There are few places left in the United States where you can truly feel like you’re blazing new trails, but they are still out there. Montana’s Glacier National Park is a refuge for some of America’s most untamed wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.
With a history stretching back thousands of years, adventurous travelers will be hiking, driving, or pedaling through some of the last untouched forests of the world.
Glacier National Park has countless lakes, more than 700 miles of trails, magnificent glaciers, and views with an awe factor off the charts.
We have brought together all the best lakes, trails, rivers, and waterfalls into one place so you can easily pick and choose what you want to do during your adventure.
You’re probably anxious to head out on the trails, so let’s jump straight into the best things to do in Glacier National Park.
Don’t leave home without your own: Lonely Planet USA’s National Parks (Travel Guide)
15 Things to Do in Glacier National Park
1. Apgar Nature Center
Whether you’re a well-seasoned traveler or a family on a weekend getaway, you’ll want to head to the Apgar Nature Center before you start exploring Glacier National Park.
This modest cabin in the woods is actually your gateway to all the inside information on the park. Do you want a second recommendation about where to head to first? Need some extra advice about the park?
The rangers and exhibits inside will be your guides before you start exploring the beauty of Glacier National Park.
Are you looking for the best time to visit Glacier National Park? No worries we have put together a guide highlighting every month and what to expect when visiting.
2. See the Grinnell Glacier
You can’t say you have visited Glacier National Park without seeing one of the gorgeous glaciers found throughout the mountains.
If you were to choose just one of the glaciers to see while exploring Montana, make sure you don’t miss Grinnell Glacier. That said, the only way to access this glacier is by putting your boots on the ground and walking to the viewpoints.
However, don’t let that deter you. Although the trail is a little bit challenging, the view is sure to make your jaw drop.
3. Enjoy the Shores of Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in all of Glacier National Park. Acting as a mirror reflecting the towering mountains lining its banks, you won’t find a more spectacular sight in all of Montana.
This lake can be enjoyed by SUP, kayak, swimming or walking along the beaches. Personally, we love to visit the lake for sunrise. It is the only time you can witness the sun peaking over the mountains and reflecting onto the lake.
If you really want to spend extra time admiring Lake McDonald and the beauty of the valley, there is even an antique lodge where you can feel as if you are sleeping on the great frontier – but in 5-star comfort.
4. Hike to St. Mary Falls
It doesn’t matter how many waterfalls you’ve seen; there’s always time to be blown away by yet another. While in Montana, you’ll want to head to St. Mary Falls.
The cascading waters can be heard from miles around and typically bring in a steady trickle of travelers. While there is a shuttle option taking visitors just ⅔ of a mile from the waterfall, there are longer trails for the more adventurous.
Our favorite way to see St Mary Falls is by combining the visit with both Baring Falls and Virginia Falls along the Three Falls Trail. This is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the park and all three waterfalls are equally spectacular.
5. Drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road
Are you a bit short on time or cannot do ten-mile long hikes like you used to? Save your energy by enjoying a road trip along the Going-To-The-Sun-Road.
Experienced travelers and weekend visitors alike are sure to be left breathless by the scenery, even when they’re not hitting the trails.
This winding stretch of road showcases all the best views in Glacier National Park. With plenty of viewpoints, short hikes, and spots to set up a picnic, there are hundreds of reasons to hop in the car and see the beauty of the park firsthand.
This drive is so spectacular that we wrote a dedicated guide to it, linked above, outlining everything you need to know, including the best stops!
6. Go Horseback Riding
One way to view the park, that you may not have thought of, is by saddling up and trotting down the trail on horseback. With rental stores in the park providing all the gear you need, you’ll be heading out into the wilderness before you know it.
Even if you’re not an experienced rider, rangers provide guided horseback riding tours through some of the best sights, such as Apgar, Many Glacier, and Lake McDonald.
This is a very unique way to experience the park. While it will be spectacular, we recommend this for people that have already been to the park and seen the highlights.
7. Hike to Avalanche Lake
Fed by the Sperry Glacier, Avalanche Lake is another spectacular spot to beat the crowds and truly get lost in nature.
Several hikes will take you through some of the best sights in Glacier National Park and end at the banks of Avalanche Lake. With Bearhat Mountain towering in the distance, you’ll want to bring your camera along to capture the moment.
The Avalanche Lake trail is hands down one of the most popular hikes in Glacier National park since it’s extremely easy and takes a short time to get there.
