Park Tally: 33/59
Glacier National Park is simply one of the most beautiful places on earth. Popular for its turquoise lakes, majestic mountains and abundant wildlife, Glacier is a gem of the National Park System. The park can be accessed from various locations and the most visited sections are Apgar/Lake McDonald, St. Mary, Two Medicine and the Many Glacier area.
Glacier is one of those parks that can be explored in 1-2 days for the “highlights” such as Going-to-the-Sun Road, or visitors can spend weeks (or even months!) truly losing themselves in the beauty of their surroundings. There is something for everyone in Glacier, including various accessible, family friendly and adventurous options.
Most iconic view: With a world famous 85-year history, Going-to-the-Sun Road is undoubtedly the most well-known feature in Glacier National Park. The scenic drive travels 53-miles into the heart of the park, providing views of jaw-dropping scenery and wildlife. The road crosses the Continental Divide at Logan’s Pass, reaching an elevation of 6647-feet. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed during the winter months and can get busy during the peak of summer. Glacier National Park provides a shuttle bus service to help reduce vehicle congestion and free up parking lots.
Accessible activity: Glacier has numerous ‘easier’ options for exploring the park. Wooden boat tours have been a feature of Glacier since the 1920s and continue to be a popular attraction with visitors today. St. Mary Lake, Lake McDonald, Many Glacier and Two Medicine all offer scenic boat tours, with some providing a hiking extension to the cruise. Bookings can be made via the Glacier Park Boat Company.
Lake McDonald is a wonderful location for an easy stroll along the waterside, a dip into the refreshing water, a peaceful paddle around the lake, or a yummy ice-cream at the nearby concessionary store. Additionally, Avalanche Creek is a nearby family-friendly walk, or visitors can continue onto Avalanche Lake for a longer hike (4.5-miles).
For the adventurous: Glacier is a wonderful place for getting into the backcountry and truly exploring the wilderness areas. Day hikes such as Iceberg Lake (9.7-miles) will get your heart rate up whilst providing views of stunning mountains, lakes and wildlife. There are numerous options in Glacier for overnight or multi-day treks into the backcountry, though a permit must be obtained from one of the following locations: Apgar Backcountry Permit Center, St. Mary Visitor Center, Many Glacier Ranger Station, Two Medicine Ranger Station, or the Polebridge Ranger Station.
Best photo opportunities: Glacier has an abundance of photographic locations and opportunities to capture wildlife. Some of our favorites include the Many Glacier area and Lake Josephine at sunrise, and the Going-to-the-Sun Road at sunset.
- Glacier officially became a National Park in 1910 and the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road was completed in 1932.
- Glacier National Park and Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park was established as the first International Peace Park in 1932. The two parks decided to join together as a symbol of goodwill, with each side pledging to preserve the unique wilderness space.
- As the name suggests, the park contains 26 glaciers, though all are shrinking in size.
- Glacier National park has a phenomenon known as the ‘Triple Divide Peak’, which means water flows from the park into the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.
- Human life has dated back over 10,000 years in Glacier National Park. By the time the first European explorers came to the region, several different tribes inhabited the area. The Blackfeet Indians controlled the prairies east of the mountains and the Salish and Kootenai Indians lived in the western valleys.
- The park is home to 71 species of mammals, including black bears, grizzly bears, bats, beavers, bighorn sheep, elk, lynx, mountain goats, mountain lions, pikas, and wolverines. Interestingly, Glacier provides the core of the one the largest remaining grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states.
- In 2016, Glacier National Park had 2,946,681 visitors – a large increase from previous years and numbers are predicted to increase again in 2017.