Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Activities & Programs

Throughout the year, you can enjoy numerous park activities and programs. Be sure to check park newspapers for current programs and schedules.

SPRING, SUMMER AND FALL

Park Programs

Glacier: Free evening talks, slide shows and guided walks are among the many park programs that will provoke your curiosity about Glacier's cultural, natural and historic wonders. 

Park interpreters visit the main hotels and campgrounds for evening talks. Programs change daily, so check with the hotel's front desk or park visitor centers for the day's offerings.

Throughout the year, you can enjoy numerous park activities and programs. Be sure to check park newspapers for current programs and schedules.

SPRING, SUMMER AND FALL

Park Programs

Glacier: Free evening talks, slide shows and guided walks are among the many park programs that will provoke your curiosity about Glacier's cultural, natural and historic wonders. 

Park interpreters visit the main hotels and campgrounds for evening talks. Programs change daily, so check with the hotel's front desk or park visitor centers for the day's offerings.

Park interpreters lead free walks and day-hikes on popular trails, interpreting each area's plants and animals, and recalling native tales. Activities and times are listed in the publication "Glacier Explorer" available in the park visitor centers, check at www.nps.gov/glac or call (406) 888-7800.

Waterton: Various interpretive and educational programs are offered at Waterton such as theater programs, children's programs and guided tours. Some programs require a fee. Ask for more information at the Waterton Visitor Center or Heritage Center, or call (403) 859-5133.

The free, full-day, round-trip International Peace Park Hike is offered every Wednesday and Saturday in July and August and spans both parks. Led by a U.S. park ranger- naturalist and a Canadian park interpreter, the hike begins in Waterton, stops near the International Boundary for lunch, and goes on to Goat Haunt Ranger Station. A boat cruise brings the group back to Waterton on the half-day trip. Cruise tickets are $6—$12 CAN (one way), depending on age, and can be purchased at the dock. There is also a shuttle that can take you from Upper Waterton Lake to the Crypt trailhead ($5—$11 CAN). For more information, please call (403) 859-2362.

Field Seminars

Glacier Institute and Waterton Natural History Association offer half-day to multi-day classes on topics such as art, history, geology and natural science. College credit can be arranged for many courses. Please contact Glacier Institute at (406) 755-1211 or Waterton Natural History Association at (403) 859-2624 for more information.

Backpacking and Guided Day Hikes

Guided backpacking and day-hiking tours of the parks can be arranged from mid-May through September. Gear rentals are available. Please contact Glacier Guides, Inc. at (800) 521-7238 for more information. Please see also "Walking and Hiking" on pages 54—57 and "Bears" on pages 60—61.

Bicycling

Bicycling is a popular way to tour Glacier and Waterton. Cyclists should be aware that park roads are winding and narrow, and have limited shoulder space. At Glacier, during busy summer months and the most congested hours of the day (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), bicycles are not permitted along Lake McDonald, between Apgar and Sprague Creek, and eastbound between Logan Creek and Logan Pass. Both parks have trails specially designated for cyclists. Bikes can be rented at Glacier Outdoor Center in West Glacier. Check at a visitor center for more information.

Boating

Guided boat tours are offered on most of the parks' larger lakes. In Glacier, the Glacier Park Boat Company plies Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Two Medicine Lake, and Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes at Many Glacier. The boats generally operate from June to mid-September with park interpreters on-board for many of the trips. Tours average one hour, round-trip. Contact Glacier Park Boat Company at (406) 257-2426 for more information. 

In Waterton, the International is the flagship of the Waterton Inter-Nation Shoreline Cruise Company Ltd. on Waterton Lake. This 72-foot ship was built in 1927 to complement the Prince of Wales Hotel. One of the routes includes a stop at the Crypt Lake trailhead, the start of one of Canada's most famous day hikes. The Waterton Lake trip usually takes about two hours. Please contact Waterton Inter-Nation Shoreline Cruise Company Ltd. (in summer) at (403) 859-2362 for more information. 

You can also rent small boats at Lake McDonald, Apgar, Two Medicine, Many Glacier and Cameron Lake. Boats are permitted on several of the parks' larger lakes. Use caution when boating. Keep alert for sudden changes in wind and weather, and head to shore immediately if you see a storm on the horizon. Although both parks have patrol boats, lake water is extremely cold and lakeshores are often empty, making it difficult to find help in an emergency. 

No personal watercrafts (i.e., Jet Skis®, Wave Runners®) are allowed in either park. Also, horsepower limits are in effect on various lakes.

Fishing

Five kinds of trout, whitefish, Kokanee salmon and Arctic grayling can be found in park waters. Please note that all bull trout caught in Glacier and Waterton must be immediately released to help protect this endangered species from extinction. Also, the use of lead-free fishing sinkers or jigs is required in both parks. 

A fishing license is not necessary to fish at Glacier, but anglers should be familiar with park regulations and limits. Pick up a copy of Glacier's fishing regulations at any entrance station or visitor center. The North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River, which border the park, are subject to Montana State fishing regulations and do require a license. 

In Waterton, anglers need to obtain a Canadian National Parks fishing permit. It costs $29.70 CAN for a one-year permit or $8.90 CAN for a day pass (fees subject to change). These permits are valid in all Canadian national parks. 

