With Presidents Day on the horizon, we want you to plan like a park ranger before your visit. Here’s what you need...
Tucked away in northern Montana, Glacier National Park offers stunning alpine hikes, incredible wildlife-watching and fun activities on its lakes from boat rides to stand-up paddleboarding. Here are some of the top things to see and do while you’re in Glacier.
2024 Alert: During peak hours from May 24 through September 8, 2024, visitors to Glacier National Park will need a reservation to access portions of the park.
Eat at Lake McDonald Lodge
NPS/Jacob W Frank)
Built in 1913, Lake McDonald Lodge sits 10 miles from the West Entrance and is home to Russell’s Fireside Dining Room. Start the day off here with a continental buffet or a full breakfast buffet featuring wheat from Montana in the pancakes and Flathead Lake cherries covered in whipped cream.
Check Glacier National Park Lodges for up-to-date information on when lodging in the park is opening.
Hike to Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park (NPS/Jacob W. Frank)
Explore the Lake McDonald area by hiking 4.6 miles roundtrip to Avalanche Lake or do the shorter 0.7-mile roundtrip Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail that leaves from the same trailhead and passes through a hemlock and cedar forest.
Take a Red Bus Tour
(Photo: Getty Images)
Ride in the world’s oldest touring fleet of vehicles. Depart from the east or west sides of the park in these 1930s-era vintage buses with roll-back tops. They accommodate 17 people, four across on bench seating. The best part is the insider’s park scoop you get from extremely knowledgeable Red Bus drivers. Tours last between 2.5 -8 hours, depending on which one you choose.
Tip: Reservations for the season usually open in March at redbustours.glaciernationalparklodges.com/redbustours.
Ice cream at the Cedar Tree Gift Shop
Stop by the park’s largest gift store in Apgar to pick up Montana-made souvenirs, coffee or ice cream. See the old-growth cedar trees growing through the floor and ceiling. The trees occupied the area long before the store, so the builders let some stay.
Ride on a Historic Boat at Two Medicine
NPS Bill Hayden)
Explore this stunning but off-the-beaten path area on the eastern side of Glacier by boat. Towering above Two Medicine Lake is Rising Wolf Mountain, a well-photographed, conical mountain. Take the oldest wooden boat in Glacier Park Boat Co.’s fleet across Two Medicine Lake and learn about the area’s Blackfeet history. When the boat docks on the upper west shore, you can stay on the boat or disembark and hike with a naturalist or on your own to Twin Falls. Catch a different return boat or hike back.
Learn more by contacting Glacier Park Boat Company at 888-611-0747 or glacierparkboats.com.
NPS Jacob W Frank
You cannot visit Glacier without driving this legendary road that connects the park’s east and west sides. Opened July 15, 1933, it’s nearly 50 miles long and takes at least two hours to drive one way. Keep in mind that Glacier has a new day-use system in place. Learn about the reservation system.
Hike on Logan Pass
At 6,646 feet, Logan Pass is the inspiring high point of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Both Hidden Lake Overlook Trail and the Highline Trail leave from Logan Pass. Both offer breathtaking opportunities to spot wildlife. Look for Gracie, the dog charged with herding bighorn sheep and mountain goats out of the parking lot.
Dine at Many Glacier Hotel
NPS Andrew Englehorn
For a special dinner, head to the historic first-come, first-served Ptarmigan Dining Room. Ptarmigan’s chefs use locally sourced ingredients when possible, so you’ll find items like cheese plates with Poor Orphan Creamery fromage blanc produced in Laurin, Mont., and slowly roasted Double R Ranch signature prime rib from Hamilton, Montana.
Get world-class pastries at Polebridge Mercantile, an electricity-free outpost on Glacier’s northwestern edge. Be sure to order the famous huckleberry bear claw. It’s a 28-mile, one-hour drive on a dirt road from Apgar. You’ll need a special vehicle reservation for this area of the park in 2024. Learn more and get your ticket.
You’ll get a free park map from the park entrance station when you enter the park. But if you’re interested in getting a lay of the land, in particular the North Fork area, which includes Lake McDonald, consider buying a Trails Illustrated map from REI.com.