something for everyone. From hiking trails to scenic drives, there’s plenty to see and do at America’s only national park devoted to glaciers.

Glacier National Park was established in 1910 to preserve its natural beauty and wildlife. The park covers 602 square miles and is home to some of the highest peaks in North America, such as Mount Logan (11,058 ft), Mount Wilbur (10,891 ft), and Mount Gould (12,062 ft).

There are several ways to explore Glacier National Park, from day trips to overnight camping trips. This guide gives you the lowdown on what to expect during your visit, plus highlights the top attractions and activities.

The Glacier National Park is one of the largest national parks in the United States, located in Montana, USA. This park was established in 1910 and covers 1,200 square miles. There are two main entrances into the park: Going-to-the-Sun Road and St Mary Lake Entrance. Both roads are paved and offer breathtaking views of the mountains and glaciers.

Glacier national park

History of Glacier National Park

Glacier Park, a beloved park in northwestern Montana, takes its name from the numerous glaciers and glacial forces that shaped its mountainous topography for over two million years.

In 1872, Muir led a group of scientists into the region where he discovered glaciers. He later wrote his experiences in the book called Travels in Alaska.

Muir described the area as being “a land of ice and snow…the mountains are covered with perpetual snows from the summit to base”. This description helped inspire the naming of the park.

The early history of Glacier National Park

Before Europeans arrived in North America, the area now known as Glacier National Park was inhabited by Native Americans. In 1805, The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through what is now Glacier National Park on their expedition across the United States. They named the area “Lewis River” after President Thomas Jefferson.

Lewis and clark
Lewis and clark expedition – public domain, https://commons. Wikimedia. Org/w/index. Php? Curid=494008

In 1807, fur trappers first entered the region and began trading with the local Indians. By the early 19th century, white settlers had begun moving into the area.

By the mid-19th century, gold mining became a major industry in the region. However, the miners were forced out of the park by the government in 1879.

In 1910, the federal government established the Great Northern Railway Company to build a railroad line that would connect the city of Seattle with the Canadian border. This project required the construction of a tunnel under the Continental Divide.

Construction of the railway started in 1914 and was completed in 1917. It connected the cities of East Glacier and West Glacier with the town of Saint Mary.

The railway brought tourists to the park who enjoyed the scenery and wildlife. During World War I (WWI), the military used the railway to transport supplies from the port of Seward to the front lines.

The military abandoned the railway in 1919. The tracks were removed and the right-of-way was converted into a scenic highway called the Going-to-the-Sun Highway. Today it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the park.

Glacier National Park today

Today, Glacier National Park has become an important destination for visitors. It attracts over 3 million people every year.

There are many activities available in the park including hiking, fishing, horseback riding, camping, sightseeing tours, skiing, and more.

Many of these activities require permits that can be obtained at the visitor center or online.

The park also offers guided hikes, boat rides, and other special events throughout the year.

The park features some of the best hiking trails in the world. These include the Going-to-Sun Road, Hidden Valley Trail, Logan Pass trail, Many Parks Loop Trail, Many Parks Hike, Mount Wilbur trail, and others.

The park’s natural beauty includes lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, rivers, forests, meadows, alpine tundra, and much more.

Glacier national park

How did the Glacier National Park form?

The mountains of Glacier National Park began forming 170 million years ago when rocks from the past were pushed to the east and over younger strata of rock. They are known by the Lewis Overthrust, these sedimentary rocks are thought to be some of the best fossils from the early days of life found on Earth.

The present shapes of the Lewis and Livingston mountain ranges and the location and size of the lakes are evidence of massive glacial movement that created U-shaped valleys and left behind moraines that pumped out the water, forming lakes.

From the estimated 150 glaciers of 25 acres that were present in the park in the mid-19th century during the final stages of the Little Ice Age, only 25 glaciers that were active remained in the year 2010. Researchers studying the glaciers within the park have concluded that all active glaciers could disappear in 2030 if current weather patterns continue to prevail.

Geology of Glacier National Park

Glaciers formed when large amounts of snow fell during periods of extreme cold. As the glaciers melted, they left behind rock debris. Over time, these rocks became compressed and compacted. They then slowly moved downhill toward warmer temperatures.

As the glaciers retreated, they deposited their sedimentary remains on the surrounding landscape. These deposits eventually hardened into rocks.

Rocks in the park include granites, gneisses, schists, quartzite, sandstone, shale, limestone, dolomite, chert, siltstone, mudstone, and conglomerate.

The climate of Glacier National Park

The climate is characterized by cold winters and warm summers. In winter, temperatures range between 0°F and 20°F. During summer months, temperatures rise to 80°F or higher.

According to the National Weather Service, the average annual precipitation for the park is about 30 inches. However, there are also periods of drought when rainfall drops below 10 inches per year.

There are three seasons in Glacier National Park: spring, summer, and fall. Spring usually lasts from March through May. Summer is from June through August. Fall starts in September and ends in November.

During the spring and summer, visitors will find many activities available including hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, wildlife spotting, and photography.

Winter brings skiers and snowboarders to enjoy the natural beauty of the park. Visitors should bring their own equipment because rentals are not allowed.

During the winter season, most roads are closed due to heavy snowfall. There are two main access points into the park: St Mary and Going-to-the-Sun Road. Both routes provide easy access to the park.

Going-to-the-sun road provides access to the west side of the park while St Mary Road leads to the east side. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is open until April 15 each year.

Glacier national park

Wildlife and ecology at Glacier National Park

Fauna of Glacier National Park

In addition to the bison, elk, moose, grizzly bear, black bears, wolves, coyotes, lynx, cougar, porcupines, beavers, otters, martens, mink, muskrats, and river otter, there are several species of birds found in the park. Some of these include bald eagles, golden eagles, ospreys, peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, ravens, woodpeckers, and owls.

The park is also home to several unique species of animals such as mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, wolverines, marmots, pikas, lynx, wolverine, mule deer, coyote, red fox, fisher, marten, bobcat, skunk, raccoon, opossum, porcupines, squirrels, chipmunks, woodpeckers, songbirds, raptors, owls, falcons, eagles, osprey, hawks, falcons, hummingbirds, butterflies, and dragonflies.

As well as damselflies, caddis flies, midges, mayflies, stoneflies, cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, beetles, spiders, slugs, snails, centipedes, millipedes, worms, molluscs, sea stars, jellyfish, corals, sea urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers, sea otters, seals, whales, walruses, fish, amphibians, reptiles, lizards, turtles, snakes, salamanders, frogs, newts, and many others.

Flora of Glacier National Park

Some of the plants found in the park include wildflowers such as lupine, buttercups, forget-me-nots, daisies, phlox, bluebells, columbine, trillium, lady slipper orchid, and shooting stars. Other plants include cottonwood trees, spruce trees, fir trees, pine trees, and aspen trees.

How To Enter The Park

There are four ways to enter the park: via Going-to-the sun Road, St. Mary Road, Waterton Lakes National Park, and the Canada–US border.

  • The Going-to-the-Sun Road connects the towns of St. Mary and East Glacier with the Going-to-sun Roadhead Station at Two Medicine.
  • St. Mary Road runs along the south side of the park and connects the towns of St Mary and Apgar.
  • Waterton Lakes National Park lies just north of the park boundary.
  • Canada–US border crossing

The park’s headquarters are located in the town of St.Mary.

Places To Stay At Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park hotels and lodgings

There are a number of accommodations available for visitors to stay in during their visit to the park. Many hotels offer rooms that can accommodate families.

Glacier National Park features a variety of lodging options ranging from rustic cabins to luxury resorts. If you want to stay close to the action, check out these accommodations near the main entrance of the park.

Here is a list of hotels and accommodations:

  • Apgar Lodge
  • Berg Lake Chalet
  • Black Bear Inn
  • East Glacier Motel
  • Granite Park Chalets
  • Lake McDonald Lodge
  • Sperry Chalet Campgrounds
  • Whitefish Mountain Resort Lodging
  • Many Glacier Hotel
  • Cedar Creek Lodge
  • Swiftcurrent Motor Inn
  • Rising Sun Motor Inn
  • Village Inn at Apgar
Many glacier hotel green
Many glacier hotel green

How to get to Glacier National Park

There are two entrances to the park: Going-to-the-Sun Road and St Mary Pass. Both roads are open year-round.

You can reach the park via either road. If you choose to travel along Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll pass through the town of West Glacier. This is the main gateway to the park. From here, visitors can take day hikes or overnight trips into the backcountry.

When is the best time to visit Glacier National Park?

Summer is the ideal time to visit Glacier National Parks. The weather is warm and sunny, and visitors can enjoy hiking through the forest or taking part in outdoor sports such as fishing, boating, swimming, camping, horseback riding, and snowmobiling.

What is there to do at Glacier National Park?

There are many things to do at Glacier National parks such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, photography, and much more! If you want to go for a hike, then you should visit the Going To The Sun Road Trail which takes about 6 hours roundtrip and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Hike the famous Highline Trail

This hike is a perfect representation of the park’s natural, wild beauty. It’s frequently rated as an of the best hiking trails that you can do in Glacier National Park!

From glacier views to wildflowers to wildlife viewings From wildlife sightings to glacier views, the Highline Trail truly has it everything. Although the hike is lengthy there’s not much elevation gain, which makes it an ideal hike for all fitness levels.

