Glacier National Park is a 1,600-sq.-meter wilderness region in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, with glacier-carved valleys and peaks running to the cold Canadian border. The hilly Going-to-the-Sun Road crosses it. Among more than 500 miles of hiking trails, it routes to photogenic Hidden Lake. Other adventures include cycling, backpacking, and camping. Diverse wildlife in Glacier National Park ranges from grizzly bears to mountain goats.
Glacier National Park Landscape
Glacier National Park is a remarkable display of the geological evolution that transformed North America over millions of years. The park’s rock formations are almost totally sedimentary, laid down between 1600 to 800 million years ago when this region was an inland sea. They were uplifted during the Rockies’ formation starting around 170 million years ago, and today carry some of the most splendid Proterozoic fossils in the world. The mountains were shaped into their present form by the retreat and retreat of glaciers during the last ice age, and the place, as its name suggests, includes an abundance of glacial traits, including valleys, lakes, and traces of glaciers.
Reaching Glacier National Park on a Car- Two Ways.
- Going to the Sun Highway: The most magnificent viewpoints in the park are along this route. It is not accessible to traffic in Winter and opens from May – Oct. The highlights include Logan Pass at the Continental Divide, Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, and Rising Sun.
- Looking Glass Hill Road: This road has an exceptional view of Lower Two Medicine Lake from the hill’s top. Also, it’s a shortcut (though winding and narrow) from East Glacier to the east side of the park, so you don’t have to drive all the way to Browning and back. Beware there is no safe guardrail on this track. If concerned, only go in the northbound route, so you won’t be driving in the outer lane above the sharp edge.
Things to do in Glacier National Park:
- Biking – Bicycles are restricted to roadways, bike paths, and local parking areas. Check the National Park Service’s Glacier site for path, and current road closures. Bikes are completely forbidden on trails. Bicycle rental is currently not available in Glacier National Park. It is allowed to bike the length of Going-to-the-Sun Road, but the park limits bike access during traffic hours since many portions of the road do not have edges. The best times to go are the late afternoon or early morning. Although it is most comfortable to bike the road from east to west, be ready for a steep elevation gain as you near Logan Pass and pass the Continental Divide from any direction.
- Camping – There are many backcountry campgrounds near the trail system and front-country campgrounds available to RVers and motorists.
- Boating: Boat tours are accessible at Many Glacier, Waterton Lake, Two Medicine, Rising Sun, and Lake McDonald. Personal motorized boats are allowed on some of the park’s lakes but are usually limited to 10 hp motors.
- Fishing – Glacier is renowned for its excellent trout fishing. Fishers may fish without licenses and can keep any fish they catch, but are advised to clean fish correctly: throw entrails into the water far from shore, as the smell of fresh fish will draw bears.
- Winter Activities: Park guests may explore the park using snowshoes and skis during the winter. Some tracks may be closed due to snow-related hazards or avalanche, and travelers should check conditions with a guard before departure.
- Horseback riding – Most of the park’s paths are open to horses. Guided trips and horse rentals are available at Many Glacier, Two Medicine, Waterton Lake, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Rising Sun.
- Hiking – Over half of the travlers to Glacier National Park report taking a hike along some of the park’s 500 miles of trails. Hikers can buy trail guides, topographical maps, and field guides at tourist centers. Guided backpacking treks and day hiking are available. Check the National Park Service’s Glacier site for more information. The Trail of the Huckleberry Mountain, Cedars, Sun Point, Hidden Lake, and Swiftcurrent Nature Trails are hiker friendly and have flags that dot the trails to help hikers.