Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

In A Nutshell

Glacier and Waterton Lakes national parks are open daily, year-round. Glacier's visitor services, including hotels, tours and restaurants, are available from late May through September. Most Waterton services are available from late May to mid-September.

Entrance Fees

Glacier: An entrance fee of $25 is required and is valid for seven days; reduced rates may be offered in the winter. An annual pass to Glacier is $35. The new America the Beautiful Annual Pass costs $80 and is valid on public lands managed by the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and by the Department of Agriculture's U.S. Forest Service. It is valid for one year and offers unlimited coverage of entrance and standard amenity recreation fees. A senior pass, available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 and older, is available for a one-time $10 fee. And, U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities can obtain the access pass free.

Waterton: An entrance fee is charged at the park entrance. Daily or annual permits can be purchased for individuals or groups. For adult family/ groups, the daily fee is $17.30 CAN while the annual fee is $87.15 CAN. Senior and children's discounts are available. Please call (403) 859-5133 for further information.

Getting to Glacier and Waterton

Citizens of the U.S. and Canada should have two forms of identification (one of which must be a federal, provincial or state-issued picture identification), along with a birth certificate, passport or other credible proof of citizenship to clear customs. Single parents must have proof of custody of their children. Note: Special restrictions exist for crossing the border with pets, firewood, alcohol and bear sprays. All firearms must be declared. U.S. registered bear spray must have a USEPA label on it.

Glacier: Glacier's main entrances, West Glacier and St. Mary, are located on the western and eastern park boundaries at either end of Going-to-the-Sun Road. You may enter the eastern areas of the park from U.S. 89 or State Highway 49. The western areas of the park are accessed from U.S. 2.

Waterton: The only entrance is located on the park's northeast edge. To reach Waterton from the United States, take Route 17 (Chief Mountain Highway) through the Chief Mountain customs port, northwest of Babb, or follow U.S. 89 north to Cardston, Alberta, through the Piegan customs port. From Cardston, follow Alberta Highway 5 west to the park entrance. Visitors coming south from Calgary follow Alberta Highways 2, 3 and then 6. Winter conditions close the Chief Mountain customs station and its highway from October to mid-May.

Public Transportation

Air: The closest airport to Glacier is Glacier Park International Airport near Kalispell, Montana. It is located 25 miles southwest of the park's west entrance. Several different airlines serve the airport. Skywest, America West, Northwest, United and Horizon airlines fly into Great Falls, Montana, which is 138 miles from East Glacier. Those flying into Canada can land at Lethbridge, Alberta, which is 80 miles northeast of the Waterton entrance, or Calgary, Alberta, 165 miles to the north.

Bus: Transcontinental bus lines serve Kalispell and Great Falls. A shuttle is available between Kalispell and the park; for more information, please call Kalispell Taxi and Airport Shuttle at (406) 752-4022. The Flathead Glacier Transportation service is available from any location in the Flathead Valley; call (406) 892-3390. A shuttle van runs between Pincher Creek and Waterton Lakes National Park during the peak visitor season.

Rental cars: Rental cars are available in Browning, Columbia Falls, Essex (for guests only), East Glacier, West Glacier, Great Falls, Kalispell, Whitefish, Lethbridge and Calgary.

Train: Amtrak's historic Empire Builder route—whose main destination points are Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago, Illinois— follows the southern border of Glacier National Park. It stops at East Glacier, Essex, West Glacier and Whitefish.

Getting Around the Parks

You can travel by foot, horse, bike, boat and car in the parks. To help reduce traffic congestion, use the park's new shuttle system or take an interpretive tour.

Sightseeing Interpretive Tours: Let the drivers of the Scenic Interpretive "Red Bus" Tours do the driving while you view the sights of Glacier National Park. The tradition of Glacier Park, Inc. (GPI) offering visitors all-day and half-day informative and narrated tours on these vintage touring sedans throughout Glacier continues in 2006. Reservations for these tours can be made by calling (406) 892-2525 or at any of the hotel's front desks.

