Best time to visit glacier national park

Best time to visit glacier national park

Best time to visit glacier national park

It rains 570mm throughout the year, with a minimum of 37mm in August and a maximum of 68mm in November. The weather is suitable for a trip to Glacier National Park from June to September, but the weather is delightful in July and August.

For most people, late June through mid-September is the best time to visit Glacier, because they want to drive the Going to the Sun Road, raft and fish the rivers, hike the trails, visit the backcountry Chalets, and explore several areas of the park, on both sides of the Continental Divide. It’s high season for visitors, with daytime temperatures averaging in the 80s and nighttime temperatures plunging into the 40s (bag layers, plus a good rain jacket).

The Best Way to Avoid Crowds in Glacier National Park during the Summer. The best way to avoid summer crowds in Glacier National Park is to arrive before 7am at the trailhead or parking area. For extremely popular areas like Logan Pass, 7am might not be early enough to find a parking spot.

How many days do you need in Glacier National Park? Ideally, plan on spending at least two to three days in Glacier National Park. This gives you enough time to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road, hike one or two trails, and visit the Many Glacier or Two Medicine areas.

In this way, is Going-to-the-Sun Road open?

Portions of Going-to-the-Soleil The route remains open all year round and provides access to many places and activities.

With that in mind, when should I avoid Glacier National Park?

The best time to avoid the crowds in Glacier National Park is mid-September to mid-October. Over the past two summers, Glacier has set new records for visitors. From June to July, the park welcomes more than 2.5 million visitors.

Plus, can you see the Northern Lights in Glacier National Park?

Of course, you can see the Northern Lights any time of the year in Glacier National Park. The foot of Lake McDonald, near Apgar, is a great place to view the Northern Lights in the spring.

How many days do you need in Glacier National Park?

Ideally, plan to spend at least two to three days in Glacier National Park. It gives you plenty of time to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Highway, hike a trail or two, and visit the Many Glacier or Two Medicine areas.

Second, can I enter Glacier National Park without a ticket?

What is the best way to enter Glacier National Park without a reservation? Entrance tickets are required between May 28 and September 6, 2022. So go after September 6 if you can. You can enter before 6:00 a.m. or after 5:00 a.m. without a reservation.

Founded in 1910, Glacier is one of the oldest national parks in the United States. Over 4,101 km 2, it is home to a large number of glaciers, forests, and alpine meadows, hundreds of high-altitude lakes, spectacular waterfalls, as well as a multitude of plant and animal species.

With the Canadian Waterton Lakes National Park, since 1932, it has formed the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This ecosystem (Crown of the Continent ecosystem) extends over more than 44,000 km 2 . Extremely protected, it was proclaimed Biosphere Reserve in 1976, then World Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1995. The constructions inside the national park, dating from the 20th century, are also classified in the Register of Monuments Historical.

Glacier National Park is also crossed for nearly 175 km by the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, the famous path along the “Great Divide,” the line of the watershed of North America which connects Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.

Location, access

Glacier National Park is bounded on the north by the provinces of Alberta and a small part of British Columbia for the Canadian position, and on the south by Montana for the American interest.

travel tips
Best time to visit glacier national park

The park is quite far from the big cities:

  • To the north, Calgary is 262 km from the Canadian entrance.
  • To the west, Spokane, Washington is 440 km away.

The only 50 mile / 80 km long road that crosses Glacier National Park (US side) from end to end is called the Going-To-The-Sun Road. It crosses the Continental Divide at the level of the Logan Pass.

Two entries are possible to join this road.

  • To the west via Hway 2 from Coram, Martin City, Columbia Falls, Whitefish, or Kalispell.
  • To the east via Hway 89 from Browning St Mary or further Great Falls.

Other entrances to the east provide access to the park, such as Many Glacier and Two Medicine Lake, but do not connect to another road. So the door will necessarily be the exit. Route US2 connects East Park and West Park in 58 miles / 93 km and connects with Going-To-The-Sun Road. The summer period extends from June to September. Some roads in the park are closed for the rest of the year due to snow.

Visiting time

Allow 1 or 2 days to see the main points of the Going-To-The-Sun Road (USA side) with 1 or 2 short hikes. Allow 1 to 2 additional days for the Canadian side and more extended hiking. Be aware that there are 734 miles / 1,175 km of trails in the park! For hikers, dwell times can be highly variable!

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Have to do

Going-To-The-Sun Road

If your visiting time is limited and if you do not hike, the Going-To-The-Sun Road remains the best compromise to discover the park’s beautiful landscapes.

Mc Donald Lake

Located west side of the entrance to the park (Apgar Visitor Center), Mc Donald Lake is 10 miles / 16 km long and 152 meters deep at an altitude of 960 m. Many stops are possible all along the lake.

