Things to do in Glacier National Park

Stef Zisovska

Glacier National Park is located in the beautiful state of Montana on the border with Canada. The park covers an area of over 1 million acres, including two mountain ranges, 130 lakes, more than 1000 plant species and over 100 animal species. This abundant ecosystem is often referred to as the jewel in the crown of the continent’s ecosystems. The mountains at Glacier National Park started forming 170 million years ago. These fine sediment rocks are known as the home of the Earth’s oldest fossils, many of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

The current shape of the mountains in the Park is due glacier activity that formed lakes between the rocks. Full of rivers, lakes, trails, forests, glaciers, and valleys, Glacier National Park is one of the most visited in the country. If you’re looking for a place that offers plenty of outdoor activities for any age, then this is the perfect park for you. You will be especially happy to enjoy its stunning landscapes during summer time.


Hiking in Glacier National Park
Hiking in Glacier National Park

There are over 700 miles of trails crossing the park where you can choose anything from a short hike to a long backpacking trip. The most visited trails in the Park are Lake McDonald, Many Glacier, North Fork and Goat Haunt, St. Mary and Two Medicine. When hiking, try to do it with a group of people to avoid potentially dangerous wildlife encounters.

Before heading for a trail, stop at the visitors center to inform yourself about the weather conditions and to let authorities know what your hiking plans are. Be sure to have sturdy footwear, adequate food and water supplies, bear spray, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.

Backcountry camping

With all the abundant wildlife, alpine lakes and towering mountains, Glacier National Park is a paradise for backpackers. To be able to camp here, you need to get a permit and pay $7 per person at one of the backcountry permit offices. Permit centers where you can register are St. Mary Visitor Center, Many Glacier Ranger Station, Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor Reception Centre, Two Medicine Ranger Station, Polebridge Ranger Station (Open daily from May through mid-September).

Many Glacier camp tender’s cabin
Many Glacier camp tender’s cabin

The park has 65 designated campgrounds. Recommended gear for your backcountry camping trip includes bear spray, topographic maps, compass, first aid kit, high-calorie food, shelter, sleeping bag and pad, appropriate footwear, rain jacket, lightweight camp shoes, footwear for stream crossings, weatherproof food, and garbage hanging bag, water container and water filter, camp stove, fuel, and emergency signaling device.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

There is probably no other road in the world quite like it
There is probably no other road in the world quite like it
Going-to-the-Sun Road is usually open throughout the whole year, depending on the weather conditions. This year, the west side will close October 9, 2017, due to road reconstruction. From 15th of June to 4th of July there are cycling trails open every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. These trails are eastbound from Logan Creek to Logan Pass and the south end of Lake McDonald to Sprague Creek Campground. Logan Pass is the highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road at 6,646 feet. Here you can enjoy the amazing views of Glacier National Park and also see many of the park’s constant residents, the mountain goats.

River Camping

Camping by the river
Camping by the river
North Fork on the Flathead River provides primitive camping locations at Ford Creek, Big Creek, and Glacier Rim. Camping groups may not include more than 12 people and are allowed to stay at any one camping ground for one night only. After the first night, the group needs to move for at least a mile to the next camp site. Wood fires are allowed if contained in a fire pan and the food needs to be secured from bears. Suspending food items a minimum of 10 feet above the ground is highly recommended.
Boating, fishing, guided tours, ranger-led programs, photography, biking, and horseback riding are just some of the other outdoor activities that Glacier National Park offers to its visitors. If you are a nature fan but prefer to spend your summer vacation on a riverside instead of on a beach, then Montana is what you’re looking for. Summertime is perfect for camping in Glacier National Park. Enjoy your visit!

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival