Glacier National Park holds the double benefits of being one of the National Park System’s most remote and beautiful parks. While technically located not far from Whitefish, Montana, its over 1 million acres of land actually straddles the US-Canadian border. And yet, even with it’s remoteness from the rest of the country, the park still sees over 2 million visitors each year, that tells you just how special it really is!
What makes Glacier really a showstopper is it’s beauty. While all the National Parks are designed to showcase the pristine natural wonders of America, there are few parks that capture so much of it in one place. In Glacier National Park you can find not only glaciers but also crystal clear lakes, rugged mountains, wildflower dotted meadows and beautiful forests.
The park is also one that has seen significant changes over its lifetime. When Glacier first became a park in 1910, there were over 150 glaciers that dotted the scenery, now, there are only 25, and most experts feel there will be no glaciers left in the park in the next 20-30 years.
The first order of business for most visitors to Glacier National Park is to enjoy a bit of hiking. Well, here, there is plenty of it with over 700 miles of trails. For the more experienced hikers, the Highline Loop is often listed as the “bucket list” hike at Glacier, it’s got amazing views of the park. A more slightly more moderate (and less crowded) version of the hike can be found on the Piegan Pass trail.
For beginner or moderate hikers, there are plenty of options inside the park, with over 60 different hikes well suited for a day trip, you can find the perfect trail for you. The Hidden Lake Overview trail is a great place to start to get some amazing views of the park. If you love waterfalls, consider the Bedrock Falls or Virginia Falls trails, both as easy walks and provide breathtaking up close interactions with waterfalls.
Ranger Led Activities
Perhaps because of both the remoteness of the park and the large size, Glacier National Park has an abundance of ranger-led activities for you to enjoy. These are the perfect things to jump into if you aren’t quite sure where to start, have limited time, or would like to learn a little bit more about the park while you’re there.
The ranger-led activities happen all year round, from snowshoeing walks in the winter months, to hikes, evening talks, Native American programs, boat tours, and photo walks in the spring and summer. Many of the talks are lead at the three amphitheaters in the park.
If you do bring your own car to get to Glacier National Park, you have to take the time to spend a few hours driving along the Going to the Sun Road. This 50-mile long stretch of road winds around glaciers, mountains, lake, and prairies to give you a truly magnificent view of the park. During the summer months, the park provides a shuttle that takes in part of the road for visitors to see. Parts of Going to the Sun Road are currently under construction, so be sure to check the road status before you set out.
Unlike many of the more remote National Parks, Glacier is set up to welcome many campers. With over 1,000 sites spread across 13 campgrounds, you’ll be able to choose the right camp to suit your own needs. There are also back country camping opportunities, but remember these are for experienced campers who know to keep an eye out for bear and mountain lion!
Have you been to Glacier National Park? What’s your favorite part of it? Let us know in the comments!