Logan Pass

It is the highest point of the road. The Visitor Center welcomes you at an altitude of 2000 m. It will take you between 1h30 and 2 hours to reach this point from the previous Visitor Center, knowing that the narrow road and full of bends are bustling.

St Mary Lake

Located east side of the park entrance, St Mary Lake is approximately 10 miles / 16 km long and 100 m deep at an elevation of 1367 m. There you will find the third Visitor Center. Several points of view are to be discovered.

Many Glacier

Also located on the east side, but the entrance is higher by road 3 when leaving Hwy 89. Apart from the ranger cabin to pay you the right of way, there is nothing.

You have to go to the hotel 4 miles / 6.4 km further. The Visitor Center is inside. To pass Canada side, you will have to exit through the entrance of Many Glacier and join the Chief Mountains Hwy or enter directly via Canada. The park becomes Waterton Lake NP.

Hiking

Among the many hikes to do in the park:

McDonald Lake sector

Snyder Lakes

4.3 miles / 6.9 km one way, elevation 2147 ft / 654 m.

The trail begins at Sperry Trailhead, located across from McDonald Lake Lodge. Take a left after the Mt Brown Trail junction. The lake sits in a basin surrounded by Mt Brown to the north and Edwards Mountain to the south. The official trail ends at Lower Snyder Lake.

Trail of the Cedars

1 mile / 1.6 km round trip. Easy, short hike that begins and ends along Going-To-The-Sun Road through a red cedar forest on a paved trail. The trail splits in 2. On one side, you make the loop; on the other, you can continue to Avalanche Lake for an additional 2 miles / 3.2 km.

Logan Pass sector

hidden lake trail
Best time to visit glacier national park
Hidden Lake Trail

2.2 miles / 3.5 km go to the Overlook. It is one of the most popular hikes in the Logan Pass area. It starts at the Visitor Center on a paved or snow-covered surface if you do it early in the season and then climbs quickly.

You get to the Overlook after about a 1.25 mile / 2 km walk, where you will have a panoramic view of Hidden Lake if the weather is not too foggy. You will indeed have the opportunity to meet mountain goats on the course. If weather permits, the trail continues for 1.4 miles / 2.2 km down to the lake.

Many Glacier sectors

Grinnell Glacier

It is a 10.3 miles / 16.5 km round trip, with a height difference of 550 m. It is one of the most spectacular hikes in the park, with stunning views. The trail begins below the hotel road. It follows the coastline of Swiftcurrent Lake and Josephine Lake and ends at Upper Grinnell Lake.

The hike can shorten to 7 miles / 11.2 km by taking the boat that drops you off at Josephine Lake (hotel information). You will meet goats and as you pass through an area of ​​grizzly habitat, be careful.

Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

13.4 miles / 21.5 km round trip, a height difference of 675 m.

The trail is divided into two sections:

  • the easy section, approximately 4 miles / 6.4 km
  • The climbing section, a long climb of about 3 miles / 4.8 km with a vertical drop of 600 m to the Swiftcurrent Pass summit.

The trail begins at the end of the parking lot at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. The accessible section goes through Fishercap LakeRed Rock Lake, and the falls and ends in Bullhead Lake.

Waterton Lake area

Bertha lake

Approximately 6.5 miles / 10.4 km, elevation gain of 460 m.

Parking is on Evergreen in Waterton. The trail first runs along Lake Waterton then takes the direction of Lower Bertha Falls to arrive at the lake.

Carthew-Alderson

12 miles / 19.2 km one way, 650 m elevation

The trail begins at Cameron Lake. Head towards Summit Lake for approximately 2.5 miles / 4 km. At the junction, follow Carthew Lake for 3.7 miles / 6 km, then Alderson Lake. Finally, the path goes back into the woods.

Convenient

Best time to visit glacier national park
Best time to visit glacier national park

Hours of operation

The park is open all year round, but the period from late May to early September is preferable as the facilities are available to tourists. The opening hours of Visitor Centers and Rangers Stations vary greatly. More information on the park’s official website.

Prices

  • $ 35 per car, $ 30 per bike pass valid for seven days ($ 20 per car, $ 15 per motorcycle from 1 st November to 30 April)
  • America the Beautiful Pass accepted

Documentation

  • National Park Service (US official site)
  • Complete list of trails, by sector, with maps
  • Canadian official website

Or sleep?

Hotels

Eight hotel facilities are present inside the park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts and Pursuit manage reservations. Belton Chalets Inc. also offers accommodation in huts in the backcountry, accessible only by hiking: Sperry Chalet and Granite Park Chalet.