The antique red buses are both a symbol of Glacier National Park and a reminder of a time when adventurous travel was done with style and grace. The vintage sedans are called "jammer buses" by the locals, a name, which carried over from the days when the buses had standard transmissions and the drivers could be heard "jamming" the gears as they drove up and down the rugged mountainous highway. GPI's fleet of historic, red buses was taken out of service in 1999 for two years due to serious structural safety concerns. GPI donated the entire fleet to the National Park Foundation so that Ford Motor Company, a Proud Partner of America's national parks, could provide the work needed to put them back on the roads. All of the buses have undergone an extensive rebuilding process and have been converted to run on clean-burning propane fuel, making them 93 percent more environmentally friendly than before.

Sun Tours: Provides Blackfeet perspective tours over the Going-to-the-Sun Road and back in one day. Departs East Glacier, St. Mary and Browning. Tours are also offered during the peak season. Please call (800) 786-9220 or (406) 226-9220 for more information.

Road Information

Roads and highways to Glacier and Waterton are well-maintained and open for vehicles much of the year. Most park roads are clear during spring, summer and fall.

After years of planning and public involvement, the landmark Going-to-the-Sun Road is receiving much needed attention and rehabilitation. Comprehensive treatment of the alpine section (Logan Pass area) started in 2006.

Chief Mountain Highway is closed from the end of September to mid-May, although some sections open progressively throughout the season.

In winter, all areas of Glacier are open, but you have to be hardy to get there. The Going-to-the-Sun Road along Lake McDonald is plowed, but other park roads may be accessed only by skis or snowshoes. Snowmobiles are not allowed in the park. The road to the year-round community of Waterton Park is plowed all winter. The Akamina Parkway is also plowed to provide access to skiing opportunities in the Cameron Lake area, but it may be temporarily closed.

Current road conditions are available for Glacier at http://home.nps.gov/ applications/glac/roadstatus.cfm. Up-to-date road conditions are also available by calling 511 (or 1-800-226-7623), the Montana Traveler Information System. These toll-free numbers provide current park road information.

Weather

Mountain weather is fickle, so there's a chance for bright sunshine or snow every day of the year in Glacier and Waterton. Snow is not uncommon during June, July and August.

Although the days may get very warm (July's average high is 79ºF, maximum is 99ºF), temperatures may dip to around 45ºF after the sun goes down.

Late spring to early fall is the most popular time to see the region, although many visitors enjoy winter treks as well. September is a popular month because the weather is still comfortable, autumn colors emerge and the summer crowds are gone.

Park Headquarters and Visitor Centers

When you arrive, stop at a park visitor center to become acquainted with the wonders of the region. The centers have exhibits, maps and information on interpretive programs.

Staff members will be available to answer questions and provide services such as backcountry trail information. Visitor centers have publication sales outlets and provide restrooms and water fountains. GPI information desks at park lodges and motels provide information about dining, lodging and tours. There are no telephones at Logan Pass.

Glacier Visitor Centers

Glacier National Park Headquarters: The headquarters is located just before the entrance station at West Glacier and houses the park's main offices. It is open year-round, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please call (406) 888-7800 for more information. Information is also available at the front desk.

Apgar Visitor Center: This center is near the foot of Lake McDonald on the west side, two miles inside the park. It offers exhibits on Glacier's plants and animals, and is open daily from May through October and on weekends, November through April.

Logan Pass Visitor Center: Perched atop Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, at the Continental Divide, the Logan Pass Visitor Center features exhibits on alpine zone plants and animals, and a sales outlet for park publications. It is open from mid-June through September.

Many Glacier Ranger Station: The Ranger Station can be found adjacent to Many Glacier Campground. It has maps and publications for sale and is open from late May to mid-September. 

Polebridge Ranger Station: Just off the outer North Fork Road in the park's northwest region, the Polebridge Ranger Station also has some maps and publications for sale. It is open early-June to mid-September.

St. Mary Visitor Center: Located near St. Mary Lake, this centrally located visitor center on the east side of the park offers exhibits on geology and Glacier's life zones. It is open from mid-May through mid-October.

Waterton Visitor Centers

Visitor Center: This visitor center is located near the Prince of Wales Hotel. It offers a variety of literature about park features and the surrounding region. Park staff are available to answer questions and register backcountry campers. Weather permitting, the center is open from mid-May through mid-October.

Cameron Lake and Red Rock Canyon: These unstaffed interpretive exhibits are found on Akamina Highway and Red Rock Canyon Road, respectively.

