Glacier National Park Things to Do

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    nanny & kid on Garden Wall Trail
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Most Recent Things to Do in Glacier National Park

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    Lake St. Mary's

    by Toughluck Updated May 12, 2014
    Logan Pass below the peak on the right.

    St. Mary is the eastern entrance to the Going to the Sun Road. Along the lower valley, the road follows the lakes northside. There are pull offs where you can view the lake and the mountains surrounding this wonderful place. Rising sun is half way up the lake, where there is lodging and food service. It can be a point to focus on the surrounding area for day activities. The lake, stretches almost 10 miles into the mountains. St. Mary Visitor Center is near the park entrance.

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    Visit Many Glaciers

    by Toughluck Updated May 12, 2014
    Many Glaciers Valley

    This is the heart of the park, yeah, I just copied that, but it is a great description. Here you'll be surrounded by mountains, have lunch overlooking more than one mountain lake and see a glacier or two in the distance. Hiking trails spread out into the wilds and you'll have a chance to see the wildlife. Trails vary from easy to hard, short to long. You can head up into the mountains for an hour or a week. There is also a hike to a glacier where the first 2-3 miles is by boat and - - so are the last 2-3 miles on your return. The Grinnell Glacier trail and the Iceberg Lake trails get you right up to the last remaining glaciers in the park.

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    Going to the Sun Road

    by Toughluck Updated May 12, 2014
    St. Mary's Valley towards the Pass

    This is a spectacular drive over the mountains. In the summer season (and there is no winter season), the overlooks and Logan Pass can become so crowded, you may not be able to stop. If you want to see the area, go early or late. As in London, 'avoid the rushes', which means mid-day.

    The lower pull-off's don't get the same traffic as the ones near the pass. You'll find that early and late give you great views with the suns low and the clefts and small valleys will stand out.

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    Lake McDonald

    by Toughluck Written May 12, 2014

    Lake McDonald Valley is where we began our first visit to Glacier back in 1979. Once occupied by a glacier, it was carved into this magnificent valley over a thousands of years ago. There are lots of services here and great options to keep you busy: sights, trails, diverse plants & animals, historic chalets, and the grand Lake McDonald Lodge.

    Lake McDonald is ten miles long and nearly 500 feet deep. It is the largest lake in the park.

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    Goose Island

    by Camping_Girl Updated Jul 19, 2011
    Goose Island
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    Goose Island is situated in St Mary Lake, a short drive west of the St Mary entrance to the park, along the Going to the Sun Road. Watch for the sign marking the pull-out. This is the perfect spot to take a picture of this tiny little island.

    The pull-out for parking is not large; do be courteous to others and move along after you've got your perfect photo so that others have the same opportunity. =:)

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    The Salt Lick

    by Camping_Girl Updated Jul 19, 2011
    The grey area is the salt lick

    The Salt Lick is located along Highway 2, a little ways west of East Glacier. It is a natural mineral salt lick, in the rocks. Mountain goats can often be spotted in this area, attracted by the salt that they need in their diets.

    This is *supposed* to be an almost sure-thing stop, for spotting mountain goats.... unfortunately, when I visited one rainy September day, all I saw was some tiny white dots far away on a mountain top. Hopefully you will have more luck than I did!

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    Sunrift Gorge (Falls)

    by GuthrieColin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Sunrift Gorge
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    The Sunrift Gorge quite simply a stop. It doesn’t really seem to be on anyone’s favorite places to see in the park. The turnout is located along St. Mary Lake on the east side of the park. From the turnout a short path leads you to a narrow channel that Baring creek has cut on its way down to the lake.
    The falls just off the highway are pretty small maybe 20 feet (6 meters) or so at a time but the surroundings are scenic enough to make you forget that the road is passing right over your head. The Baring Creek Bridge that spans the gorge is also a very interesting structure, built in 1931, since it uses the same rusticated stone that is visible throughout the park.
    If you do choose to stop here, make a point of hiking the short distance down to Baring Falls because it is certainly more impressive.

