Montana’s Glacier National Park protects the last remnants of America’s great frontier. Being a place of dramatic landscapes and forests teeming with wildlife, one could also expect that the weather can be just as unpredictable.
Glacier National Park can be visited year-round. Do you want to hike up alpine peaks or ski down the powdery white slopes? Depending on how you’re planning on spending your vacation, you’ll need to choose the right season to visit Montana.
With such a range of weather in the park, finding the right month to go hiking or seeing the leaves change is easier said than done. With temperatures ranging from 15 degrees in the winter to 84 degrees in the summer, this park can be a land of extremes.
No matter if you want to see the leaves change in the autumn or hike up the trails to view the magnificent glaciers, this guide will take you through every month of the year so you can choose the month that is best for you.
Will you need to pack shorts or a coat for your trip to Montana? Let’s find out!
Don’t leave home without your own: Lonely Planet USA’s National Parks (Travel Guide)
Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park
Spring Season in Glacier NP
For travelers not wanting to be caught up in the crowds of summer, Spring is another great time of the year to visit Glacier National Park.
This is only suitable for more experienced hikers and outdoors people due to the fact that many of the park services are not available right after winter.
For those looking to bike the Going to the Sun Road, there is no better time to do it than between March and June. Spring is also prime time to grab a paddle and head out to the rapids!
With little traffic on the belt and cool weather, travelers can enjoy all the beauty of the retreating winter without the frigid temperatures!
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Glacier National Park is open 24 hours a day 365 days of the year.
March in Glacier National Park
With the snow from the harsh Montana winter still on the ground, many of the passes and trails are inaccessible in March. With highs of 42 degrees Fahrenheit and lows down to 23, you can almost feel the bite of the cold after reading those numbers.
Despite the last remnants of winter lingering over the park, travelers can still find camping at Apgar and St Mary Campgrounds.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Camping is available year-round in Glacier National Park at Apgar and St. Mary Campgrounds. Apgar Campground. Keep in mind there is no running water and flush toilets at either of these campgrounds in late fall, winter, and early spring. The water gets turned on in late May.
April in Glacier National Park
During the last week of April, the snow will finally begin to melt, revealing the hundreds of miles of trails that lay untrodden during the winter.
Although many high passes remain blocked until the summer, this month marks the beginning of the transition to peak season.
If you’re planning on traveling to Glacier National Park during April, you should expect temperatures topping out at around 53 degrees Fahrenheit and lows of about 30.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Portions of Going-to-the-Sun Road are open year-round, however, the entire road will not open prior to certain specified dates that vary every year. The actual date of the full opening of the the road will depend on whether crews have finished plowing the road.
May in Glacier National Park
For those of you wanting to hit the trails but looking to avoid the crowds of peak season, May is the perfect time to start!
Although many of the mid-high altitude passes are still covered with snow, there are still plenty of trails to be explored around the edges of the park.
During May, hikers should be prepared for highs of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and lows around 38.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Hiking trails on the edges of Glacier National Park tend to be snow-free quicker than towards the continental divide or middle of the park. In the mid to higher elevations, trails generally are under 100 percent snow cover in the spring. Some trails in Glacier National Park do not melt out entirely until late July.
Summer Season in Glacier NP
Summer is prime time for travelers looking to experience all the things that Glacier National Park has to offer. Whether you’re hiking up to view the icy glaciers or simply casting a line into the lake, it can all be done between June and July!
Being the peak season for visitors, travelers should expect some crowds along the more famous trails in the park, but this doesn’t mean you can’t find some peace and solitude.
With over 700 miles of trails all open for business, you’ll find yourself alone in the great outdoors in no time.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Weekends are busier than weekdays but not always and not by much. The parking lots at popular destinations, like Logan Pass and Avalanche, begin filling around 6:00 A.M. during the summer months. Other areas of the park start becoming congested later in the morning around 9:00 A.M.
June in Glacier National Park
For much of June, you’ll find businesses and park services are slowly starting to get back into the swing of things. It isn’t until the middle of the month that the passes will finally become accessible to hikers.
Although the park is not 100% operational at this time, you can still beat the crowds that will come in droves in July. The best thing about this month is the weather, with highs of around 72 and lows only dropping to about 44.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Adjust your expectations! Don’t expect your trip to Glacier National Park to be all solitude and be considerate to everyone else looking for peace within this amazing US National Park. Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Yield to other users on the trail. Avoid loud voices and music near other people.
July in Glacier National Park
July marks the start of the high tourist season for Glacier National Park. Although you’re bound to come across a lot more crowds, all the restaurants, hotels, and stores are sure to be open and ready for business!
For more seasoned hikers, this is prime time for hiking up those alpine passes and getting some breathtaking panoramic views that are inaccessible for the rest of the year.
Temperature-wise, July has highs peaking at 84 and lows of 49 degrees Fahrenheit.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: When visiting Glacier National Park have a backup plan, or two and even three. Congestion and crowds close whole areas of the park on a daily basis during the summer.
