Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park was designated the nation's 10th national park on May 11, 1910. Biking, boating, horseback rides...it's all here. It preserves over 1,000,000 acres of forests, alpine meadows, and lakes. Its diverse habitats are home to over 70 species of mammals and over 260 species of birds. The spectacular glaciated landscape is a hikers paradise containing 700 miles of maintained trails that lead deep into one of the largest intact ecosystems in the lower 48 states. The park contains over 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and six National Historic Landmarks. In 1932 Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Park, in Canada, were designated Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This designation celebrates the longstanding peace and friendship between the two nations. Glacier and Waterton Lakes have both been designated as Biosphere Reserves and together were recognized, in 1995, as a World Heritage Site.
Motorized vessels are allowed on McDonald, Sherburne, St. Mary, Upper Waterton, and Lower Two Medicine Lakes. No boat launch ramps exist on Sherburne Lake so only hand carried craft are permitted. Motorized vessels are also allowed on Bowman and Two Medicine Lakes but are limited to ten horsepower or less. Privately owned motor vessels are prohibited from all other park waters. Personal watercraft (jet skis) are prohibited in the park.
Hand-propelled boats and sailboats are permitted on park waters with the following exception: from April 1 through September 30, the section of Upper McDonald Creek between Mineral Creek and Lake McDonald is closed to all types of boating and floating to protect nesting Harlequin ducks.
Boating tours and rentals are also available.
Over 270 species of birds visit or reside in the park, including such varied species as harlequin ducks, dippers and golden eagles.
Glacier Park is perhaps the best place to see harlequin ducks in the lower 48 states. These "clown ducks", painted in a gray-orange-black-white costume, seem to frolic as they swim and dive in the turbulent water of McDonald Creek.
Dippers (water ouzels) prefer the same habitat and often may be spotted on a rock midstream "dipping"-- vigorously bobbing up and down. Their long wading legs have feet with no webs so locomotion upstream is provided by thrusting their stubby wings and tail and "flying" underwater.
In the old growth forests of the McDonald Creek area, swifts often appear at dusk to feed on hatching insects. They bathe while skimming calm water and splash themselves with their tails; they even mate in flight.
Black swifts and Vaux's swifts eat many insects, but are known more for their nesting habits. Vaux's swifts are colony nesters that use huge hollowed snags in the old growth forest for their roosts and nests. They emerge by the hundreds like bats from a cave at feeding times.
At the other end of the altitude spectrum in the alpine tundra, timberline sparrows, rosy finches and white-tailed ptarmigans spend their summers breeding and raising young. Ptarmigans remain there through the winter, molting white to match the snow. They walk on the deep alpine snows with feathered feet, "snowshoes" which increase the surface area of their feet by four times.
During summer, at high elevations near treeline, Clark's nutcrackers thump their wings audibly and squawk loudly.
Bike Going-to-the-Sun Road, most of which is paved. It's an exhilarating and challenging way to see Glacier National Park, and one that is becoming more and more popular each year. It takes about 45 minutes to ride from Sprague Creek to Logan Creek and about three hours from Logan Creek to Logan Pass.
One of the most amazing highlights of Glacier National Park is a drive on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This engineering marvel spans 50 miles through the park's wild interior, winding around mountainsides and treating visitors to some of the best sights in northwest Montana.
With 13 different campgrounds and approximately 1,009 sites to choose from, options are plentiful. Most campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis for a fee. Campsites at Fish Creek and St. Mary are reservable no more than 6 months in advance. Group campsites at St. Mary Campground are reservable no more than 12 months in advance. Reservations through Recreation.gov must be made 3 days in advance. Utility hook-ups are not provided and connection to water, sewer, or electrical outlets is prohibited.
Fishing is permitted when consistent with preservation or restoration of natural aquatic environments. The standard park fishing season for all waters in the park is from the third Saturday in May through November 30. All waters west of the Continental Divide (as well as Midvale Creek in the Two Medicine River drainage and Wild Creek in the St. Mary River drainage) are subject to catch and release fishing only for cutthroat trout.
Over 700 miles of trail provide many outstanding opportunities for both short hikes and extended backpacking trips. Glacier Guides Inc. offers guided backpacking trips. For more information, call 406-387-5555.
Guided horseback rides are available inside the park at Many Glacier, Lake McDonald, and Apgar.
For information and reservations contact: Swan Mountain Outfitters 1-877-888-5557
Horseback riding is not permitted in the winter.
Picnic areas are available at most campsites.
Glacier Guides offers rafting trips outside of the park. For more information, call 406-387-5555.
Glacier National Park is home to 62 species of mammals. The lynx and grizzly are threatened species, while the gray wolf is endangered. Fishers and wolverines are rare in Glacier Park. Northern bog lemmings live only in a few wet fen/bogs in the park. But they are all present in a spectacular mix that is unique in the continental U. S.
Winter ski and snowshoe trails throughout Glacier offer access to spectacular scenery and some uncrowded recreational opportunities.
Glacier National Park is open every day of the year. Winter weather however, tends to dictate when most visitor facilities open. Generally from late May to early September, facilities are open to welcome the flush of summer visitors. Plowing on the Going-to-the-Sun Road begins in April. Other park roads generally open in May, weather permitting.
Glacier's western valleys generally receive the most rainfall. Daytime temperatures can exceed 90 degrees F. It is frequently 10 to 15 degrees cooler at higher elevations. Strong winds and sunny days predominate on the east side of the park. Overnight lows throughout the park can drop to near 20 degrees F, and snow can fall anytime. In August of 1992, a foot of snow fell on the northeastern corner of Glacier. Prepare for a variety of conditions and pack accordingly. You may start the day in a T-shirt and shorts, and need a parka by evening. Dress in layers. Always bring raingear.
The Glacier National Park Fund supports the preservation of the outstanding natural beauty and cultural heritage of Glacier National Park for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations by fostering public awareness and encouraging private philanthropy.(406) 862-3252
Glacier Park Inc. offers a variety of lodging within the park. Depending on where you want to stay in the park, the company provides an option for each area. Choose from Many Glacier Hotel, Lake McDonald Lodge, Prince of Wales Hotel, Rising Sun Motor Inn, Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, Village Inn, and Grouse Mountain Lodge. For those who want to spend time in cabins, there are Swiftcurrent, Rising Sun and Lake McDonald provide rentals.(406) 892-2525
West Entrance - Near the communities of Kalispell, Whitefish, and Columbia Falls, the West Entrance provides access to the Lake McDonald area, Park Headquarters, the Apgar Visitor Center and is the west entry point to the Going-to-the-Sun-Road. From Kalispell, take Highway 2 north to West Glacier (approximately 33 miles).
St. Mary, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier Entrances - Closest to the town of Browning, all three entrances can be reached by taking Highway 89 north from Great Falls to the town of Browning (approximately 125 miles) and then following signage to the respective entrance. The St. Mary Entrance is the east entry point of the Going-to-the-Sun-Road and provides access to the St. Mary Visitor Center and services at Rising Sun. The Many Glacier Entrance provides access to the Many Glacier Valley and visitor services at the Many Glacier Hotel and the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.
West Entrance - Glacier Park International Airport is located near Kalispell and is approximately 30 miles west of the West Entrance. Missoula International Airport is located approximately 150 south of the West Entrance.
St Mary, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier Entrances - Great Falls International Airport is located between 130 miles to 165 miles east of East Glacier Park, St Mary, Two Medicines and Many Glacier Entrances.
Car rentals are available at airports. Shuttles are available at the Kalispell airport.
Public transportation options are limited. Shuttles from airports and train stations provide some service to visitors to the park.