Spanning over one million acres, Montana’s Glacier National Park is one of the most expansive national parks in the United States. There’s no shortage of sites, activities, and attractions within the park’s boundaries, making it one of the most action-packed national parks in the country (and one of our favorites at HearHere).
From spotting wildlife on the mountain peaks to a mountain biking adventure to kayaking and rafting down whitewater rapids, Glacier is an incredible destination for people of all ages and interests. Nicknamed the Crown of the Continent, Glacier has stunning views you’ll have to see to believe.
If you’re looking to check off another national park on your bucket list, look no further than Glacier. Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Glacier National Park.
1. Go on Many, Many Hikes
Glacier National Park is home to some of the vastest and most beautiful terrains in not just Montana, but North America as a whole. In addition to the titular glaciers—which you must see before they sadly disappear—Glacier hosts lush evergreen forests, serene alpine lakes, and wildlife-filled sub-alpine valleys. From Lake Bowman to Avalanche Gorge, this park has a variety of options for everyone.
The best way to explore this wide diversity of hikes is to set out on Glacier’s over 700 miles of hiking trails. Here are some of our favorites:
Trail of the Cedars
This aptly named hike traverses a dense forest of towering cedar trees. Along this trail, you will receive incredible views of Glacier’s flora and fauna as well as an emerald-blue waterfall.
Plus, this hike is Glacier’s most accessible. Only a little longer than half a mile, the Trail of Cedars is completely wheelchair and stroller accessible.
While more strenuous than the Trail of Cedars due to some elevation gain, the Apikuni Falls hike is relatively easy at just under two miles. This trail begins in a meadow, and then it takes you through an aspen-fir forest until you reach a rocky substrate. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with an unparalleled view of a 100-foot waterfall.
Along this hike, you will also find views of some of Montana’s tallest mountains––Mount Allen (9,377 feet), Mountain Siyeh (10,014 feet), and East Flattop Mountain (8,356 feet).
Unlike most of Glacier’s hikes, Avalanche Lake provides a 4.6-mile trail that cuts through a dense forest. In a place known for dramatic alpine views, Avalanche Lake provides a quiet hike that lives up to its name, ending at a private, crystal-clear lake.
This trail starts at the Trail of Cedars, making it a perfect choice for those who want to add some distance to the easiest hike in the park. When you get to the top of the Trail of Cedars loop, follow the signs for Avalanche Lake.
The serenity of Alpine Lake makes for a perfect sunset picnic spot. Like many of the hikes in the park, be sure to carry bear spray with you.
If you want to kick it up a notch, the Grinnell Glacier Trail provides a strenuous 10.6-mile hike that rewards you with some of the best scenery in the park.
Alongside one of the park’s foremost glaciers, you will see waterfalls, emerald-green lakes, wildflowers, and stunning alpine views. Some commonly-spotted wildlife along this trail include moose, bears, and mountain goats.
This oasis of beauty is one of the most photographed places in Glacier for a reason. While the 12.6-mile hike is challenging, it provides a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop.
Surrounded by jagged cliffs and slopes of wildflower-ridden grass, this brilliantly blue lake will remain in your memory for a lifetime. Did someone say holiday card?
2. Raft Down a River
Sourced from the glaciers and snowmelt, Glacier National Park is home to some of the country’s bluest, most serene rivers. Our favorite way to experience these rivers is to hop in a raft and float down them.
If you have young kids or just want to relax, several float tours explore the calmest parts of Glacier. However, if you’re looking to crank it up to 11, you can jump headfirst into Glacier’s whitewater rapids.
The Glacier Rafting Company provides exhilarating rafting experiences. Half-day trips will include up to 3.5-hours of class II to III (medium-intensity) rapids. However, you can also do a full-day trip, including even more rafting and a Montana-style BBQ lunch.
If you just can’t get enough of Glacier’s rapids, consider a multi-day trip. This unbeatable experience includes two to three days of whitewater rafting and riverfront camping.
3. Take a Red Bus Tour
In addition to the 12,000-year-old glaciers, one of Glacier National Park’s most unique fixtures is its fleet of vintage buses. First put into service in the 1930s, these red convertible buses continue to provide regular tours of the park. In fact, these buses are the oldest touring fleet of vehicles anywhere in the world.
Allowing you to ride inside history, red bus tours are one of the most fun ways to experience the park. If you love seeing the sites from your passenger seat, you should also take a drive down Going-to-the-Sun Road in West Glacier during your trip. It’s considered one of the most scenic drives in the United States!
4. Spot the Wildlife
Glacier National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife. No matter where you go, you are guaranteed to spot some of its many adorable creatures. From bighorn sheep to black bears, the fauna in this park is truly amazing. You can even go horseback riding to immerse yourself in the animal kingdom.
If you want to see as many animals as possible, here are some of Glacier’s most defining species and where to spot them:
Unless you live in the high mountains, there’s a good chance that you’ve never seen one of these majestic animals in real life. Aptly named for their big horns, these sheep tend to hang out in the high country to stay cool and safe from predators.
You can often spot bighorn sheep along the Highline Trail or walking the boardwalk to the Hidden Lake overlook.
Not to be confused with sheep, these furry creatures are known for their thick white coats and unbelievable mountaineering skills. If you’re lucky, you may get a chance to see these athletes climb an impossibly steep cliff.
Your best chance at seeing these goats will be near the aptly-named Goat Lick, Logan Pass, Sperry Trail, or Iceberg Lake.
Glacier National Park is home to both black bears and grizzly bears. Glacier is even home to one of the highest concentrations of grizzlies in the lower 48 states.
While they populate the entire park, the Iceberg and Ptarmigan Lake trails are hot spots. As always, remember to take proper bear-viewing precautions.
Reaching up to seven feet tall and 1,500 pounds, Glacier’s moose are sure to leave you in awe. With their massive size and plentiful numbers, these magnificent creatures truly run the park.
Lately, you can spot moose wading in Fishercap Lake, an easy hike from the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn (one of our favorite places to stay in Glacier). You can also spot them at Red Rock Lake.
When you do find moose, remember to keep your distance. While they may seem docile, moose are fast, massive, and hostile when they’re with their young—but they’re adorable from afar.
Get the Lowdown With HearHere
Whether you’re excited for a photo op at Wild Goose Island, paddling on Lake McDonald, eating huckleberry ice cream at Swiftcurrent lake, or enjoying apres-ski at Whitefish Mountain Resort, Glacier National Park has something for everyone.
You can even grab your passport and take advantage of the border crossings into Alberta, Canada, located directly across from Glacier. There’s no shortage of options—and delightful lodges like the Glacier Hotel—for any family or adventurer.
A weekend in nature really is the best medicine, and you’ll leave Glacier feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Now that you know what to do, it’s time to hop in the car and drive up to Glacier National Park. Are you looking for something to listen to on your road trip? Download HearHere to accompany you along the journey.
Whether you find yourself among nature in Glacier National Park or somewhere just as wondrous, check out HearHere to make your trip one of a kind.