Glacier Nationwide Park is without doubt one of the hottest parks within the Nationwide Park Service, but these guests who aren’t fortunate sufficient to attain both a lodge reservation contained in the park and/or automobile reservations to drive Going-to-the-Solar Street may discover themselves pissed off with restricted entry to the park. However don’t despair, even when your time inside the park is restricted, there are many enjoyable and adventurous issues to do close to Glacier Nationwide Park. In any case, magnificence and nature don’t cease on the park borders!
After I visited Montana final fall, I solely spent at some point exploring the park, however then loved every week doing different actions close to Glacier Nationwide Park. Visiting GNP might be an train in endurance coping with full parking tons, bumper-to-bumper site visitors, ready in strains, and crowded climbing trails — under no circumstances what individuals are on the lookout for in an “outdoorsy” trip.
Don’t fret! Go to Glacier, tick the field, stamp the passport, purchase the t-shirt, see the highlights and scenic drives…then transfer on to all of the issues to do exterior of Glacier Nationwide Park.
In the event you need assistance planning a visit to Glacier Nationwide Park, my pal Bryanna has put collectively a terrific Glacier Nationwide Park Information with 39 pages of stop-by-stop directions, climbing choices by problem stage, eating suggestions, and insider ideas. It even contains an alternate RV itinerary for RVers!
The place to Keep Close to Glacier nationwide Park
Notice: My journey to northwest Montana was sponsored by Glacier Nation Tourism, however all opinions are my very own. This put up incorporates affiliate hyperlinks. In the event you click on a hyperlink and make a purchase order, I could obtain a small fee.
Earlier than we get to all of the issues to do round Glacier Nationwide Park, let’s first determine the place to remain close to Glacier Nationwide Park, particularly since getting reservations inside the park requires some severe advance planning and plenty of driving to get from one part of the park to the opposite.
If you’re going to be visiting most of the points of interest close to Glacier Nationwide Park, you’ll be higher off staying west of the park, in West Glacier or the encircling areas. Most of the locations to go to close to Glacier Nationwide Park included under are higher accessed from the areas west of the park.
There are a lot of glamping choices close by, however for an extended keep I’d advocate sticking to one of many bigger cities, which additionally affords extra facilities and companies. Whitefish Mountain Resort is actually well-liked, together with vrbo trip leases, however something in and round this ski resort city goes to be a bit dear.
Staying in Kalispell to the southwest of Glacier will present extra finances choices as there are a selection of chain accommodations simply exterior of the downtown. Plus, whereas there are nice eating places and breweries on the town, the world by the freeway and accommodations additionally has superstores, chain eating places, and quick meals/quick informal choices. After I visited, I stayed on the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Kalispell, which was fairly handy and good.
Seek for different choices:
Issues to do Close to Glacier Nationwide Park
After visiting Glacier Nationwide Park, some individuals like to go north throughout the border into neighboring Waterton Lakes Nationwide Park in Canada or head as much as the Canadian Rockies to see Banff and Jasper. Nonetheless, there are many issues to do close to Glacier Nationwide Park proper in Montana – no passport required!
Listed below are a couple of of the issues to do exterior of Glacier Nationwide Park that gives you that out of doors trip and journey you might be looking for.
Drive an hour south of West Glacier for one of the crucial distinctive out of doors experiences you’ll ever have — trekking with llamas. In any case, who desires to go for a daily hike when you possibly can go on a hike with llamas? Swan Mountain Outfitters will introduce you to your llama for the journey and knowledgeable information will take you into the Flathead Nationwide Forest to get pleasure from a picnic lunch by a waterfall.
You don’t want to fret a few factor on this family-friendly trek because the information packs the lunch and the llamas carry it for you. Or, you possibly can go for a shorter, adults-only afternoon trek with wine. The llamas are so awkwardly cute that it’s inconceivable to not smile. Extremely advocate this exercise for anybody that wants a superb psychological well being break.
Kayaking or paddleboarding
There are a lot of rivers and lakes to get pleasure from in Northwest Montana exterior of the well-known ones in Glacier Nationwide Park (e.g. Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Avalanche Lake or Hidden Lake.) You’ll be able to get pleasure from kayaking or paddle boarding on Whitefish Lake, fly fishing on Flathead River, and boating on the immense Flathead Lake.
One of many extra distinctive and enjoyable methods to get out on the water is to paddle the Clearwater River Canoe Path. Situated on the shore of Seeley Lake and surrounded by Lolo Nationwide Forest, Tamaracks Resort offers gear rental and a shuttle service to get pleasure from a lazy, three-hour scenic float down the Clearwater River Path. Alongside the best way, you might even see wildlife alongside the river together with turtles, fish, birds, and possibly even a moose.
Sundown Cruise on Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake is the biggest freshwater lake in Montana, and in all the Western U.S. by floor space, should you exclude Alaska. It’s over 27 miles lengthy and 15 miles large on the widest level. It averages 164 toes in depth, however it could possibly stand up to 370 toes deep. It’s also one of many clearest lakes in the US. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, together with the Montana Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, who handle the lake work onerous to make sure it stays clear and clear by inspecting all watercraft for invasive species.
With a mess of coves carved into an irregular shoreline and a number of islands within the lake, it’s best to discover Flathead Lake by boat. Flathead Lake Charters affords half or full-day fishing charters, the place you possibly can fish for lake trout, pike, yellow perch, whitefish, rainbow trout, bass, kokanee salmon, and a few bull trout. In the event you don’t wish to go fishing, Uncover Flathead Lake affords personal scenic boat excursions of most of the stunning coves alongside the lake, with a cease on Wildhorse Island for a hike.
