Places to Visit: Glacier National Park

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Glacier National Park

A quick three hours north of Missoula you will find Glacier National Park, a summer destination for thousands of people each year and home to the most pristine glacial terrain left in the lower 48 states.

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  • Glacier National Park just celebrated its 100th Birthday.
  • A quick and picturesque drive 31/2 hours north of Missoula.
  • Buy a 7-Day Pass for $25.00.
  • Experience the 'Going-to-the-Sun' road.
  • Don't forget your camera as the vistas, mountains, and glaciers are sure to take your breath away.

Overview

Glacier National Park was designated in 1910 and just celebrated its centennial anniversary. Glacier is home to mountain lions, grizzly bears, wolverine, lynx and over 60 additional mammal species. The healthy ecosystem also supports hundreds of bird species, amphibians, fish and insects. Stepping into Glacier is a step into some of the last remaining intact wilderness found in the United States. Experience the jagged peaks, alpine lakes, forest canopy, and don't forget the parks namesake, the glaciers.

Season

Technically, the park is open year round, but as summer fades and winter pushes in, most of the park facilities close for the winter. This transition generally occurs in mid-September. Luckily, ten miles of the 'Going-to-the-Sun' road, between the West Glacier park headquarters and the Lake McDonald Lodge, remains open for winter recreational activities. Note, that visiting during the winter months requires you to be much more self reliant than during the summer months.

Entrance Fees

  • Summer (May 1st - November 30th)
    7- Day Automobile Pass: $25.00
    7- Day Individual Pass: $12.00
    GNP Annual Pass: $35.00
  • Winter (December 1st – April 30th)
    7- Day Automobile Pass: $15.00
    7- Day Individual Pass: $10.00
    GNP Annual Pass: $35.00
  • Camping Fees: There are 13 campsites in Glacier National Park and all but two (St. Mary's and Fish Creek) function on a first come first served basis. Services vary at each campsite. Fees range from $10-$23 per night. 

Contact

Park Headquarters
PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936
(406) 888-7800
http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/index.htm

Highlights

  • Going-to-the-Sun road winds through the heart of Glacier National Park covering 50 miles of pristine landscape. This road is an engineering wonder and hugs the mountainside as it twists around tight curves and opens up to amazing vistas, including a view of Jackson Glacier. Without stopping it takes two hours to drive from the east end of the road to the west. Expect significant delays due to construction, traffic, and wildlife.
  • Explore some of the 700 miles of trails that offer both short hikes and extended backpacking options. For a nice day hike, try the Hidden Lake nature trail. The trail winds under an alpine canopy and is often still spotted with snow before opening up to an amazing view of Hidden Lake. Looking for something a bit different, horseback your way into the park and explore Many Glacier or the wilderness around Lake McDonald.
  • Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park at ten miles long and over a mile wide. It is a must see. Beat the crowds and rent a canoe or kayak and explore the distant shores.
  • In addition to the natural features, don't forget to keep your eyes open for wildlife. Glacier is grizzly bear country, so take the necessary precautions.

Getting Here

Driving from Missoula to Glacier National Park is not only easy, it is beautiful. As you travel on US-93 the imposing Mission Mountains will be on your right before you pass along the west shoreline of the grand, Flathead Lake. As you pass the lake, the mountains become a tad more imposing and Glacier can be seen in the far distance.

From Missoula, take I-90 west, take exit 96 and merge onto Hwy 200/US-93 north. After roughly 100 miles, turn right on Market Place St. Market Place turns right and becomes 2nd Ave E N. From here, right onto US-2 east, take a left to continue on the highway and then a right on to MT-40/US-2 east. The entrance to Glacier National Park will be on your left.

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