Heritage Center: The Heritage Center is located in Waterton Townsite Park and is operated by the Waterton Natural History Association. They offer exhibits and literature featuring the history of Waterton Lakes National Park, the townsite, and animals and plants found in the park. It is open in the summer months.

Waterton Lakes National Park Headquarters: Waterton's headquarters can be found five miles from the entrance. Please call (403) 859-2224 for more information. It is open weekdays for winter information.

Park Newspapers

Waterton-Glacier Guide, a newspaper for both parks, is published several times a year and offers seasonal information on visitor services, wildlife, weather, safety and more. Glacier Explorer, a biweekly summer park publication, contains a complete schedule of guided hikes, ranger talks and special events in Glacier. Both publications are available for free at respective park entrance stations and visitor centers. These publications are also available online at www.nps.gov/glac.

Visitor Services

Duty-free: American citizens who have visited Canada for more than 48 hours, and have claimed no exemptions during the last 30 days, may bring back up to $800 worth of duty-free Canadian purchases. They must be for personal use or for gifts only. For more information on crossing from Canada into the United States, call (406) 889-3865. For information on crossing into Canada from the United States, call (250) 887-3413.

Speed limits: Canada uses the metric system, so be aware of speed limits when driving in Waterton. Speed limits are 25 to 45 mph on Glacier National Park roads unless otherwise posted.

Money: Both U.S. and Canadian dollars are divided into 100 cents, but exchange rates vary daily. You can convert money at banks near Glacier National Park and in the townsite of Waterton.

Banks

Several communities provide a range of banking services. U.S. institutions serve Bigfork, Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Whitefish and Browning. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are available in St. Mary, Columbia Falls, East Glacier, West Glacier, Hungry Horse, Coram and Waterton Townsite. ATMs are also located at Glacier Park Lodge, Many Glacier Hotel and Lake McDonald Lodge. For currency exchange, go to The Money Exchange in Tamarack Village Square in Waterton or the aforementioned U.S. banks. All Waterton merchants accept U.S. currency.

Camping Supplies and Groceries

Supplies such as food, firewood, fuel, camping gear and first-aid kits are sold at camp stores in Apgar, Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, Rising Sun and Swiftcurrent. Stores in Waterton Townsite and the gateway communities of Babb, Browning, St. Mary, East Glacier, West Glacier and Polebridge also carry supplies.

Emergencies and Medical Service

First-aid services are available at all visitor centers, and ranger and warden stations. In Glacier, please call 911 for immediate help regarding all emergencies. In Waterton, call (403) 859-2636 for emergencies. For medical treatment on the west side of Glacier, contact Kalispell Regional Medical Center, (406) 752-5111 or; Whitefish's North Valley Hospital, (406) 863-3500. At Browning, on the east side of Glacier, Blackfeet Indian Health Service will treat non-tribal persons on an emergency basis only; call (406) 338-6164. Kalispell and Great Falls provide helicopter medical teams in emergencies. In Canada, full hospital facilities are available in Cardston, (403) 653-4411, or Pincher Creek at (403) 627-3333.

Gift Shops

Postcards, film and souvenirs are sold at park hotels in Apgar, Lake McDonald, Rising Sun, St. Mary, East Glacier, Two Medicine and Many Glacier as well as other gateway communities. Stores in Waterton Townsite and Browning also supply visitors' gift needs. For collectibles, regional products and ecotourism information, stop by The Trail of the Great Bear Gift Shop and Travel Centre in Waterton Park. Film, books and maps are sold at Logan Pass Visitor Center as well as at the Apgar, Many Glacier, Polebridge and St. Mary's visitor centers.

Lost and Found

Report or drop off lost and found items at any visitor center in Glacier. Contact Glacier National Park, Attention: Lost and Found, West Glacier, MT 59936; (406) 888-7800. In Waterton, drop off lost and found items at the RCMP building (summer). Call (403) 859-2044 or fax (403) 859-2003. During the off-season, drop off items at park headquarters.

Postal Services

All Glacier hotel sites have mailboxes. Just outside the park, you can find post offices in West Glacier, Polebridge, East Glacier, Babb and Browning. Lake McDonald also has a summer post office. Canadian postal services are available in Waterton Townsite.

