Hey! I want to remind all those who love adventure and travel that there is SO MUCH to see around this country. Numerous spaces are extremely accessible, inexpensive, and absolutely mind-blowing. This is my take on one of those amazing areas that people forget are available. Social distancing is easy in places like this! Here are MY favorite amazing things to do in Glacier National Park.
Exploring Things to do In Glacier National Park
With everyone worried about what's closed right now or how places are too crowded or have major restrictions, a lot of us are left wondering what the heck there is to do to get away from the mundane. PEOPLE! We've forgotten about the amazing National Park system and locations that are available. All it takes is a little research and road time, and you've got a phenomenal trip in the works. So without further ado, let's dive into things to do in Glacier National Park!
Packing for things to do in Glacier National Park
You always want to TRY your best to be prepared for travel into the outdoors. The first step in being prepared and making good choices is having done a little research about the broad array of things to do in Glacier National Park. We're here to help! Trust me, this place can be overwhelming if you go in without some sort of concept of what it has to offer.
Personally, I've made tons of mistakes in all my travels. That said, I've also learned from them. The thing about national parks is that you want to be ready for a handful of options from the parking lot. If you've never visited Glacier National Park, you're looking at day hikes, boat tours (canoes or kayaks), swimming, sudden changes in weather (warm to cold). You'll also want to make sure you have water and snacks.
Glacier National Park Seasonality
Weather conditions force many of the roads to close in winter, so make sure to check the National Park Service Current Conditions page before planning your trip. Typically, everything's open from late May to early December. Outside of that, most lodges and shops are closed, and the roads and other services may be hit-or-miss. That website is also a great place to get the latest-and-greatest info on things to do in Glacier National Park.
First things first! Logan Pass
As far as the most important things to do in Glacier National Park, be SURE to start with Logan Pass and get to the gate as early as possible in the morning. This location is so popular – and limited in parking – that you can usually see a string of headlights from the park gate to the top of the mountain even before the sun comes up.
It's also one of the best places to start your experience in the park for either the east or west sides of the mountain. You can take Hidden Lake Trail to Hidden Lake, or if you are daring take a shot at the Highline Trail to the north side. Just be sure to dress warm and have a good set of hiking boots. It's quite cold up there!
Views and Animals
As far as gear goes, other than warm layers, be sure to bring sunglasses and binoculars. One of the games I like to play with the boys involves spotting wild animals such as bighorn sheep and mountain goats. I assign a point system based on the rarity of the animal and the difficulty the boys might have spotting them. I did learn that this game can be stressful for some kids who try extremely hard but struggle with animal spotting…so I make sure everyone wins something.
Just to the east side of Logan Pass on Going To The Sun Road is one of the prettiest. most majestic valleys I've ever seen. Definitely add this to the list of must-do things in Glacier National Park.
Other Things to do in Glacier National Park, Like Sleep
One SUPER important thing to remember is that there are many MANY things to do Glacier National Park. So many, in fact, that I highly recommend pacing yourself. You and your kids want to enjoy it and make positive memories, not just recall sheer exhaustion. Schedule in lots of downtime for playing games and relaxing! One of our favorite places to stay when traveling is Kampgrounds of America, and the KOA just outside Glacier National Park is probably the most spectacular there is.
There are a TON of options and bookable cabins at the West Glacier KOA, so check them out if you want to visit the area. We were lucky enough to be able to book the Tucker Lodge, which was the MOST AMAZING log cabin/lodge I've ever stayed in. Our cabin was so awesome, you might even think of it as yachting for campers. It was way beyond glamping. We played games, Chelsea drank wine, I cooked, and we even watched a movie or two.
The Family Hiking Trails
On the east side of Logan Pass is one of the most family friendly and scenic hiking trails. Head to the Sun Point Nature Trail and walk west along St. Mary Lake to Baring Falls. This simple hike is not too long and is one of the most kid-friendly things to do in Glacier National Park.
There are a number of waterfalls along this trail, just be sure to go at your own pace and be wary of heat. It's easy going if you have a little water pack to take along, and the kids love them. The boys have bright yellow ones that makes it easy to spot them among other families if they run off.
Glacier National Park On a Hot Day
If it's hot out, swimming is definitely one of the most refreshing things to do in Glacier National Park. The water is quite cool and extremely clear. Stock up for a picnic at Lake McDonald Lodge and head north just past Trail of the Cedars to Red Rock Point. Bring a towel! Drying off in the sun might take a while, and we saw a few wet wanderers awkwardly realizing they were underprepared.
If you get there at the right time of day and it's not crowded, this is a magical little swimming hole. Don't be alarmed if the wild trout in the water come right up to say hello. Many of these little Rainbow Trout tried to nibble on the hair of my legs. I only wish I was this enticing to fish when trying to catch my dinner back home.
The Campfire is the Nightcap
After a fun day, there's little better than a campfire to bring things to an end and the family closer together. Honestly, I can't say enough good things about Kampgrounds of America at West Glacier National Park. It was so amazingly clean and full of options for kids and dogs, we spent half a day just playing on-site. Not that you'll run out of things to do in Glacier National Park, but it's really nice to have an amazing place to unwind!
If you are looking for a way to get out and feel free, definitely consider visiting one of your nearest National Parks. Of all the National Parks I've visited, Glacier National Park is absolutely one my favorite. Clean air, tons of trees, crystal clear water, low visitor density, and plenty of things to do as a family.
Have you found more fun things to do in Glacier National Park? What are your faves?