Glacier National Park
The Crown of the Continent
For more than 100 years, visitors from around the world have been flocking to Glacier National Park to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor experience. The park’s central thoroughfare, Going-to-the-Sun Road, is a bucket-list drive for many of the park’s visitors, with dramatic cliffs, waterfalls and ample wildlife flanking the roadway. And that’s just the beginning. Glacier National Park has more than 700 miles of hiking trails, from quick in-and-outs for hikers young and old, to long, rewarding journeys that reveal hidden lakes, majestic peaks and skies sparkling with stars.
The west entrance to Glacier National Park is 32 scenic miles from downtown Kalispell, with loads of places to stop and grab a bite to eat, a quick drink or take a photo of the jaw-dropping surroundings. Once you’re at the park, you won’t have to travel far before you reach popular stopping points like Lake McDonald, Avalanche Lake or the quaint Apgar village. And if you’re looking for a little help exploring, there are several outfitters and guides that can take you on a historic red bus tour, a fly-fishing trip, rafting down one of the rivers, or a jaunt on horseback deep into nature. In Apgar, you’ll find rentals for boats, paddleboards and kayaks to take out on Lake McDonald, plus Eddy’s Café to refuel post-hike.
If you want to drive the entire length of Going-to-the-Sun Road and travel the 30 or so miles to Logan Pass — the highest point along the road — you’ll want to be here in summer or early fall, but if biking’s more your style the spring is the right season for you, with Going-to-the-Sun Road generally only open to bike traffic in the late spring and early summer months. If you can’t make it here during the busy season, don’t fret, because Glacier National Park is open year-round, and the so-called offseason is locals’ favorite time to visit since crowds have generally thinned out and, in the fall, the changing colors of the leaves only enhances the park’s natural beauty. In the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing give visitors an entirely different look at the park’s quiet majesty.
Activities you will love in Glacier National Park
Winter Activities — Winter in the park is beautiful, imagine yourself cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on the Going-to-the-Sun road (closed to vehicle traffic) feeling like you have a national park all to yourself. Several ski trails are recommended. Check out all of Glacier's Winter Glory here.
Red Bus Tours — Take a Red Bus tour over historic Going-to-the-Sun Road and see breathtaking natural wonders. The best part? You’re not driving so you can keep your eyes on the scenery rather than the road.
Naturalist Tours — See the park through the eyes of a ranger or naturalist. Tours are available through the park staff and private outfitters.
St. Mary’s Lake Cruise — Climb aboard a beautiful wood motorboat and tour scenic St. Mary’s Lake. If you’ve only seen it in photos, you haven’t seen it. Boat tours are also available on Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, Swiftcurrent and Lake Josephine.
The Logan Pass Visitor Center — This recently renovated center at the top of Logan Pass marks the high point of Going-to-the-Sun Road. The bookstore is filled with great reads on Glacier and there are several boardwalk trails near by. Also a sure bet for mountain goat viewing.
Lunch on the Deck at Lake McDonald Lodge — Great food and an even better view. The perfect place to reflect on your time in the park or get fueled up for your next hike.
Whitewater Float on the Middle Fork — The Middle Fork makes up the southern boundary of the park. And it’s a the perfect mix of deep emerald slicks and tumbling rapids. We suggest a guide, they’re easy to book in advance or just pick one in the West Glacier area.
Cinnamon Roll at Polebridge — No kidding. It’s a bit of a rough drive up to Polebridge, but the general store’s bakery is worth it. So is the scenery. From here you can access Bowman and Kintla lakes by car, where the fjord-like views will leave you awestruck.
Glacier Institute Class – Of Bears and Berries or Wildflower Wanderings are just a couple of the courses offered by the Glacier Institute, a park partner dedicated to offering exciting outdoor educational experiences for children and adults.
Crown of the Continent – Uncover the sights, sounds, experiences and authentic character of our one-of-a-kind region by visiting the Crown of the Continent Geotourism website. Find great local places to eat, unique events to attend and learn how to engage in local topics and communities. You can pick up your free Geotourism MapGuide at the Kalispell Visitor Information Center.