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Glacier Basics

When to Go

Summer. Road rehabilitation occurring on portions of the Going-to-the-Sun Road before and after the core summer season with possible closures. (Mid-June to mid-September delays will be limited to a maximum of 30-40 minutes during a one-way trip across Logan Pass.) All of Going-to-the-Sun Road is open about mid-June to mid-September; Chief Mountain International Highway, mid-May to late September. Trails at lower elevations are usually clear of snow by mid-June; higher trails can remain snowed-in until mid-July. Cross-country skiing is popular from December to April in areas of the park.

How to Get There

Approach West Glacier (from Kalispell, Montana, about 35 miles) and East Glacier Park from US 2. US 89 leads to Many Glacier and St. Mary in the east; US 89 and Mont. 17 (Chief Mountain International Hwy.) form the shortest connection between Glacier and Waterton Lakes. Coming from Canada, follow Alberta 2, 5, or 6. Amtrak trains from Chicago and Seattle stop year-round just outside the park at West Glacier (Belton), Essex, Browning, and East Glacier Park; by prior arrangement, buses take travelers into the park. Nearest airports: Kalispell and Great Falls, Montana; and Lethbridge, Alberta.

How to Visit

Spend your first day on and around the Going-to-the-Sun Road, considered by many one of the world’s most spectacular highways. On a second day, travel the Chief Mountain International Highway north to Waterton Lakes, enjoying the contrast of peak and prairie. Drive Waterton’s Akamina Parkway and Red Rock Parkway. Stay at least another day to visit Glacier’s Many Glacier. For a longer visit, drive to Two Medicine for a boat ride and walk to an exquisite lake, then continue on to the Walton Goat Lick Overlook, both also in Glacier. If you have the stamina and overnight reservations, hike or ride horseback to one of the two remaining chalets built in Glacier early in the 20th century by the Great Northern Railway.

Where to Stay

Glacier boasts a wide variety of lodging options, including full-service lodges, remote campgrounds, backcountry chalets, and motor inns.

Many Glacier Hotel, a Swiss-themed hotel on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake inside the park, is a great home base for excursions to Grinnell Glacier.

Lake McDonald Lodge offers guest rooms, cottages, and a motor inn on the shores of Glacier's largest lake.

Sperry Chalet can only be reached by hiking one of several trails that lead to the chalet (the shortest route, Sperry Trail, is 6.7 miles long), but guests will be greeted with hearty meals, homey lodgings, and sweeping views of Lake McDonald.

Frontcountry campgrounds generally operate on a first-come, first-served basis, though two campgrounds may be reserved in advance.

Backcountry campgrounds are maintained along many of the park's popular hiking trails. A Backcountry Use Permit is required for all overnight camping, and fees are charged per person, per night. Reserve a campground ahead of time, or drop by one of the backcountry permit-issuing stations before setting out.


Glacier's rugged terrain is as challenging as it is beautiful, so make sure you have the proper gear before hitting the trail. Plan ahead so that you know how much food and water to bring, and make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear. The weather can change quickly in the mountains, so be prepared for an unexpected storm or cold front.

Glacier encompasses hundreds of beautiful lakes and streams. Be cautious around swift glacial streams, moss-covered rocks, and slippery logs. Waterfalls and rivers can be extremely treacherous.

Spotting wildlife is always exciting, but wild animals—even fluffy marmots and mountain goats—can be very dangerous. Be cautious when photographing animals, and always stay at a safe distance. Don't approach or try to pet any wildlife.

Bears and mountain lions are generally elusive. If surprised by humans, these large animals can be extremely dangerous. Avoid startling them by announcing your presence and making plenty of noise on the trail. Never feed wild animals, and be cautious when storing food in campsites.

Park Website

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