Religious Services

Nondenominational services are held on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer at Glacier's Park Headquarters, most major Glacier campgrounds and many hotels. Waterton Townsite is home to Catholic, LDS, United and Anglican churches. Check the Waterton-Glacier Guide for current schedules and locations.

Service Stations

More complicated repairs can be handled at Coram (eight miles west of West Glacier), in East Glacier, and at Waterton Townsite. If your car breaks down on a park road, contact a park ranger or warden, or call one of the main park numbers: (406) 888-7800 in Glacier; (403) 859-5133 in Waterton.

Special Services

Many public facilities are wheelchair-accessible. Visitors with mobility impairments, however, may need assistance to reach facilities during winter because of frequent heavy snows.

Services: The park switchboards can receive calls from telephone devices for the hearing-impaired (TDDs). Please call (406) 888-7806 for Glacier and (403) 859-2224 for Waterton.

There are audiocassettes and CDs designed to narrate most major park routes available for purchase at visitor centers. All self-guiding trails include printed brochures or signs for interpretation of points of interest. Visitor centers and hotels feature interpretive displays, lectures and slide shows that give visitors a peek into the park's most difficult-to-reach areas. 

Trails: Trail of the Cedars at Avalanche Campground, five miles up Going-to-the-Sun Road from Lake McDonald Lodge, is designed for all people to negotiate. Other accessible trails include the Apgar bike path, the Oberlin Bend overlook near Logan Pass in Glacier and the Linnet Lake and Townsite loop trails in Waterton. The first wheelchair-accessible trail on Glacier's east side now provides access to Running Eagle Falls in Two Medicine Valley. The trail sign and leaflet located at the trailhead interpret the importance of this significant place in the Blackfeet culture.

Lodging: Most hotels and visitor facilities in Glacier and some in Waterton are wheelchair-accessible.

American Indian Interpretive Tours: Van tours highlighting Blackfeet culture and history in relation to Glacier's natural features are available. Please call (800) 786-9220 or (406) 226-9220 for more information.

Camping: Campgrounds at Fish Creek, Apgar, Sprague Creek, Avalanche, Rising Sun, Two Medicine, and Waterton Townsite have accessible sites and restrooms. Roads through most campsites are paved, but wheelchair passage on foot trails may require assistance.

Please contact Glacier National Park for a complete listing of the accessible facilities and services in the free brochure entitled, Accessibility in Glacier National Park. At Waterton, the Access Guide is available. You can also consult Easy Access to the National Parks, which is available in most bookstores.

Comments

We are coming by Amtrak to West Glacier in August with our camping gear.  Getting to Apgar from there by taxi is no problem.  After camping a bit and visiting the western side of Glacier, we would like to make our way to Many Glacier and hope to camp there.  On the Glacier website, I could not find a way for us to get to Many Glacier if we do not have a car.  If we took the park shuttle to, say, Rising Sun (one of the shuttle stops), could we then hike to Many Glacier?  Or is that WAY TOO FAR?  (Which is what I imagine you are thinking.)  Or is there another way to get there wihtout having to walk many miles?  Also, are we naive to think we will even find a campsite in late August since all but a couple campgrounds do not have reservation possibilities?  Thank you.

Hi Jimmy,

You’re right in looking to the park shuttle as a great way to get around the park without a car. It is possible to hike to Many Glacier from the shuttle route, but be prepared for a long trek!

You have two options: You can take the Highline Trail from the Logan Pass stop on the park shuttle or the Loop Trail from the Loop stop on the park shuttle. Both of these trails lead to Granite Park Chalet. You can then head over Swiftcurrent Pass and down toward Many Glacier. The Highline Trail route is about 16 miles, but is more scenic and has less elevation gain. Taking the more strenuous Loop route will cut about four miles off your trip, but be prepared for a steep climb until you reach Granite Park Chalet!

Many Glacier campground does not take reservations, and it’s recommended that you arrive before 10 a.m. to get a spot during the busy summer months. Since your hike in will put you at the campground much later than that, you may want to consider other options, like backcountry campsites along your route or a reservable room at one of the park lodges for a night.

We hope this information helps you with your trip. Please be sure to stop back to let us know what you find when you get to the park! In the meantime, if you know anyone else with questions about planning an outdoor adventure, send them our way!