Trout fishing is also popular on Blackfeet tribal lands. A tribal fishing permit is required.

Golf

At 3,000 feet above sea level or higher, golf takes on a whole new dimension. Duffers can nail the long drives within Waterton Park and in East Glacier and West Glacier just outside the parks. Please call Glacier Park Lodge Golf Course at (406) 226-5642 for more information about golfing in East Glacier; please call the Flathead Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 543-3105 for more information about golfing in northwest Montana; and for Waterton golf information, call (403) 859-2114.

Horseback Riding

For updated information on guided horseback riding within Glacier National Park, please call Swan Mountain Outfitters at (877) 888-5557 or visit their website. Horse rides lasting from one hour to a full day are also available through outfitters in East Glacier. Alpine Stables provides guided horse tours in Waterton; please call (403) 859-2462 for more information during the summer. 

Riders may also bring their own horses into the parks, although horses are prohibited in some areas. Ask at the backcountry permit office for details. Under some circumstances, Mule Shoe Outfitters can board horses for one night at Many Glacier Stables. Alpine Stables in Waterton will also board horses overnight. Check at a visitor center about special restrictions and park access.

River Rafting

The Middle and North Forks of the Flathead River provide a range of rafting adventures. The Middle Fork, along Glacier's southern border, contains some excellent white water. The North Fork, bordering Glacier to the west, has both fast and calm water and is popular for all-day sightseeing tours because it meanders past Glacier's Livingston Mountain Range. Numerous rafting companies provide trips of varying lengths, including Glacier Raft Co., (800) 235-6781; Great Northern Whitewater, (800) 735-7897; Glacier Guides, Inc. (800) 521-RAFT (521-7238); and Wild River Adventures, (800) 700-7056. Please call for more information.

You can also bring your own raft or boat to run the rivers. Stop in at Hungry Horse Ranger Station on the Flathead National Forest near West Glacier for advice; please call (406) 387-5243 for more information. 

Wildlife Watching

Nearly everywhere you go, you're sure to see Columbian ground squirrels, marmots, deer, gray jays, ravens and countless songbirds. Logan Pass in Glacier is a prime spot for the white mountain goat, while Many Glacier Valley and Waterton are home to bighorn sheep. The Goat Lick turnout along U.S. Highway 2 on Glacier's southern border is also a common spot to see mountain goats as well as an occasional elk. Two Dog Flats near St. Mary Lake and the forests around West Glacier are prime elk habitat. Note: All animals in the park are wild and potentially dangerous. Keep a safe distance at all times for everyone's safety!

Winter

Winter adventurers will find much to explore. Free ecology interpretive snowshoe hikes are offered on the weekends from early January through mid-March; meet at the Apgar visitor center. Snowmobiles are not permitted in either Glacier or Waterton to preserve the winter solitude. 

Visitor Services

The parks' major hotels are closed between October and May, but West Glacier, Essex, Kalispell, East Glacier, Browning, Columbia Falls and Cut Bank host winter enthusiasts. Please call the Flathead Convention and Visitor Bureau at (800) 543-3105 for more information. Waterton's Kilmorey Lodge, (403) 859-2334, and Rocky Mountain Food Mart, (403) 859-2526, are open during the winter. Also open are the Lodge at Waterton Lakes, (403) 859-2150, Crandall Mountain Lodge, (403) 859-2288 and Waterton-Glacier Suites, (403) 859-2004.

Winter camping is available at Glacier's St. Mary Campground and Apgar picnic areas. Backcountry permits are available for up to seven nights in advance. Winter camping and winter backcountry permits are free. Waterton also has winter camping, which is available at the Pass Creek picnic area.

Road and Weather Conditions

Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge is open all year and is plowed during winter, as is the main road to Waterton. Akamina Parkway is plowed to Little Prairie but may close temporarily. U.S. 2 and 89 are plowed as well, allowing some access to Glacier's remote southern boundary, St. Mary Valley, Two Medicine Valley and Many Glacier Valley. 

Park Programs and Information

Apgar Visitor Center is open weekends in the winter. For weekday winter information, including road, weather and camping conditions, please call Glacier at (406) 888-7800. Winter visitor information services are available weekdays in Waterton at Park Headquarters; call (403) 859-5133.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Snowshoers and cross-country skiers can enjoy the long, gentle stretches of road on the eastern and western sections of Going-to-the-Sun Road, the Camas Road, North Fork Road and the road into Two Medicine Valley. In Waterton, routes from the Little Prairie picnic area, which has washrooms and a kitchen shelter with a wood-burning stove, are great for families and novice skiers. The rolling terrain is not difficult and is very scenic, particularly when you arrive at Cameron Lake. More experienced skiers make extended backcountry trips into the parks' interiors, especially around Cameron Lake, Avalanche Lake, Bowman Lake and Many Glacier Valley, but beware and be prepared: This is avalanche country.

Winter Wildlife Watching

Although you may not see as much wildlife in the winter, look for elk foraging on the prairie, or mountain goats and bighorn sheep pawing through the snow to find lichens and grasses. Note: Winter is a very stressful time for wildlife. If the animal is aware of you, or changes its behavior because of you, you're too close!