Visiting Glacier National Park for the first time? We're here to help.
Glacier’s sprawling, diverse scenery is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. But with this plethora of places to explore comes a challenge — how do you make the most of your time while visiting the park?
That’s where we come in. The reservations department at Glacier Park Collection has helped countless guests create their dream trips. Through insider knowledge and years of experience, our team can help you plan your perfect Glacier National Park getaway too.
Here are our top tips for how to plan your trip to Glacier National Park.
- Come for at least five days. A weekend trip just won’t do. There is so much to see and do in the park that many visitors come back year after year and still find new places to explore.
To maximize your time, consider a four-night visit: two nights in West Glacier and two nights in East Glacier. There are several lodging options in each side of the park, including West Glacier Village and Motel Lake McDonald on the west side and Glacier Park Lodge on the east side.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have your passport handy, cross the Canadian border and visit the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park as well.
- Bring your car. Although shuttles run throughout the park, you’ll need a car to reach some of the best spots. Many trailheads are in remote locations not serviced by the shuttle system. However, if you do need a ride, be sure to check the shuttle schedule and routes before heading out on your adventure.
- Stock up on supplies while you’re in town. Columbia Falls and Whitefish have large grocery stores that make stocking up for your trip a breeze. Once you arrive at the park, your purchasing options become much more limited.
We suggest loading up on supplies before you reach the park, then picking up your general campfire supplies at West Glacier Mercantile or the St. Mary Grocery Store. Make sure to drop by these charming shops for a souvenir or tasty treat at some point during your stay too.
- Sign up for activities. There are plenty of exciting activities to help you explore the park in a more guided setting. If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity, we recommend horseback riding or an afternoon on the ropes course.
Of course, there’s no better way to experience the park than by the river. And no one knows Glacier’s waterways quite like Glacier Raft Company. With an experienced team and a history dating back over 45 years, Glacier Raft Co. is the perfect choice for a guided day on the Flathead River.
- Get out on the trails. From the Two Medicine Valley to St. Mary Valley, there are over 700 miles of hiking trails in Glacier National Park. Never set foot on a mountain trail before? No problem! The hikes in Glacier National Park range from one-mile interpretive nature walks to challenging 20-mile treks.
Hiking is an extremely popular activity during the summer, so arrive early to secure a parking spot ahead of the midday crowds. Remember to check the trail status report and always pack bear spray and extra water when hiking in Glacier National Park. Check out some local favorite hikes below.
- Eat lots of ice cream. There’s nothing more refreshing than a big scoop of ice cream after a long day of adventuring. Grab a cone from the Cedar Tree Gift Shop, stroll down to the shores of Lake McDonald and take in the view. Or, pick up scoops for the whole family after a round at Golfing to the Sun Mini Golf.
- Make new friends. Montana has a way of making you feel right at home. More often than not, locals and seasonal staff alike will jump at the opportunity to offer helpful insider tips with a smile. Take the time to strike up a conversation with your neighbor - you never know what you’ll learn!
Local favorite hikes in Glacier
- Hidden Lake Overlook (Going-to-the-Sun Road): Easy, 2.7 miles, 540 ft. elevation gain.
- St. Mary Falls/Virginia Falls (St. Mary Valley): Moderate, 3.6 miles, 525 ft. elevation gain.
- Apgar Lookout (West Glacier): Difficult, 7.1 miles, 1,845 ft. elevation gain.
- Scenic Point (Two Medicine Valley): Difficult, 8 miles, 2,300 ft. elevation gain.
- Iceberg Lake (Many Glacier Valley): Difficult, 9.6 miles, 1,200 ft. elevation gain.