All these establishments are taken by storm! We, therefore, recommend that you book many months in advance—more information on the official website of the National Park Service.

It is possible to stay outside the park, in the border villages at West Glacier, East Glacier, St Mary. Much further on, you will find the towns of Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Kalispell, or even Browning. In this case, consider the distances and travel times that are hardly compatible with a visit to the park at a balanced pace, especially if you want to hike.

On the Canadian side (Waterton Lake National Park), you will find the historic Prince of Wales Hotel.

Camping

The park has 13 campgrounds (by reservation or operating under the 1 st come-1 st served system), from $ 10 to $ 23 per night. Three campsites are available on the Canadian side (Waterton Lake National Park).

Weather

The climate of Glacier National Park is mountainous. Winters are harsher in the eastern area of ​​the park than in the western region. It can fall 3.5 m of snow from 1000 m of altitude in a year. Snowfall occurs mainly between November and March.

During the spring, snow removal from roads requires machines to remove 4000 tonnes of snow per hour. As a result, Logan Pass is generally only open from early June until mid-October. Precipitation is also less in the east. Little rain between July and August, but there are violent thunderstorms during the summer.

Temperatures and precipitation in Glacier NP

Month° C max° C minRain (mm)
January-2.1-9.785.6
February-1.5-7.559.4
March9.4-5.246.7
April11.5-1.246
May17.82.866
June21.86.582.8
July26.28.544.2
August25.47.842.4
September19.23.852.3
October11.4059.4
November2.8-4.179.2
December-1.1-7.683.3
Best time to visit glacier national park

Geology

The park is crossed by mountain ranges belonging to the Rockies. It has only ten peaks exceeding 3000 meters, Mount Cleveland at 3190 m.

Glacier National Park has a rare topographic feature: the summit of Triple Divide Peak (a mountain at 2444 meters above sea level) is the point of intersection of several watersheds between the basins of 3 oceans: Pacific, Atlantic, and the Arctic.

Story

The first to arrive in the park were the Amerindians 10,000 years ago. Around 1700, the white trappers opened up exchanges between European settlers and tribal communities. Due to a lack of resources, the tribes signed treaties that increasingly limited the natives to reserves and, as a result, became dependent on the American government. Today, there are two central Indian reserves: the Blackfeet in the east of the park and flatheads to the southwest.

Loggers and miners who came to look for gold quickly understood the opportunity of tourism.

The first buildings for tourists were built in Apgar Village, named after Milo Apgar, the two men who created the site. In 1891, the Great Northern Railway praised the beauty of the park. In 1910, the park became National Park, and chalets and hotels began. With the development of automobile use, construction of the Going-To-The-Sun Road began; they completed it in 1932.

Movies shot here

A handful of landmark films have been made in Glacier National Park. One example is the opening scene of The Shining (1980) by Stanley Kubrick, filmed from a helicopter over the Going-To-The-Sun Road and in the St Mary Lake area. This same road also appears in Forrest Gump (1994), not surprising given the number of miles Forest has traveled. He had to go that way!

Finally, we can cite Michael Cimino’s La Porte du Paradis (1980), filmed mainly in Glacier near Two Medicine Lake and the small town of Kalispell.

In the final shot of the unsavory alternate “happy ending” version of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, specialists will also have recognized Glacier National Park. For the anecdote, it is, in fact, stock-shots of the Shining!

Best time to visit glacier national park
Best time to visit glacier national park

A few miles away

The park is isolated and far from major US cities (towns closest to Montana do not exceed 100,000 inhabitants) and other national parks.

  • Lewis & Clark National Forest, 210 miles / 335 km
  • Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, 440 miles / 700 km
  • Yellowstone National Park, 415 miles / 660 km

Contents

  1. Can I sleep in my car in Glacier National Park?
  2. Can you get to Mcdonald Lake without going in the sun?
  3. Which is better, Yellowstone or Glacier?
  4. Can you see the Northern Lights from Glacier National Park in July?
  5. When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Glacier National Park?
  6. Is Yellowstone or Glacier better?
  7. Which entrance is the best for Glacier National Park?
  8. Can I drive through Glacier National Park?
  9. Can I enter the Glacier before 6 a.m.?
  10. Why is Glacier Park closed?
  11. What can you do in Glacier National Park without going out in the sun?
  12. Is the Apgar campsite first come, first served?
  13. Are pets allowed in Glacier National Park?
  14. Can you enter the Parc des Glaciers before 6 a.m.?
  15. Do I need a reservation for Glacier?
  16. What is considered the most beautiful national park?
  17. What’s the best month to go to Montana?
  18. Is Banff better than Glacier National Park?

