Updated: Jan 4
Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park supplies water to three separate oceans (Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic)
Table of Contents
What you should not miss at Glacier National Park
1. Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road
This is the main road the divides the park and the way to get from Lake McDonald > Logan Pass > Rising Sun > Many Glacier. The road is VERY narrow in parts and it is called "going-to-the-sun" because you are climbing the mountain to its peak (Logan Pass).
The views are breathtaking and absolutely incredible, however be cautious of falling rock. This is the road that all of the below hikes start from. These hikes are ordered based on the direction of the road starting from west to east.
Tip: Make sure to pull off the road at viewpoints when taking in the scenery. This road is very narrow with many sharp curves.
[0.9 miles; 49 ft. Elevation Gain; Loop; Difficulty: Easy]
A few minutes up the road from McDonald Falls is parking for "Trail of the Cedars". This is an easy boardwalk hike that loops through amazingly historic cedar trees.
Tip: An easy, family-friendly hike with incredible scenery
[5.9 miles; 575 ft. Elevation Gain; Out & Back; Difficulty: Moderate]
A half-mile into "Trail of the Cedars" the trailhead for "Avalanche Lake" will appear. This is a more moderate hike with a bit of elevation. It is an in-and-out hike that leads to a stunning view of Avalanche Lake (pictured below). Glacier is a great place to see shades of green and blue you never thought existed in nature. Avalanche Lake is one of those spots that transports you to a lush and vibrant paradise.
J&L Recommended: Top hike in Glacier
This is the highest elevation of the "Going-to-the-Sun-Road" and the starting point for several hikes. Popular hikes that start here are the Highline Trail (difficult) & Hidden Lake Overlook (moderate). If you are doing any hikes longer than 6 miles in a group less than 3, we recommend scheduling a ranger-led hike for your safety.
Tip: You can schedule any guided hikes at Logan's Pass visitor center for any upcoming dates.
[2.9 miles; 567 ft. Elevation Gain; Out & Back; Difficulty: Moderate]
This trail is directly behind the Logan Pass Visitor's Center and a moderate hike. The scenery is beautiful, and although a simple hike, this was one of our favorites. This is your best chance to see wildlife as you are hiking through open fields. We came across many mountain goats. One of the mountain goats even posed for us!
J&L Recommended: Great place to spot wildlife!
[11.2 miles; 2181 ft. Elevation Gain; Out & Back; Difficulty: Hard]
This is a difficult hike, but our absolute favorite! It starts in Many Glacier at Many Glacier Hotel at 8:30am. If the boat is full or you do not want to buy tickets, you can hike one mile to the other side of the lake where you can reconnect with the ranger at the beginning of the hike. If you do not feel the need to hike with a ranger, the AllTrails hike begins in the parking lot to the west side of Swiftcurrent Lake.
Be prepared with waterproof clothing & get your camera ready for the most incredible views! This hike ends at the base of Grinnell Glacier (pictured below), a 710 acre glacier that is retreating every day. This was by-far the most rewarding hike we have ever done as we hiked it in a wild rain-storm.
J&L Recommended: One of our favorite hikes in Glacier!
Treat yourself to Huckleberry ice cream at Swiftmotor Inn down the road from Many Glacier Hotel. They also have washers and dryers if you need to do laundry.
[9.3 Miles; 1450 ft. Elevation Gain; Out & Back; Difficulty: Moderate]
This is another ranger-led hike that starts at Many Glacier at 8:30am. It leads to a lake filled with icebergs surrounded by 2,000 ft wall. We did not get to do this hike due to our limited time, however, it is first on our agenda when we return to Glacier.
[14.9 miles; 2578 ft Elevation Gain; Out & Back; Difficulty: Hard]
This is another range led hike option that starts at Logan's Pass. It winds atop the continental divide, also know as the Garden Wall, and ends with a fascinating birds-eye view of Grinnell Glacier. Another hike that is first on our list when we return!
Tip: You can schedule this guided hike at Logan's Pass visitor center
9. Two Medicine Area
70 miles (1 hour 40 min by car) from Fish Creek Campground, on the southern part of Glacier National Park. Two Medicine Lake is a gorgeous sight that is surrounded by many hiking trails and picnic areas.
Tip: Two Medicine is a hidden gem with incredible views and very few people.
[7.4 miles; 2352 ft. Elevation Gain, Out & Back; Difficulty: Hard]
This hike along with Grinnell Glacier is one of our favorites. We found this hike thanks to a recommendation from a local and now we are recommending it to you! It is the definition of a hidden gem, considering we only came across three people during the entire duration of our hike. As the elevation gain shows, this hike is filled with a steady incline with multiple switchbacks. However, the view from the top is certainly worth the effort!
J&L Recommended: One of our favorite hikes in Glacier!
[0.6 miles; 26 ft. Elevation Gain; Loop; Difficulty: Easy]
This is also known as "trick falls" because it looks like the water is falling mid-falls instead of at the top. A quick, easy, flat hike on your way to New Medicine Lake (scenic point trailhead).
12. Appistoki Falls
[1.2 Miles; 164 ft. Elevation Gain; Out & Back; Difficulty: Easy]
This is a shorter version of the Scenic Point trail if hiking elevation is not for you. It starts at the same trail head, however, you will just turn around once you reach Appistoki Falls, instead of continuing on to scenic point.
