Despite the retreat of its namesake glaciers, Glacier National Park (GNP), in the northernmost part of Montana's Rocky Mountains, is a rapture for the active or laid-back outdoor lover. The lakes, rivers, peaks and high meadows of GNP's backcountry---filled with hiking and climbing routes and opportunities for fishing and swimming---are accessible by car. The Going to the Sun Highway, open from June to September, cuts through the park's midsection, crossing the Continental Divide and reaching trailheads and gorgeous alpine slopes.
GNP is famous for its classy historic log lodges, cabins and backcountry chalets. Motels can also be found at the park's portals at East Glacier and St. Mary on the east slopes and at Apgar, West Glacier, Whitefish, Columbia Falls or Polebridge on the west side.
GNP has nearly 1,000 campsites on 13 campgrounds, only two of which take reservations (Fish Creek and Saint Mary). Most of the campgrounds have running water and some have adjacent token-operated shower facilities. RV spaces vary from site to site. Very strict food storage rules are imposed to avoid confrontations with bears.
Tours and Travel in the Park
You can drive right through the middle of the park (size restrictions exist for vehicles) on the Going To The Sun Highway. In addition, there are narrated boat tours along the park's enormous lakes at Many Glacier, Two Medicine, Rising Sun and Lake McDonald (or small boat rentals). You can also take guided horseback rides and road tours with Glacier's familiar Red Bus fleet or on shuttles.
Follow a Ranger
Between June and September, rangers lead walks and hikes, give official and impromptu talks and organize amphitheater programs in the park.
More than 700 trail miles can be day-hiked or backpacked to some of the USA's most dazzling destinations. Backcountry permits are required for overnight trips. Check with rangers about recent bear activity before setting out.
You can take in more scenery while pedaling GNP and get in shape as you go. Main roads are closed to bikers from 11:00 pm to 4:00 am. It's about a three-hour ride from Logan Creek to Logan Pass.
GNP's lakes and rivers may be fished from shore or from boats without license or permit, but bull trout must be released if caught. Fishing regulations can be found on the park's website, listed below.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Ski and snowshoe trails make access into GNP possible in the winter, a particularly scenic and uncrowded time.
The Glacier Institute
Hands-on, field-based, scientific educational adventures are offered in and around GNP, exploring the Crown of the Continent ecosystem and geology---with its native dominion of predator-prey animal species---and the history of local Native-American activity.
Flathead Valley Specialties
From the Flathead River Valley on the southern border of GNP, whitewater-rafting trips and helicopter tours are available.