There is no other place I’ve visited that comes close to the beauty and experience that Glacier National Park offers. It’s a National Park filled with remote wilderness, aqua glacial lakes, majestic mountains, and vast glaciers. To say this was the most anticipated stop on my road trip is an understatement!
Because there’s so much to see and experience, I planned for a three-day stop. Although much of the hikes I’d picked were in West Glacier, the Howe-Ridge fire on the east side interrupted my original plan. Going to the Sun Road – the main road through the park – was closed at Logan Pass and several trails were also closed because of increased bear activity as a result of them migrating away from the fire. Despite the disruptions, I managed to squeeze in two beautiful hikes and got a quick taste of the beauty Glacier has to offer.
Hiking in Glacier is a truly unique experience and offered rewards beyond my imagination but it also woke up many muscles I didn’t know I had!
My outdoor mantra is to not let fear of not knowing how to do something right keep me from enjoying the beauty and wonder of the outdoors. I respected my fear of the difficult terrain and the remote nature of trails, so I did a lot of research on the hikes, downloaded offline maps, and carried rainproof paper maps, plenty of water and the other ten essentials. So if something did go awry, I’d have the means to help myself. So even though I was anxious about hiking in a remote Park like Glacier, I felt prepared for the unexpected and trusted myself to make the decisions that would keep me safe!
Just because we may only see challenging hikes and picture perfect moments on summits on our social media feeds it doesn’t mean that National Parks are not for hikers of all experiences and level. And Glacier was no different!
– Grinnell Glacier Overlook
– Grinnell Glacier Lake
– Hidden Lake
Because the Glacier is remote and covers over a million acres, close attention to travel logistics is a big part of planning for a visit. There are three airports and Amtrak’s Empire Builder line that serve Glacier National Park. Although the hotels within the Park provide shuttles from the train station to the Agpar Visitor Center or the Lake McDonald lodge for a fee and reservations are required, it is advisable to have a car when visiting here.
Access to West Glacier
– Glacier Park International Airport (30 mi)
– Missoula International Airport (150 mi)
East & Other Entrances
– Great Falls International Airport (130-165 mi)
– West Glacier (Belton, MT)
– Isaak Walton Inn (Essex, MT)
– East Glacier Station, open seasonally
As with other National Parks, there is an entrance fee to entry Glacier National Park. Summer rates are listed below and winter rates which are slightly lower can be found on the park website.
– Cars/Other Vehicles, $35; Bicycle/Walk-In, $20 (Seven Day Pass)
– Annual Glacier Pass, $70 (unlimited visits to Glacier)
– Annual National Park Pass, $80 (unlimited entrance to any public lands operated by NPS)
There is no shortage of lodging options from historic grand hotels, backcountry chalets, motels, to campgrounds at Glacier!
There are nine hotels, motels and chalets in Glacier National Park. Many Glacier Hotel, tucked in the shadow of Grinnell Glacier is the grandest accommodation and largest hotel in the Park. Even in in this luxury, expect rooms to offer only modest accommodations (i.e., no television or air-conditioning).
Rates vary between $200-550/night depending on the type of room. Hotel lodging fills up fast especially during the peak season of July and August.
West Glacier Hotels
– Agpar Lodge
– Rising Sun Motor Inn
– Village Inn Motel
East & Other Entrance Hotels
– Lake MacDonald Lodge
– Motel Lake MacDonald
– Many Glacier Hotel
– Swiftcurrent Motor Inn
Backcountry Chalets (requires hiking for overnight accommodations)
– Sperry Chalet
– Granite Park Chalet
While I enjoy a nice hotel stay, I think the best way to take in all the beauty of Glacier is to camp. I spent my two nights in Glacier at St. Mary’s Campground. From the beautiful stars overhead, calm breeze from the lake, to the blue haze from the moon reflecting off the mountains and lake, it was one of the best camping experiences of my life.
There are 13 campgrounds which offer over 1,000 campsites. Four of them accept reservations up to six months in advance and the remaining campgrounds are first-come, first-served. Amenities and the prices ($10-23/night) of each campsite varies by campground.
West Entrance Campgrounds
– Agpar Group Site (accepts reservations)
– Fish Creek (accepts reservations)
– Rising Sun
– Sprague Creek
– St. Mary’s (accepts reservations)
East Entrance Campgrounds
– Bowman Lake
– Kintla Lake
– Logging Creek
– Quartz Creek
Many Glacier Campgrounds
– Many Glacier (accepts reservations)
Two Medicine Campgrounds
– Cut Bank
– Two Medicine