Restaurants within and surrounding Glacier National Park
1. Camping Food
We stopped at the grocery store before heading into the park, stocked up on bread, pasta, beans, fruits, veggies, and other non-refrigerated goods. These groceries lasted us the whole trip. For quick warm meals, we would highly recommend a Jet Boil.
Also Read: Camping Hacks
When you are sick of having pasta for every meal, check out Jammer Joe's in the Lake McDonald Lodge. Great pizza, buffet option, and close to Fish Creek Campground.
Also Read: Hiking in Bear Territory
3. Hand-Dipped Huckleberry Ice Cream
Huckleberry ice cream is a MUST HAVE while in Glacier. Try some of the hand-dipped ice cream at Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge in Many Glacier.
A great place to stop and grab a bite to eat outside of the park, in the adorable town of Whitefish. We had burgers with huckleberry jam, a great way to start off our trip to Glacier. Whitefish was our favorite little town outside of the park, definitely worth stopping by!
Also Read: Yellowstone National Park Complete Guide
Locations in Whitefish & Columbia Falls, this place has great coffee, a great atmosphere, and is a great place to stop for breakfast as well!
The best breweries in the Flathead Valley
1. Bonsai Brewing Project [Whitefish, MT]
This brewery is a great reason to go check out the quaint town of Whitefish. Support the bees by trying their Lil Blonde Honey ale made with local Montana honey. Bonsai Brewing also specializes in barrel aged brews, such as their Snagglepuss Sour Ale brewed in white wine barrels or their Cranky Sheriff Brown Ale brewed in red wine and bourbon barrels. Sit back and relax in their beer garden with one of their unique tasting beers and some delicious pub food after a long day hiking the beautiful park of Glacier.
Also Read: Top 8 Michigan Craft Breweries
2. Kalispell Brewing Company [Kalispell, MT]
Featuring their Cloudcroft IPA, Two Ski Brewski Pilsner, Winter at Noon Dunkel, & Snow Slip Stout. The brewery has welcoming, friendly staff, offers food trucks outside, as well as, free popcorn. The pints are 12oz with prices starting at $3.75.
3. Backslope Brewing Company [Columbia Falls, MT]
Brewery in Columbia Falls right outside of Glacier National Park. It is highly reviewed, has great brews, and pairs nicely with one of their juicy burgers. Featuring their Pilgrim Blonde, Crooked Wind IPA, Dr. Randolph's All Day Porter, & Foreman Stout. This brewery is roughly 20 min from the park entrance.
Also Read: Asheville Brew Tour
Planning Your Trip
What is the best lodging in Glacier National Park?
If you prefer to stay at a hotel within Glacier, there are several lodges and inns throughout the park that can be reserved here.
J&L Recommended Lodging: You can also find great hotel deals in the nearby town of Kalispell or Whitefish here.
Camping - Fish Creek Campground
Fish Creek Campground has the best views, friendly staff, and clean facilities. Below is a picture of Lake McDonald, from a trail near our campsite. If you are not a camper we highly recommend checking out Columbia Falls, a cute and quaint town right outside the park, or staying at one of the park's lodges.
J&L Recommended Lodging: Fish Creek Campground
Glacier Camping Safety Tips
Read up on Bear Safety ahead of your trip - 300 grizzly bears live in Glacier
Before entering the park, buy bear mace from a store in Kalispell or Columbia Falls (over-priced in the park) - We used Frontiersmen and although we never needed to use it, felt it was a reliable choice.
Bring a separate set of clothes to only wear in the tent to avoid the scent of food that could be on your clothes throughout the day
Bring waterproof jackets/pants
Bring winter clothes for sleeping at night (warm during the day but drops significantly at night)
Also Read: Hiking in Bear Territory
How long should you spend in Glacier National Park?
Glacier is our favorite national park to this day. If it were up to us, we would live in this park. Since most people (including us) are not fortunate enough to have Glacier National Park in their backyard, we would recommend visiting for a minimum of 3-4 days. This will allow you enough time to complete our top recommended activities within Glacier National Park and the surrounding area.
J&L Suggested Duration: 3-4 Days
What is the best time of year to visit Glacier National Park?
The peak season for visitors at Glacier National Park is July and August. This is due to the warmer temperatures throughout the day (70's). However, even in peak summer, the temperatures can drop to the low 40's at night. We recommend packing many layers and dry clothes, especially if camping.
Average temperatures by month in Glacier National Park:
Month: High / Low
April: 48° / 25°
May: 58° / 33°
June: 66° / 39°
July: 75° / 44°
August: 75° / 42°
September: 64° / 36°
Does Glacier National Park have a shuttle?
In order to cover the vast territory of Glacier National Park efficiently, you will need to have or rent a car. If you do not have your own car to explore, check out the park's "jammers", historic red buses introduced in the 1930's. Additionally, there are a lot of backpacking trails that will allow you to explore certain sections of the park if you are looking for more seclusion. The below itinerary was completed with a car.
Is there cell service in Glacier National Park?
Plan on there being NO SERVICE within Glacier National Park. SAFETY TIP: learn how to download interactive maps to your phone that can give you driving, walking, & biking directions even without cellular service!