Nonetheless, a night sundown cruise to look at the colourful glow on the Mission Mountains as you discover the shoreline and cliffside views of Rocky Level and the Flathead River is a visit spotlight when visiting Glacier Nation. Carry your personal drinks and snacks and sit again and absorb the pure magnificence.
If you are exploring Flathead Lake, you’ll want to spend a while within the darling little city of Large Fork. This charming, artsy city feels prefer it might be in a Hallmark film, with cute boutiques, galleries, and cafes.
Hike By way of the Cedars
Couldn’t get a parking spot on the trailhead for the Path of the Cedars in Glacier Nationwide Park? That’s okay. You’ll be able to stroll by way of an enormous cedar grove at Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Space in Libby, Montana. It’s a lengthy drive to get there however one of many enjoyable issues to do exterior of Glacier Nationwide Park is to take a scenic drive by way of stunning Montana anyway (plus you possibly can go to some waterfalls alongside the best way).
Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Space is a grove of western pink cedars with an interpretive strolling path a few mile lengthy. A few of the bushes are as much as 400 years previous and attain eight toes in diameter. The scenic space is off of Freeway 56, up a four-mile lengthy entry street that winds up and round to the car parking zone.
The path takes about one hour to discover should you cease and browse the intepretative indicators that explains the world’s ecology and historical past.
There are a lot of waterfalls in Glacier Nationwide Park, akin to Virginia Falls and Saint Mary Falls, however you too can discover stunning waterfalls throughout Northwest Montana. Columbia Mountain Path, which isn’t removed from the park, has three waterfalls alongside the path.
Additionally, about two-and-a-half hours from the park, in your solution to Ross Creek Cedar Path, you can see Kootenai Falls, one of many largest free-flowing waterfalls within the Northwest. The falls space is a sacred web site to the Kootenai individuals and it was as soon as a spot the place tribal members communed with non secular forces. Right this moment, you possibly can observe strolling trails right down to the river’s edge and alongside the falls.
It is a beautiful spot for a picnic or you possibly can cease within the city of Libby for lunch at Cupboard Mountain Brewery first. There’s extra to do than simply benefit from the waterfalls although. A pleasant, pretty straightforward hike, with stunning views will convey you to the Kootenai Suspension Bridge. This bouncy however sturdy bridge affords a distinct perspective of the quickly flowing river and brings you to different stunning overlooks alongside the alternative financial institution.
Zipline and Journey Course
If you’re on the lookout for journey just a little nearer to Glacier Nationwide Park, the Glacier Highline is the right spot to convey the household. This journey park affords over 50 completely different highline and ropes course actions. There are ziplines, a treetop journey course, mountain climbing wall, Tarzan swing, and even an inflatable impediment course and waterslide.
Whitefish Mountain Resort additionally affords ziplining, an alpine slide, a treetop journey course, and even tubing in the summertime! For these not fairly so thrill-seeking, the resort affords scenic chair carry rides and climbing trails to get pleasure from, all just one hour from Glacier Nationwide Park.
If you’re on the lookout for thrills, strive white water rafting alongside Class II – III rapids on the Flathead River. There are a number of raft firms that function commercially guided raft journeys on the Center Fork and North Fork of the Flathead River. These areas are inside the Flathead Wild and Scenic River designation and are collectively managed by Glacier Nationwide Park and the Flathead Nationwide Forest.
Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Firm, Glacier Raft Firm, and Nice Northern Resort all function out of West Glacier. Glacier Guides supply half-day, full-day, and even in a single day journeys, in addition to calmer, family-friendly scenic float rides. Simply remember the fact that reservations are required and later within the season, the water could also be too low or gradual for rafting.
Many individuals go to Glacier Nationwide Park hoping to see wildlife (simply hopefully no shut encounters with grizzly bears), which is why it is best to at all times be ready with bear spray and recreate responsibly. Nonetheless, should you depart Glacier Nationwide Park with out recognizing any wild creatures, don’t fear. The Park isn’t a zoo and the wild animals wander all through the state. You could simply encounter a bear testing the picnic space of a city park (true story — occurred to us in Large Fork however fortunately it was only a black bear.)
I might be stunned should you spent any size of time close to Glacier Nationwide Park and didn’t encounter a minimum of some deer or elk alongside your drives, which is why you at all times want to remain alert, particularly when driving at night time.
Nonetheless, in order for you a close to assure of spying wildlife, drive two hours south of Glacier Nationwide Park to go to the Bison Vary. The Bison Vary, which has been restored to federal belief possession for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), is dwelling to 350 grownup bison. The Bison Vary is a pay-to-enter, fee-use space that incorporates a customer middle and a 24-mile scenic loop.
Guests ought to plan on taking a couple of hours to drive the one-way loop, however if in case you have much less time, you possibly can drive a decrease part of the loop earlier than turning again when it switches to one-way solely. Along with bison, there are additionally elk, white-tail and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and black bear, together with over 200 species of birds within the reserve.
Go Mountain Biking
There are a lot of biking trails close to Glacier Nationwide Park, together with the ten.5 mile paved Gateway-to-Glacier Path that runs from Hungry Horse to West Glacier and the Whitefish path for starting and intermediate mountain bikers. Glacier Information affords bike leases for these wishing to bike Going-to-the-Solar Street, together with e-bikes, and even offers guided biking journeys.
For one thing more difficult, Whitefish Mountain Resort affords downhill mountain biking with two lifts and over 25 miles of downhill trails from newbie to professional.
With so many issues to do close to Glacier Nationwide Park, you’ll not get bored. Simply pack your bug spray, solar display, climbing boots, cozy garments, water bottle and purchase some bear spray and prepare for journey.