Can I sleep in my car in Glacier National Park?

Glacier National Park on Twitter: “You can sleep in your car if you want – assuming it’s not a convertible!….”

Can you get to Mcdonald Lake without going in the sun?

No. Entrance tickets are only required to access the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor at the West Glacier, Camas Road, and St. Mary entrances.

Which is better, Yellowstone or Glacier?

Which is better, Yellowstone or Glacier? The Glacier is much rougher than Yellowstone. Hiking will require much more physical ability and skill. The whole park is much higher than Yellowstone, so the animals and flora will be a little different from what you find in Yellowstone.

Can you see the Northern Lights from Glacier National Park in July?

This place is only open in summer; However, this isolated gem offers a great vantage point for the Northern Lights. It stretches 10 miles north of East Glacier Village to Hwy 89 in Kiowa. There are several lookouts along the route, perfect for viewing the aurora.

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Glacier National Park?

In Glacier National Park, you can observe the polar lights at any time of the year. However, the longer nights of late fall, winter, and early spring provide the best chance of watching an incredible light show. Rush hours range from about an hour before midnight to about an hour after.

Is Yellowstone or Glacier better?

Which is better, Yellowstone or Glacier? The Glacier is much rougher than Yellowstone. Hiking will require much more physical ability and skill. The whole park is much higher than Yellowstone, so the animals and flora will be a little different from what you find in Yellowstone.

Which entrance is the best for Glacier National Park?

The best way to make a day at Glacier is to start at the East Entrance and go to The Sun Road towards the West Entrance. However, accommodation options are limited on this side of the park.

Can I drive through Glacier National Park?

Lots of Glacier Valley closed for the season.

All road access is prohibited. Trail access over Piegan Pass, Swiftcurrent Pass, and Ptarmigan Tunnel (when open) is permitted.

Can I enter the Glacier before 6 am?

If you don’t have an entrance ticket, you’ll still have access to other park entrances like Two Medicine, Polebridge, and Many Glacier once it’s open for the season. The park is available 24 hours a day, and tickets are not required to enter the GTSR before 6:00 am or after 5:00 pm.

Why is Glacier Park closed?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the park, closing it from March 24 to June 8. President Joe Biden has instituted a mask mandate on federal property that face coverings be worn to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. A road sign informs motorists in May 2020 that Glacier National Park is closed due to COVID-19.

What can you do in Glacier National Park without going out in the sun?

Top 7 Things to Do When Going to the Sun Road is Closed

  1. The Route du Soleil is not the only scenic route in Glacier. 
  2. Biking on the road to the sun.  
  3. Raft Glacier National Park. 
  4. Go on a hike! 
  5. Go fishing.
  6. Explore the southern border of Glacier National Park. 
  7. Adventure outside the park.

Is the Apgar campsite first come, first served?

One of two large campgrounds located near the western entrance to Glacier National Park, Apgar offers first-come, first-served sites (except a few group sites). It is the best campground on the west side to leave the car keys in the tent or caravan.

Are pets allowed in Glacier National Park?

Animals are allowed in landscaped areas such as: in your cars when driving on park roads, front-country campgrounds, picnic areas, along highways when you are away. ‘stop, in parking areas, and in boats on lakes where motorized boats are authorized.

Best time to visit glacier national park
Best time to visit glacier national park

Can you enter the Parc des Glaciers before 6 am?

We know there has been a lot of sentiment around the new ticketed entry system for Glacier National Park. (In case you missed it, May 28 through September 6, 2021, you must have an entry ticket to access the Camas Road, West Glacier, and St. Mary entrances between 6 am and 5 am. More here. )

Do I need a reservation for Glacier?

Entrance reservation tickets are not required for any other specific parts of the park (e.g., Many Glacier, Two Medicine, North Fork, Cut Bank, or Chief Mountain Highway), but visitors are still subject to the entrance fee by vehicle. Visitors can also book a ticket through Recreation.

What is considered the most beautiful national park?

The 12 most beautiful national parks in the United States

  • Acadia National Park, Maine. 
  • Arches National Park, Utah.  
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.  
  • Glacier National Park, Montana.  
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.  
  • Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.  
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina.

What’s the best month to go to Montana?

When to visit Montana

The ideal months to travel to Montana are July and August, when the must-see attractions are up and running, the crowds are not overwhelming, and the weather is most pleasant.

Is Banff better than Glacier National Park?

For day hikes, the Glacier is one of the best parks in the world. Banff is much more touristy than Glacier, which is further out. However, as noted, the main trails can be more crowded at Glacier as Canada’s parks are more significant and more extensive.

Soon at Glacier National Park? Discuss it with us on the forum!

Best time to visit glacier national park

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