When you arrive at Glacier National Park, one look at the National Park Service map will tell you that there’s a ton to do here. It’s a rugged, expansive park with over a million acres of open public land, where hiking, driving, and exploring take time.
Let’s narrow the options then. If you’re journeying to Glacier for the first time, prioritize our top five ‘don’t miss’ spots in the park below. And definitely add a milkshake—either from West Glacier Café on the west side or the Curly Bear at St. Mary Village on the east side.
If you head west on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the descent brings just as much awe as the climb. Saint Mary Lake, with its tour boats and iconic island—Wild Goose Island—is worth stopping for. Have some lunch, take a boat ride, go for a paddle or just soak up the views of glacial-carved valleys. The east side of Glacier Park has a unique wildness we love.
It would be silly to drive over Logan Pass and not stop in the visitor center! Rangers are there to answer questions and the staff are friendly and happy to help. Walk the scenic loop by the center to read up on some history and grab a souvenir in the gift shop that supports the Glacier Park Conservancy. Come early or late in the day for parking, or ride the free shuttle.
If you can make the short (but totally uphill!) trek on the boardwalk (mostly—there's some ground trail at the end) to the Hidden Lake Overlook, it is 100 percent worth it. Gaze at rugged peaks above the serene lake for one of the easier Glacier Park views.
Fire lookouts are an essential part of the history of the park, and many of them are still manned today. If you’re staying at Apgar or the West Glacier RV Park, Huckleberry Lookout is a close yet challenging and exposed five mile climb that rewards you with a fantastic view. Once you get to the fire lookout, be respectful of the staff living and working there, but often they will field some questions if they’re not busy with wildfires.
Talk about sweeping views—gazing up at the historic lodge with the peaks of Glacier behind it is about as Montana as it gets. This family-friendly heritage hotel is a perfect stop for exploring Glacier Park. And it oozes with classic Montana vibes. We love that there are no TVs in the rooms, so families play games in the lobby and guests chat in the hallways. Stay more than one night to enjoy a game of golf.
Explore Glacier from north of the border to see a truly different side of the park. Make the trek to Canada's Waterton National Park via the Chief Mountain border crossing if you’re coming from the States. In Waterton, you can’t miss the Prince of Wales Hotel (take some photos above the lake at least!), and then head to the docks to board the boat tour, which motors south to Goat Haunt (back on the American side of the border) three times a day. It’s one memorable trip for an adventurer of any age.
Now it's time for adventure!