8. Take on the Highline Trail
Not meant for the faint of heart, the Highline Trail follows sheer cliffs throughout the park, but offers views second to none! Connecting Logan Pass and Granite Park Chalet, this hiking trail is one of the most popular in Glacier National Park – and for a good reason.
Highline Trail showcases grassy meadows, majestic snow-capped mountains, and bubbling brooks trickling through the countryside.
With its breathtaking viewpoints that will make you want to stop and bask in the beauty of the park, be sure to give yourself enough time to take it slow and treasure every step.
9. Visit Logan Pass
Starting from Going-To-The-Sun Road, Logan Pass opens up a whole new world before your feet. Although the view is gorgeous from the side of the road, the temptation will be too great not to lace up your boots and head down the trail.
With snow-capped mountains and grassy fields, hikers of all ages and abilities can enjoy this leisurely trail. Before venturing off into the wild, be sure to stop by the visitor center to get a closer look at the plants and animals that call this park home.
The Logan Pass parking lot also acts as the main starting point for several hikes in this area. This means it will be busy, often filling by 6am in the summer and fall months. It’s important that you manage expectations and plan accordingly.
10. Hike to Hidden Lake
Nestled between several towering mountains, the view of Hidden Lake is sure to top your list of the most beautiful sights in Glacier National Park.
Being one of the most famous hikes in the park, you can expect crowds to be hitting the trail. If you’re looking for more solitude, be sure to head out early.
Passing through peaceful meadows and patches of forests, travelers will eventually look out over Hidden Lake and the peaks of Bearhat Mountain, Reynolds Mountain, and Clements Mountain.
There are really two options for seeing this lake, both involve hiking. The first is shorter trail that will lead to an overlook, allowing you to see the lake from an elevated view. The second takes you right down and around the lake.
Something worth noting, the Hidden Lake area is notoriously a high trafficked area for bears. This often leads to the area being closed. If you do visit when it is open, please abide by all bear safety recommendations and never hike without bear spray.
11. Get a Huckleberry Bear Claw at Polebridge Mercantile
Located in the northwest corner of Glacier National Park, Polebridge Mercantile is an integral part of Montana’s outdoor experience. This country store is the perfect place to stock up on goods before you hit the trails or go backcountry camping.
Even if you’re one of the weekend warriors, Polebridge Mercantile has everything from a bakery to a souvenir shop – perfect for creating memories and even taking some home with you.
It’s also located on the way to Bowman Lake, so make a day of it and not only enjoy a signature Huckleberry Bear Claw, but head out to a lesser visited area of the park too.
12. Enjoy the Trail of the Cedars
It doesn’t matter how much hiking experience you may have, the Trail of the Cedars is a great place to start exploring all of the wonders within Glacier National Park.
The boardwalk for the hike is easily accessible from the Going-To-The-Sun Road. Simply park on the curb and venture off into the wilderness.
Along the trail, hikers will come across woods teeming with life, the McDonald Waterfall, and eventually, they will find themselves looking out over the tranquil waters of Avalanche Lake.
13. Visit Fishercap Lake
With so much to do around Fishercap Lake, visiting this part of Glacier National Park is almost a trip in itself.
This family-friendly hike is easily done by travelers of all ages. Once you find yourself by the water, you’ll be sure to want to sit back, relax, and take in the view of nearby Mount Wilbur and the surrounding forests.
The fun doesn’t stop at the lake: nearby Redrock Falls and Swiftcurrent Auto Camp Historic District make for some great side trips while at Fishercamp Lake.
14. See the Many Glacier
Many Glacier is one of the most famous tourist spots in the entire park, but don’t let that turn you off if you’re an off the beaten path traveler. Many Glacier also has tons of trails where you can easily escape the crowds.
In Many Glacier, you’ll find the gorgeous Swiftcurrent Lake reflecting the image of the mighty Mount Wilbur. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of what the region has to offer.
Hikers will be left speechless by the alpine meadows, rushing waterfalls, and hidden lakes tucked away behind dense woods along the trails. To put it simply, Many Glacier is the definition of an adventure.
15. Add in a Visit to Waterton Lakes
Want to slip in a little bit of international travel while visiting Glacier National Park? The beauty of the mountains and lakes don’t stop just because there is a border dividing the United States and Canada. Travelers can continue northward and continue exploring the beauty of America.
At the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, visitors straddle two countries at the same time while wandering along the banks of rivers and climbing the towering mountains. To see the full range of beauty of Glacier National Park, you’ll have to go north of the border!
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