Exploring Montana
Glacier National Park

Mt. Gould in Glacier Park

Glacier National Park

Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park
Photo Use Guidelines

Glacier National Park is considered to be the crown jewel of the National Park System. Located in the northwest corner of Montana, near Kalispell to the west and Great Falls to the east, Glacier National Park is visited by about 2 million people a year. Unlike many National Parks, Glacier is primarily a wilderness park. While several roads, including the very scenic Going-to-the-Sun road, provide outstanding views and help provide a taste of the park, the secrets and incredible beauty of the park is best appreciated off the road on many of the excellent hiking trails.

Glacier National Park is known for its steep, towering mountains, deep valleys and many large lakes. During the last ice age, huge glaciers, often over three thousand feet thick, scoured away the mountains, creating deep valleys and knife-like mountain ridges. As the glaciers gradually slid down from the peaks, the glaciers moved a tremendous amount of material in front of them, known as a moraine. As the ice age began to end, the glaciers in the lower elevations began to melt. The melting water collected in the depressions where the glaciers previously were, and, trapped by the moraines deposited by the glaciers, formed massive lakes that run right up into the mountains.

Today, Glacier National Park still has some small glaciers, although they do not date from the last ice age. Some of these glaciers, such as the Grinnell Glacier, are relatively easily reached by trail. Others are situated in very remote and rugged corners of the park and are rarely explored.

The heaviest used attraction in Glacier National Park is the Going to the Sun road, a windy, twisty road built during the 1920's and 1930's that slowly makes its way over Logan Pass and connects the east side of the park to the west side. The road is very narrow and is built right on the sides of the mountains, with steep drop offs all along the roads edge. Due to the roads narrowness, no trailers over 20 feet are allowed going over Logan Pass.

There are a number of other roads in Glacier National Park as well. These roads are well worth traveling, as they frequently end up on the shores of scenic lakes such as Bowman Lake and Two Medicine Lake. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the roads in the North Fork area, which lies in the northwest corner of the park near the town of Polebridge, are all dirt roads and can provide for a rough and long ride.

Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park
Photo Use Guidelines

The fishing in Glacier National Park is not known for its excellence. The water is very cold and the rivers and lakes are quite sterile. Still, some excellent fishing can be had at several backcountry lakes, and is worth the time and effort spent getting to them. While Glacier National Park may not be a destination spot for fishing trips, fishing is a wonderful activity to do while visiting the park to do some hiking or taking in the sights.

Wildlife is quite abundant in the park, although not as readily and easily seen as in Yellowstone National Park. Grizzly Bears are frequently seen along the roads, particularly in the Many Glacier area. However, the best bet for seeing a bear is by going off the roads onto some of the trails that cut through prime grizzly bear habitat.

For the person who will be Hiking in Glacier National Park, especially in prime bear areas, it is highly advised to pick up a can of bear spray before heading onto the trail. Bears can be found in almost all areas of the Glacier, including near trailheads. As guns are not allowed in Glacier National Park, bear spray offers the hiker the best chance of intimidating a charging bear. Learn more about surviving a bear encounter.


Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National Park

Hiking Boots : Buyers guide to getting the right boot for hiking
Hiking Socks : Guide to getting the right sock for hiking
Trekking Poles : Why you should use one when hiking

Splinters Woodworks Website : A friend who has a woodworking business right outside of Glacier Park.


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