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Glacier National Park


One of the nation’s most pristine and magnificent natural wonders, Glacier National Park—also called the “Crown of the Continent”—is a vast landscape of snow-capped mountains and turquoise glacial lakes along the Continental Divide. One of the top reasons folks often visit Glacier National Park is to travel along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

With 1,489 square miles (3,856 square kilometers) to explore, crisscrossed by some 740 miles of hiking trails, the park is best visited on guided bus tours or narrated cruises across numerous lakes, including Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Two Medicine Lake, and the lakes around Many Glacier. The waters from the park’s melting glaciers form the headwaters of rivers flowing to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico.

For independent travelers, the park operates a free shuttle service throughout much of the summer season along Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile (80-kilometer) drive through the interior of the park. The 20 stops throughout the park offer countless memorable views.

  • The national park is a must-see for adventure travelers and outdoors enthusiasts.

  • Dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.

  • The park has limited cell service, so be sure to plan ahead.

  • Park lodging is available in Glacier National Park at Apgar Village and on the shores of Lake McDonald and Swiftcurrent Lake.

  • Glacier National Park is home to hundreds of animals, including bears, beavers, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and wolverines. Keep a safe and respectful distance from all wildlife.

  • The Glacier National Park annual pass grant entry for one year from the date of purchase.

  • Glacier National Park ticket fees differ depending on the season.

Glacier National Park is situated in Northwest Montana, 29 miles (47 kilometers) from Kalispell and 200 miles (322 kilometers) from Great Falls. Most visitors travel to the park by car or RV.

Glacier National Park offers magnificent views no matter the season, but travelers who prefer to have the natural scenery more to themselves would do well to avoid peak season from mid-June to Labor Day. Some roads and park facilities are closed during the winter.

Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park (across the Canadian border in Alberta) make up what is known as Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. The first park of its kind in the world is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, distinguished for its diversity of flora and fauna.

Considering the main road through the park, Going-to-the-Sun Road, is usually closed from September into June, you’ll likely want to come in summer, when the entire road is open and you can see all the park’s best areas. If you can time it correctly, try to come right when the road opens or right before it closes to avoid the biggest crowds.

How many days you need at Glacier National Park depends on what you want to do. If you simply want to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road and hit the most scenic spots, 1–2 days will suffice. But if you want to trek a few trails, take in the classic park architecture, and experience Glacier’s varied landscapes across its distinct sections, aim for 3+ days.

There are loads of guided tour options for Glacier National Park visitors: A fleet of historic red buses (aka jammers) run between several park lodges; Sun Tours, a Blackfeet-owned company, runs bus tours with an Indigenous perspective. Then there are boat tours, hiking tours, horseback tours, rafting tours, and ranger-led tours as well.

Many visitors will make sure they drive all of Going-to-the-Sun Road, the ridiculously scenic drag that crosses the park—from here, make stops at Lake McDonald, the Logan Pass Visitor Center, Jackson Glacier, and anywhere else that strikes you. You might also want to see (or dine at) Glacier Park Lodge, an absolute icon built by the Great Northern Railway.

While you don’t need reservations to get into Glacier National Park, you do need vehicle reservations to access the most popular areas: Going-to-the-Sun Road, North Fork, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier. Considering Going-to-the-Sun Road is the main drag across the park, a vehicle reservation is essential for most visitors. Reservations can be made online at

To enter Glacier National Park in your own private vehicle, you can purchase a 7-day pass for $35 at the park entrance ($25 from November 1 to April 30). Individuals are $20; motorcycles are $30. Certain popular areas of the park require additional reservations to access; those can be made online for “free,” though there’s a $2 processing fee.


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