Hike of the highline trail at glacier national park
Hike of the highline trail at glacier national park

Catch a sunrise at Two Medicine Lake

Two Medicine Lake is located in Glacier National Park, Montana. The lake has two parts: Upper and Lower Two Medicine Lake. Both lakes are connected by a narrow strip of land called Two Medicine Pass. The pass was named after the Native American tribe who lived along its shores.

Go on a backpacking trip

Are you ready to take a backpacking trip? If yes, then you should definitely consider visiting Glacier National Park. This beautiful park has some amazing hiking trails, scenic views, and wildlife.

Glacier National Park is known for its breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, and stunning natural beauty. In addition to these features, the park offers visitors a variety of recreational activities such as hiking, biking, horse riding, boating, swimming, and photography.

Glacier National Park Camping

Glacier National Park is located in Montana, USA. The park has over 2 million acres of land and is home to some of the tallest mountains in North America. There are also plenty of hiking trails and campgrounds throughout the park.

Fca c

Camping at Glacier National Park is a great way to enjoy nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. If you plan to visit the park, check out our guide below for camping tips and information.

Go fly fishing

Fly fishing is a great way to relax and unwind after a long day at work or school. It also offers some amazing opportunities to catch fish. The question is, how often should you go fly fishing?

Explore the park on horseback

Horse riding has always been a great way to explore nature. The beauty of the outdoors is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. If you haven’t done it before, now is the time to try out horse riding.

You can ride horses through the trails of the park or even take part in guided tours. There are also plenty of activities you can enjoy during your stay. For example, you can go fishing, hiking, camping, swimming, boating, bird watching, photography, hunting, cross-country skiing, and much more.

Spend a night at Granite Park Chalet

Do you want to live in a beautiful chalet at Granite Park Resort? This resort offers a variety of accommodation options, from luxury condos to rustic cabins. If you haven’t booked yet, now might be the time to consider staying at Granite Park Chalet.

Granite park chalet
Granite park chalet

Granite Park Chalets offer a unique experience in a secluded location. The resort has two main areas: the village area and the mountain area. The village area features a wide range of amenities such as restaurants, shops, spas, golf courses, a swimming pool, tennis courts, etc.

The mountain area consists of three chalets (one of them being the Granite Park Chalet). These chalets feature private decks, fireplaces, hot tubs, saunas, and much more.

Hike to a glacier

Hiking is great exercise, but sometimes you want to get away from it all. If you live near a national park or forest, why not take advantage of its natural beauty?

Go whitewater rafting

What’s better than spending time outdoors in nature? Rafting down a river in Montana or Idaho. The scenery is breathtaking, and the adrenaline rush is incredible. If you haven’t done it before, now is the perfect time to try out this outdoor adventure sport.

Rafting through the mountains is a great way to get away from city life. There are several companies offering guided trips throughout the US. Some even offer overnight adventures where you’ll stay at a lodge along the route.

Hangout on the rocky shores of one of Glacier’s many lakes

Glacier National Park is home to some of the largest glaciers in North America. The park has over 100 lakes, ranging from tiny ponds to massive lakes covering thousands of acres. These lakes are fed by glacial meltwater and provide a habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife.

In addition to being beautiful, these lakes also serve important functions. They act as water storage tanks during droughts and store excess snowmelt during wetter years.

Glacier national park

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Hikers can choose from several trails throughout the park. Some popular hikes include:

