Glacier National Park
Montana, USA

One of the greatest national parks, Glacier offers unparalleled mountain and lake views and beautiful meadows and forests. There are three Visitor Centers. Apgar is in the west, St. Mary is in the east (and offers the park film), and Logan Pass is in the middle at the highest point along the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road.

There are many ways to explore the park via guided tour. This includes boat, bus, or rafting tours, guide hiking, and horseback rides. Narrated boat tours are available at four locations from the Glacier Park Boat Company. Sun Tours offers tours via passenger coach, but I would opt for the historic 1930s red bus tours operated by Glacier National Park Lodges/Xanterra. Rafting tours are available from several companies and take you down the Flathead River. Swan Mountain Outfitters operate the guided horseback rides in the park at several locations. For guided half day or full day hikes, check out Glacier Guides.

If you want to explore on your own, Glacier is absolutely loaded with hiking trails. The Many Glacier Valley Trail area has lots of options. While there are shorter trails here (the 2-mile round trip Apikuni Falls and the 2.3-mile loop Swiftcurrent Nature Trail), there are several excellent day hikes. Ptarmigan Tunnel (10.5-mile round trip) cuts through meadows and forest and passes Ptarmigan Lake and Falls. After going through a 250-foot man-made tunnel, you are rewarded with a memorable view of the Belly River drainage area. I also highly recommend the Grinnell Glacier hike (10.3-mile round trip), one of the most notable glaciers, which takes you past lakes, cliffs, and alpine meadows. Finally, Iceberg Lake Trail (9.6-mil round trip) takes you to a picturesque mountainous skyline and a cool blue lake with floating chunks of ice.

The Logan Pass area offers the Hidden Lake Overlook trail. I highly recommend this 2.8-mile round trip hike that has views of Logan Pass, takes you across a beautiful flowered alpine meadow, and offers the best chance at seeing mountain goats. The St. Mary trail area has some short hikes to falls, including Virginia Falls (3.5-mile round trip), St. Mary Falls (2.4-mile round trip), and Bearing Falls (just a short walk from the Sunfirt Gorge Pullout). The Two Medicine trail area is similar to the other areas, offering short hikes to falls (Appistoki Falls 1.2-round trip and Aster Falls 2.4-mile round trip), as well as longer day 10-15 mile day hikes.

This park is great for wildlife sightings. Mountain goats don't mind you walking by. I was also able to catch more moose and bighorn sheep sightings here than any other park. Bears roamed the mountain sides in the distance.

Whether biking or driving, you'll pass many scenic vistas along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. While out driving, consider heading across the border to the Prince of Wales Hotel (pictured below) in Waterton, Canada. Have afternoon tea and sandwich squares while enjoying a jaw-dropping view. And, get a cool mountain goat stamp on your passport at the border!

For lodging, you have a lot of options for a park. There are two motels, two motor inns, two lodges, and a hotel. Many Glacier Hotel is my choice. It has a beautiful lobby and a great location overlooking the immense blue Swiftcurrent Lake and mountainous terrain. For campers, there are 13 campgrounds and over 1000 sites, but only Fish Creek and Many Glacier offer reservations. There are also two backcountry chalets for the hiking enthusiast.

Happy Travels!