Top Things to Do in Glacier National Park, MT
Glacier National Park in northern Montana is nicknamed the crown of the continent. This vast expanse of beautiful natural space includes snow-capped mountain peaks, deep glacial valleys, and sparkling alpine lakes swaying with icebergs. That crown jewel of the National Park Service attracts more than three million people each year – particularly during the high season between July and September.
The 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun is the only route that runs through the interior of the park and is often the hub for most visits. It connects the Apgar Visitor Center on the west side of the park with the St. Mary’s Visitor Center on the east. The third visitor center is at the highest point on the trail at Logan Pass, from where the trail reaches the Continental Divide.
Five of Glacier’s 13 camping sites are located along the Going-to-the-Sun Trail. Several picnic areas, trails, and trails also line the route. Besides its tireless architecture dating back to the 1930s, the route is also known for its stunning views of massive glacier valleys.
Hang out at Lake MacDonald and Apgar Village
Lake MacDonald is the largest mass of water in the Glacier and the center of activity on the western side of the park. The first stops for the visitors coming from West Glacier, as its south shore is less than two miles from the western entrance, making it quite the introduction.
Four campgrounds can be found in this ice-carved area of the park, including Apgar Campground, with the 194 sites available. Visitors here can also spend the night at the historic Lake McDonald Lodge built in 1910 on the waterside.
On the southwest shore, closest to the entrance station, the Apgar Village has resources such as a visitor’s center, general store, and a few casual restaurants. This area also houses concessionaires who offer non-motorized boat rentals and guided rides. Lake MacDonald Lodge, located on the east bank, has similar providers of recreation.
Crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass
Logan Pass is the highest point accessible by car in the park and is located at an elevation of 6,646 feet. It’s a prominent stopping point and roughly halfway up the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The backdrop of Mount Clements and the ice-clad Reynolds Mountains This postcard is high altitude, and its meadows are often brimming with wildflowers. From here, you have a great shot of Glacier’s greatness.
Two of Glacier’s most popular hiking trails begin at the Logan Pass Visitor Center. The Highline Trail runs from Logan Pass to the Granite Park Chalet, and the Hidden Lake Trail meanders through an area known as the Hanging Gardens before arriving at a stunning view of the namesake feature.
Common wildlife sightings in the area include badgers, mountain goats, and the occasional grizzly bear. Logan Pass is also often dotted with Bear Grass, the garden’s signature plants, throughout spring and summer. The Logan Pass Visitor Center is also located at the top of the trail, and provides excellent information on the surrounding landscape.
Take a tour of the East Side and St. Mary’s Lake
The 10-mile-long St. Mary’s Lake is the defining feature near the eastern entrance to Glacier National Park. The Visitor Center of St. Located in St. Mary Campground is also near the shores of the lake and is the second largest camping site in Glacier, with 148 sites available.
Going-to-the-Sun Road runs parallel to the north shore and offers stunning views of the lake. One of the most photographed features is the tiny Wild Goose Island, which appears to be floating in the middle of the water. Several pull-out areas along the banks also provide suitable places for a picnic or lakeside lounge.
Hiking trails that originate in the St. Mary’s Valley include St. Mary’s fall and the Siyah Trail from the Sunrift Gorge. Additional camping is located near Lake St. Mary’s at Rising Sun Campground, with accommodations offered at the Rising Sun Motor Inn.
Go for a walk for a day
Glacier National Park has more than 700 miles of trails stretching throughout the park. These designated footpaths lead to iconic landscapes such as shimmering glaciers, panoramic mountain trails, and iceberg-topped lakes. And for anyone who loves to walk a trail, Glacier National Park offers a true kid-friendly candy store hiking and backpacking mentality.
Some of the featured hikes in Glacier National Park include the Highline Trail at Logan Pass and Grinnell Glacier at Many Glacier. Some of the less crowded options include Cobalt Lake and Siyeh Pass. With so much to explore, it would take a decade of summer to hike every trail that passes through the park.
Spend the night at the camp
Due to its slightly remote location in northern Montana, the best way to experience the glacier is to spend the night. Glacier has 13 campgrounds within the park boundaries, and several private campgrounds are located near the park’s various entrances.
The largest campground, Apgar Campground, is also often fills until early morning throughout the summer. Saint Mary Campground, the largest on the east side of the park, routinely fills its capacity and is one of the few campgrounds to accept advanced reservations.
You can stay at the Many Glacier Hotel or the Lake McDonald Lodge
In many Glacier area of the park, the Many Glacier exudes natural charm mixed with the history of the park. First built in 1914 by the Great Northern Railway, it still includes today an iconic view of Mount Grinnell across Swift cornet Lake.
The Money Glacier Hotel isn’t the only historic residence within the park. On the west side, Lake McDonald Lodge has also stood the test of time and has provided memorable stays for over a century. Similar to the Many Glacier Hotel, Lake McDonald Lodge offers modern accommodations within a rustic setting. Televisions, air conditioning and the elevators are not available.