August in Glacier National Park
Carrying over from July, Glacier National Park is still teeming with life during August.
With most of the trails open and everything from guided tours to whitewater rafting available in the park, expect to spend several weeks exploring everything the park has to offer.
For weather, travelers will enjoy the same temperatures as July, with highs of around 82 and lows only falling to 47 degrees.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: The top 10 hikes in Glacier National Park averages hundreds of hikers per day. However, Glacier National Park has over 700 miles of trails and by taking the less popular trail you can get away from the crowds.
Fall in Glacier NP
As the weather starts to cool off, the crowds in Glacier National Park begin to ease up a bit.
With many of the park’s services and businesses open until Labor Day, travelers have a small window to enjoy the park with all its amenities available.
Even as things start to slow down, there is still tons to do in Glacier National Park. As the trees change into red and yellow hues, it will almost be like walking through a rainbow of colors as you hike down one of the many trails.
With chilly weather and still tons to do, autumn is a great time to visit Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Chasing fall colors in Glacier National Park? On the west side of the park, the trees begin changing color in mid-September and peek to that gold color in mid-October.
September in Glacier National Park
If you still want all the ranger-guided tours and the restaurants to be open, you’ll have to arrive quickly in September.
Many of the businesses and services close around Labor Day. Even if you arrive too late, there is still tons to do in the park during September.
With the weather cooling down, there’s no better time to hit the trails or go fishing by the lake! Warm days are topping out at only 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and lows drop to around 40.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: One of the most important tips for visiting Glacier National Park is to book your hotel well in advance, it saves you money and most of the popular places are booked out years in advance. See where we stayed or browse for the best deals here.
October in Glacier National Park
October is the time to visit the park if you’re looking to see a show of colors in the trees! The leaves may start changing around mid-September, but it isn’t until October when you’ll see a festival of reds and yellows.
It is important to know that many shops, hotels, and restaurants will already be closed by the time October comes around. Travelers will have to be somewhat self-sufficient without so many ranger services.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Make sure to explore the nearby towns like Whitefish, Montana. You will not be disappointed you did!
November in Glacier National Park
Come November, you can already begin to feel the chill of winter sinking in its teeth into Glacier National Park. With the temperature not rising above 37 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll want to pack a warm jacket.
Despite the weather getting colder and the colors of fall beginning to fade, there are still several trails and drives in Glacier National Park to explore.
One of the most famous things to do in November is visiting Swiftcurrent Lake in Many Glacier.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Looking for a good winter jacket, no worries we have you covered with how to Choose the Best Packable Down Jacket for Travel.
Winter in Glacier NP
As the snow starts to fall and winter settles into Glacier National Park, many trails and roads will close for the season.
Even though you won’t be able to explore the full extent of the park that you would during the summer, there are still tons of things to enjoy doing during the colder months.
On the weekends, Apgar Visitor Center opens for visitors looking to take to the slopes of Glacier National Park. For all you adrenaline junkies, nothing can compare with carving a trail down the mountainside.
If you’re looking for a more relaxing getaway, roads such as the Going to the Sun Road from West Glacier to McDonald Lodge are plowed regularly.
There are also some routes where you can strap on your snowshoes and view the park from a different perspective.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: During the late-fall and winter, weather forces most roads in Glacier National Park to close. The Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge is plowed and open year-round, weather permitting.
December in Glacier National Park
In December, the snow is still fresh on the ground, and the powdery white mountains and fields will transport you to a winter wonderland.
Of course, many trails and roads will be closed during December, but you can still hit the slopes and go skiing, or drive along the Going-To-The-Sun Road!
Be sure to pack warm if you decide to travel to Glacier National Park during December; the highs only peak at around 30 degrees, and it can get as cold as 18!
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Don’t get caught in the dark, the winter days are shorter and every hour of daylight is precious since Glacier National Park is more of a scenic view type of a park.
January in Glacier National Park
Traveling to Glacier National Park during January is not for the faint of heart. Being the coldest month of the year, you’ll have to wear several layers to enjoy the slopes and viewpoints.
Despite the weather being unforgiving, tourists can still enjoy the winter wonderland throughout the park on skis, snowshoes, or from the comfort of their car. Apgar Visitor Center is only open on the weekends if the weather permits.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: While it’s not an everyday occurrence, viewing the Northern Lights in Glacier National Park are possible during the winter months.
February in Glacier National Park
In February, the winter weather starts to ease up slightly, but not enough for you to ditch the coat and put on some shorts.
With temperatures topping out at 35 and getting as low as 19, you might want to rethink traveling to Glacier National Park during this month.
If you manage to layer up and don’t mind the cold, travelers can still go out and enjoy the slopes and mountain roads if the weather cooperates. Be sure to check for the latest updates to make sure the road and park offices are open.
Glacier National Park Insider Tip: Looking to do winter activities in Glacier National Park, why not try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Several trails in the Apgar Village area are available for winter skiing and snowshoeing. The unplowed section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, beyond Lake McDonald Lodge, is also a popular winter ski and snowshoe route also.
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