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    Lake McDonald Lodge

    by GuthrieColin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Lake McDonald Lodge
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    Lake McDonald Lodge is a rustic 3 1/2 story Swiss Chalet style building with clipped gables. It features balcony’s and the old world feel of a hotel built in 1914. It was designed by an architectural firm from Spokane, WA named Kirkland, Cutter, and Malmgren. The original owner was a man named John Lewis, he was a furrier and it is said that the walls are still decorated with his hunting trophies.
    The hotel has 100 rooms of varying luxury and is located just 12 miles (19 km) from West Glacier. I did not stay in the hotel so for more information about the accommodations please visit their site.

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    Many Glacier Hotel

    by GuthrieColin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Many Glacier Hotel and Mt. Gould (left)
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    On the more luxury end of accommodations in Glacier National Park is the historic and perfectly located Many Glacier Hotel. In 1914-15 Louis Hill and the Great Northern Railroad constructed this, the largest hotel in Glacier (211 rooms) in the Swiss Chalet style. The choice to make these buildings in this style was part of a campaign to attract visitors to “America’s Alps” and boost train ridership in the process.
    It seemed to work because several other chalet style buildings were constructed. In the back country Sperry and Granite Park Chalet were among those and were intentionally built a days horse ride apart so visitors could travel by day and spend their nights in relative comfort.
    Once again, I did not stay in this hotel but if you are interested you should check out their site. From what I’ve seen it looks like the rooms are around $117-$230 per night but I’m sure that after a long day of hiking and with all the comforts of the hotel that would be worth it.

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    Logan Pass

    by GuthrieColin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Approaching Logan Pass from the GTTS Road
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    Logan Pass represents the Going to the Sun Road’s highest point. At 6,646 (2,025 meters) the pass is much higher than most mountain passes. The height of this pass makes it accessible only in the summer months of the year. Deep snow makes plowing year round virtually impossible so the road closes early in the winter and re-opens in the early months of the summer.
    The pass is also a point on the Continental Divide which means that precipitation falling on the east side of the pass will eventually flow into the Gulf of Mexico and anything falling on the west side will eventually end up in the Pacific Ocean.
    Logan Pass is most notably is the place in the park where several hiking trails begin. There is also a visitors center which has exhibits and knowledgeable park employees to help you plan your time at the park.

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    Hike to Upper Two Medicine Lake

    by Hopkid Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Your destination

    Hike Type: Out and back
    Difficulty: Easy
    Length: 4.5 miles round trip from upper boat dock; 10 mlies round trip from Two Medicine Campground
    Elevation Gain: 300 feet
    Our hike time:: 2.5 hours (includes 25 minutes for lunch at lake and short detour to Twin Falls)

    We took the Sinopah, one of the vintage boats operated by the Glacier Boat Company, across Two Medicine Lake at 9:00am. It's a beautiful lake with Sinopah Mountain directly behind the lake. The hike starts out in a wooded area but eventually breaks into low-lying shrubs which include bear grass in years that it blooms (only every 3-5 years). The trail ascends mildly and you get a view of a lake which looks like it may have been formed by an avalanche which pushed debris into the creek that runs between Upper Two Medicine and Two Medicine Lakes. Be sure to have a hat because of the exposure to the sun along this part of the trail. You can get overheated!

    After bridging a plateau you go through the Upper Two Medicine Campground and to the lake which has quite a number of old and dead trees near the shore. After taking your photos with Lone Walker Mountain in the background beyond the lake, take a walk across the crude log bridge (that's actually an overstatement) to a rocky shore line that has a nice big rock on which to sit and have lunch or a snack while admiring the view. The lake is actually surrounded by quite a few peaks of red argillite incluiding Pumpelly Pillar, Mount Helen, and Rising Bull Ridge not to mention Lone Walker Mountain.

    Approximately 3/4-mile from the upper boat dock there is a short (less than 1/2-mile) detour to Twin Falls, so named because there are two separate waterfalls which can be seen here. It's a pretty setting and well worth the short detour. Just beware of the persistent and adundant black flies!