  • Alyeska Pass Trail – Located near Alyeska, Alaska, this trail has stunning views of Mount Logan and Lake McDonald.
  • Avalanche Peak Trail – This trail takes hikers to the top of Avalanche Peak where they can view the Columbia River Gorge.
  • Beartrap Canyon Trail – Hikers on this trail must be prepared for steep climbs and descents. They may encounter some loose rock as well as slippery spots.
  • Belly River Trail – This trail offers great scenery with beautiful waterfalls and lush vegetation.
  • Chief Mountain Trail – This hike takes you past lakes, meadows, and forests. You will see the highest peak in the park, Mount Lewis.
  • Chittenden Locks Trail – This trail passes through the largest concentration of wetlands in North America.
  • Colter Bay Trail – Located at the south end of the park, this trail goes over an old railroad bridge that crosses the Kintla River.
  • Crown Point Trail – This trail winds around the mountainside and offers amazing views of the valleys and cliffs.
  • Discovery Ridge Trail – This trail takes you to the top of a mountain ridge overlooking the lake.
  • Echo Lakes Trail – This trail follows the shoreline of Lake McDonald.
  • Emerald Basin Trail – This trail runs along the shores of Emerald Basin.
  • Goat Creek Trail – This trail is located next to Goat Creek which flows out of the park.
  • Lake McDonald Trail – This trail takes visitors to the base of Lake McDonald.
  • Logan Pass Trail – This trail takes travelers to the summit of Mount Logan.
  • McDonald Creek Trail – This trail travels alongside McDonald Creek.
  • Mowich Lake Trail – This trail is named after Robert Mowich who was the first superintendent of Glacier National Park. It begins at the north end of the park and ends at the south entrance.
  • Mount Wilbur Trail – This trail is one of the most challenging hikes in the park. It takes hikers up to the top of Mount Wilbur.
  • North Fork Flathead River Trail – This trail is only accessible by boat or float plane. It is located on the Flathead River.
  • Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail – This trail takes people through a tunnel carved out of solid granite.
  • Rampart Ridge Trail – This trail is very strenuous and requires hikers to climb more than 3,000 feet in elevation.
  • Rimrock Trail – This trail is a moderate hike that takes hikers to the top rim of the valley.
  • Rob Roy Falls Trail – This trail is short but scenic. It starts off near the Rob Roy Lodge and ends at Rob Roy Falls.
  • Sawtooth Ridge Trail – This trail traverses the mountainside and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
  • Sentinel Dome Trail – This trail is part of the Continental Divide Trail. It takes hikers to the top of Sentinel Dome.
  • Sheep Creek Trail – This trail takes the hiker to the Sheep Creek Campground.
  • Shoshone Lake Trail – This trail takes guests to Shoshone Lake.
  • Siyeh Bend Trail – This trail leads to Siyeh Bend.
  • St. Mary’s Glacier Trail – This trail takes tourists to St. Mary’s Glacier.
  • Sunrise Lake Trail – This trail allows visitors to get close to Sunrise Lake.
  • Takshanuk Glacier Trail – This trail provides access to Takshanuk Glacier.
  • Two Medicine Trail – This trail is known for its stunning views of Two Medicine Valley.
  • Upper Geyser Basin Trail – This trail takes users to the geothermal hot springs in Upper Geyser Basin.
  • West Thumb Trail – This trail is best suited for experienced hikers. It is also known as the “Grand Loop” because it connects all of the major trails in the park.
  • Whitefish Mountain Resort – A ski resort with lifts, restaurants, shops, and lodging.

Glacier national park

People Also Ask

What is the best month to visit Glacier National Park?

The best months to visit Glacier National Park are June through August. This is when the park has the least amount of visitors, which means you’ll be able to experience the park at its quietest. If you want to avoid crowds, try visiting during the off-season.

Is Glacier National Park or Yellowstone better?

Both parks offer great hiking opportunities, beautiful scenery, wildlife viewing, and unique geology. However, Yellowstone has more natural hot springs, while Glacier offers more glaciers. If you want to hike in the mountains, then both parks are excellent choices.

How much does it cost to go to Glacier National Park in Montana?

The entrance fee for Glacier National Park is $25 per vehicle, which includes parking fees. If you plan to visit during peak season, such as summer, you may need to book your trip well in advance.

However, these prices change – you can see the latest pricing here

What city should I stay in to visit Glacier National Park?

The best place to stay in order to visit Glacier National Park is Whitefish, Montana. This is because Whitefish has all the amenities needed for visitors such as hotels, restaurants, gas stations, etc. Also, Whitefish is located near Glacier National Park, which makes it easy to access.

Glacier national park

Can you see Northern Lights in Glacier National Park?

Yes, you can see the northern lights in Glacier National Park during the winter months. The park has some of the best views of the aurora borealis in North America. If you want to see them, you should go between December and March when the skies are clear.

What airport do you fly into for Glacier National Park?

The closest airport to Glacier National Park is Kalispell Regional Airport. This airport has direct flights from Seattle, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis/St Paul, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Dallas.

Which is better Yosemite Park or Glacier National Park?

Yosemite Park is a national park located in California, USA, while Glacier National Park is a national park in Montana, USA. Both parks offer beautiful scenery, hiking trails, wildlife, and waterfalls.

However, Yosemite has much more natural beauty and is home to some of the world’s best-known landmarks such as Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Bridalveil Falls. On the other hand, Glacier National Park offers visitors stunning views of glaciers, mountains, lakes, and rivers.

The two parks are both great places for outdoor activities like camping, fishing, boating, swimming, and horseback riding.

Glacier national park

What is the climate like in Glacier National Park?

Because it is located in the Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park receives an average annual rainfall of about 50 inches. During summer months, temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, winter brings heavy snowfall which makes travel difficult.

During the winter season, the temperature drops below freezing, and wind chills can drop down to minus 40 degrees Celsius.

When should I go to Glacier National Park?

You can enjoy the park anytime between May and October. Summer months bring higher temperatures and more visitors than other seasons.

However, the park closes during the winter season due to heavy snowfalls. If you want to avoid crowds, then plan your trip during spring or fall.

How do I get around Glacier National Park?

There are no public transport services available in the park. You will need to rent a car or take a tour bus to explore the park.

If you prefer not to drive, there are also guided tours available for those who wish to walk through the park. These tours include hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and canoeing.


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