So you're coming to Glacier this summer. Great news! Like any trip, you want to make the most of every moment.
Summer in the park means more sunshine for more hours. Many visitors are surprised by the long days — in early July, the sun rises around 5 AM and sets around 10 PM. That’s a lot of time to run around the craggy peaks of Glacier!
Here are a few ways to stretch those days out and find extra time to see more of Glacier:
1. Early morning magic
Get up to Logan Pass by 5:30 AM to watch the sunrise. It might sound impossible. But, just like catching the sunrise at the Grand Canyon, it’s a glorious moment that will stay with you forever.
Just do it! It’s easy if you’re staying at the Cabins at Apgar or in St. Mary Village. Set your alarm for 4:30 AM, hop out of bed even though it’s dark, and roll your crew out to the car. With coffee and zero traffic, you’ll be at Logan Pass in no time. Stay in the parking lot or wander up the trails, but keep an eye out for the wildlife that are up before the sun too.
Settle in and watch the blazing sky welcome the day, then drive down or embark on your hike just as the rest of the visitors are showing up. You’ve got hours on them! Onward!
2. Where to be at dusk
Lake McDonald is the place for a quiet evening in the park. Paddle out in a kayak or canoe as the sun goes down. Even if someone is with you, do your best to sit in silence for a few full minutes.
Let the quiet and immensity of the wild around you settle for a moment. Let it sink in. When you get away from cars and people, and it’s just you on the water, you’ll find that magic in nature. Often, alpenglow paints the peaks a soft shade of burnt rose.
You can rent a kayak at the Lake McDonald Lodge or bring your own.
3. Late night thrills
Two ranger-led activities offer a chaperoned way to appreciate an aspect of Glacier National Park that you might ultimately overlook during the day — the dark sky.
A few times each summer (check the ranger programs schedule for updated 2018 dates), the park hosts a full moon hike, featuring a few notes from a naturalist and sightings of the animals that come out in the dark. It’s not frightening though — it’s a fun, educational and compelling experience. We say: if the timing is right, don’t miss this one.
The second option is an astronomy talk at the St. Mary Visitor Center on the east side of Glacier National Park, or Apgar Visitor Center on the west side. These evenings include big telescopes, astronomy experts on hand and some energetic amateur astronomers. Learn about stars, galaxies and constellations, and also why protecting dark skies matters to everyone.
From the crack of dawn to the dark of night, Glacier is about stretching your days to the maximum. During the sometimes 'busy' hours of mid-day in the park, you'll be able to return to your home base and relax, wander off on a trail, hang out on the beach or even have a much-deserved nap! You've clearly got the day figured out.