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    Hike to Twin Falls

    by Hopkid Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Hike Type: Out and back
    Difficulty: Easy
    Length: 1.75 miles round trip from upper boat dock; 7 mlies round trip from Two Medicine Campground
    Elevation Gain: ~100 feet
    Our hike time: We actually hiked on to Upper Two Medicine Lake but I estimate 1 hour from the upper boat dock

    We took the Sinopah, one of the vintage boats operated by the Glacier Boat Company, across Two Medicine Lake at 9:00am. It's a beautiful lake with Sinopah Mountain directly behind the lake. The hike starts out in a wooded area but eventually breaks into low-lying shrubs which include bear grass in years that it blooms (only every 3-5 years).

    Approximately 3/4-mile from the upper boat dock there is a short (less than 1/2-mile) detour to Twin Falls, so named because there are two separate waterfalls which can be seen here. It's a pretty setting and well worth the short detour. Just beware of the persistent and adundant black flies!

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    Hike, hike, hike!

    by Hopkid Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Piegan Glacier - You can't see this from the Road!

    My number one tip on things to do in Glacier is to go on a hike that will take you to see things that you can't see just off the Going to the Sun Road. Yes, the views from the outlooks along the road are fantastic, and you can see wildlife and wildflowers and even some glaciers. But even more amazing and wonderful sights await those to take the time to get out of their cars and away from the lodges/campgrounds. Many of the hikes are not long or difficult. 2 miles may sound like a long way but it really is worth it if you are physically capable. Be sure to bring ample water, especially if it's a hot day, and a snack or even lunch so you can enjoy the beauty of your destination while you replenish yourself for the return hike.

    If you or someone in your group is handicapped, there is the Trail of the Cedars and Running Eagle Falls that have boardwalks that are wheelchair accessible. There is also a boardwalk that runs behind the Logan Pass Visitors Center through a beautiful meadow of wildflowers. This trail continues on to Hidden Lake but I'm not sure how far the boardwalk goes.

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  • West Glacier in the Fall

    by kalilynn Written May 4, 2010

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    Hi there,
    I live in West Glaicer for most of the summer and fall. Things tend to shut down around this area in the middle of September. Glacier Outdoor Center does stay open year round and they have great cabins that overlook the peaks in Glacier. West Glacier is definitely a great home base when in Glacier. From West Glacier, it is about an hour to Flathead Lake and 1.5 - 2.5 hours to the East side. The road will be closing in Spetember becuase of the rehabilitation project of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Although the road is closed there are many things to do such a fly-fishing, driving up the North Fork Road, and you can still drive part of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Glacier Outdoor Center can do the fishing trips, which if you've never fly-fished before can be very helpful and a fun experiance. They also have a full outdoor store for all your outdoor needs. You can still access some hiking trails as well from the West side of the Park and you can bike the road construciton willing. Whitefish Mountain Resort also has some fun activities, but they tend to close down mid to late September. Big Fork is a neat town as well. It is Glacier's Centennial this year. Check out Glaciercentennial.org for a calendar of events. There will still be a lot going on when they close the road!

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    backpacking at Two Medicine

    by richiecdisc Updated Dec 10, 2009

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    Pitamakan & Katoya Lakes from Pitamakan Pass
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    Two Medicine is a great area for backpacking. If you are looking for a bit more solitude, this could very well be your spot though do not expect to have it entirely to yourself. People familiar with the area count Two Medicine as one of their favorites and with limited permits they are not easy to come by.

    We did a 22 mile loop starting and ending at Lower Two Medicine Trailhead which picked up and lost 3200 feet. We camped one night at Upper Two Medicine and one at Oldman Lake but to get from one to the other, we had to climb and walk along the Continental Divide with full packs on a very windy day. It was quite an experience but very rewarding in the end with some marvelous camping. We're glad we did it and listened to a ranger we met at Fifty Mountain Campground regarding the beauty of Two Medicine.

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Glacier National Park Things to Do

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