Things to Do in Glacier National Park

Montana Glacier National Park has been on my wish list for quite some time. Rumors about Montana’s beauty had been swirling in my outside circles and my Instagram feed for years, seducing me.

When I saw it myself, I understood what it was about. The water is crystal clear, the wildlife is abundant, and the stars are incredible. And where else do you have accessible glaciers in the lower 48?

Like many people in transit, I had to count my time, because I had no more than a few days to enjoy it, even if I had already planned to return.

Here are the best things to do in Glacier National Park. I only had two days to explore, and there’s a lot more here than you can do in 48 hours, but this should help you choose your must-sees.

There are different areas of the park, with different East and west entrance possibilities. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to start from the West (western entrance to the glacier) and East, starting with the side I’ve explored the most, and what you’re closest to if you’re flying to Kalispell or if you’re coming from Idaho.

1. McDonald Lake

Perhaps the most famous lake in Glacier National Park, McDonald Lake is the largest in the park, about 10 miles long. Like most others, it is characterized by its incredibly clear water, colorful rocks, and the mountains that frame it for a perfect sunset or sunrise.

This was my first stop in the park; if you come from the west entrance to the glacier, it will probably be yours too. There are several places along the lake where you can stop to enjoy it; if you arrive at sunrise or sunset, you can avoid the crowds.

2. Avalanche Gorge and more

Avalanche Gorge and Avalanche Lake are two of the most accessible things on this list. The Cedar loop path leading to the gorge is wheelchair accessible, completely flat, and quite short. It is also one of the most popular trails in the park for this reason.

You can add another kilometer to get to the lake, if you feel so inclined, which will lift you up. That said, the next Lake on this list is worth a visit if you’re short on time.

3. The road to Logan Pass

You are on the Route du Soleil from the moment you enter the park from the western entrance to the glacier and when you get past McDonald Lake. This route is great in terms of views and the perfect way to see the main features of the park. Please note that the road is also quite narrow and can become very popular in the summer. I advise you to leave as soon as the sun rises if you plan to park at Logan Pass, from where the following starting points depart.

4. Hidden Lake

I was amazed at Hidden Lake. I had almost everything to myself when I went there stargazing in the dark. Since Glacier National Park is a dark sky park, and because I was there during the confluence of several meteor showers, I just had to experience it in the dark. After a lot of research, I found out that the Milky Way would be perfectly located for the good photography of the lake.

To get there, park at Logan Pass. You have a few options for this hike, including ending at the viewpoint a mile away or walking three miles to the lake. The path is fairly flat to the viewpoint, then has a few steep sections leading to the lake.

Keep in mind that this is grizzly bear country and it’s a good idea to carry bear spray, which I bought at Middlefork Cabins, where I stayed. It is also available for rent at Logan Pass. Bears rarely strike groups, but as a solo Walker, it was a risk to go down alone, especially in the dark. Just something to keep in mind!

5. Highline Trail

The Highline Trail was my big hike during my visit to Glacier National Park, and it didn’t disappoint! I started it as soon as the sun rose, watching the rays of light dancing through the mountains.

The hike can start at the loop or at Logan Pass. You can walk back and forth, or go all the way to the loop and take a bus back. Please note that buses can be full in the summer — if you finish after, you may have to hitchhike (it’s Okay-I took a hitchhiker myself!).

I did the trail as a lap, adding the viewpoint on the Grinnell Glacier. Although it was a very steep last mile on an otherwise quite gentle trail, the view at the end was worth it. My trip total was 15 miles (it would have been 13 if I had gone to the loop instead). Keep in mind that this path is usually uncovered, it is very hot in the afternoon in summer and it is very popular. There are some steep descents, which can disturb those who are afraid of heights. Still, if you start early or go out of season, you can have a lot ahead of you.

6. Many Glaciers

The glacier is a valley that many consider the most beautiful part of the park. It is accessible from the entrance St. Head east, after which you will also find the famous Grinnell Glacier Trail.

If you go there from Going-to-The-Sun Road, you should also stop at Lake St. Mary, especially to admire the sunrise or sunset overlooking Wild Goose Island.

7. Grinnell Glacier Trail

This was the path I was aiming for when I started looking at options in Glacier National Park. It has it all in terms of views and ends with an aquamarine lake and the famous Grinnell Glacier. The route starts at the pier of many boats of the Glacier Hotel, where it is possible to take a boat for part of the trip.

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