Along with Waterton Lakes National Park on the Canadian side, Glacier National Park in the northern US Rockies was designated a biosphere reserve in 1976 and 1979 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 as part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
The Glacier National Park is characterized by its large number of glaciers and is not unjustly boasted as the “stone” crown of the Northwest”. Magnificent mountain lakes such as Lake McDonald or Lake St. Mary, forests, meadows covered with bear grass in spring, glaciers and rugged peaks characterize the picture of this natural paradise, the true face of which only hikers can see.
According to travelationary, the 2,026 m high Logan Pass is the highest point of the “Going-to-the-Sun-Road”, built in 1933, which winds its way through the park in serpentines. The 80 km long road first follows the south shore of Lake McDonald, then leads over the Logan Pass and further in switchbacks along the shore of the picturesque St. Mary Lake, on whose sparkling water surface the peaks of the surrounding granite giants are reflected.
Glacier National Park information
Location and Size
Established in 1910, Glacier National Park is located on the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains in northern Montana. The park covers an area of 4,100 km². Adjacent to the north on the Canadian side is Waterton Lakes National Park.
The western entrance to Glacier National Park can be easily reached by car from the towns of Kalispell (approx. 54 km), Whitefish and Columbia Falls. The east entrances of St. Mary, Two Medicine and Many Glacier Entrances can be reached from the town of Browning (approx. 202 km).
The park can be reached by air from either Glacier International Airport (approx. 50 km), Missoula International Airport (approx. 245 km) or Great Falls International Airport (approx. 266 km). Rental cars are available at the airports.
Opening Hours and Seasons
Glacier National Park is open year-round.
The visitor centers are open all year round in rotation, but may close at short notice on certain dates (depending on the weather). In general, the visitor centers are open from May to September. The detailed opening hours of the visitor centers can be found here .
prices Park admission is valid for all visitors for up to 7 days. Those arriving by private car, van, SUV, or RV must pay USD 35 per car in high season (USD 25 in low season from November to April 1st). The fee is USD 20 (USD 15 in low season) for individuals who walk or bike to the park and is also valid for up to 7 days. Motorcycles are $30 ($20 off-season).
America the Beautiful Annual Pass
The annual pass costs $80 and entitles you to visit over 2,000 US federal recreation areas and national parks for one year from the date of purchase. The entrance fee applies to the driver and all passengers of a private, non-commercial vehicle (or up to a maximum of 4 adults in total if per-person entrance fees are charged). Children under 16 are free. If you visit more than 4 national parks, it is usually worth buying the America the Beautiful Annual Pass.
The pass can be purchased at many stores across the US and is also available in advance from various tour operators.
Advance Reservations for Park Visits Reservations are required to access
the heart of the park along the Going-to-the-Sun Road (GTSR) and the North Fork area during peak season. This is the second year that the pilot ticketing system has been deployed at the park to handle heavy traffic and avoid congestion. Reservations are expected to be required between May 27th and September 11th . The plan envisages:
- One ticket per vehicle is required to enter Going-to-the-Sun Road at the West Entrance, St. Mary Entrance and New Camas Entrance.
- One ticket per vehicle is also required at Polebridge Ranger Station to visit the North Fork area of the park.
- The GTSR and North Fork tickets will be two separate entry tickets. The park expects some of the tickets to be available from early March. Like last year, visitors must create an account at www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/glacier to receive tickets. Although the park does not charge for tickets, Recreation.gov charges a $2 non-refundable service fee.
- Tickets are not required at the St. Mary entrance until the GTSR is fully open (usually at the end of June). Once snow removal and road preparations are complete and the road to Logan Pass is open to vehicular traffic, tickets will be required at the St. Mary entrance through September 11, 2022.
- The park is offering three-day GTSR tickets in place of last year’s seven-day and one-day North Fork tickets.
Park Shuttle Service
Glacier National Park has a free shuttle service during the summer months to visitor centers, campgrounds, lodging and hiking trails along the Going to the Sun road. The Apgar Transit Center is the starting point on the west side of the park. The shuttle runs approximately every 15-30 minutes. The St. Mary Visitor Center is the starting point on the east side of the park. From here the shuttle runs approximately every 40-60 minutes.
Camping is only permitted on the more than 900 signposted pitches. Apgar and Sprague Creek campgrounds require advance reservations, as do Fish Creek and St. Mary campgrounds. Reservations will be available on Recreation.gov . The Rising Sun and Avalanche campgrounds remain first come, first served. The park expects all campgrounds to be operational in 2022.
The western valleys of Glacier National Park receive the most rainfall. It is usually around 10 to 15 degrees warmer here than at higher altitudes. Strong winds and sunny days are characteristic of the east side of the park.
During the summer months from June to August, the temperatures during the day reach 15° to 21° C, at night it can cool down to 4° C. Daytime temperatures can even climb above 32°C, but it’s usually 10° to 15°C cooler at higher elevations. At night, the temperature can drop as low as -6 C. Snowfall is possible at any time, especially in areas that are above the tree line.
|Average temperatures in Glacier Park in °C
Prepare for a variety of different weather conditions. A T-shirt and shorts might be enough in the early morning, but a warm jacket is usually needed in the evening. It is advisable to dress according to the layering principle. Rain protection is absolutely necessary.
The Glacier National Park is visited annually by around 2 million guests from all over the world. Due to the varied attractions, there is something for every interest. The average visitor stays 3 to 4 days. However, it is easily possible to stay here for a whole week.
Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road is the highlight of any visit. This 80 km long road combines a lot of history with an incomparable landscape. Parts of the road are open all year round, the higher sections are only partially cleared in winter. Delays may occur due to road rehabilitation works.
Observe Vehicle Size Restrictions: Vehicles (and those with trailers) must not exceed 21 feet (6.4 m) in length, 8 feet (2.4 m) in width and 10 feet (3 m) in height overall . Otherwise, driving on the Going-to-the-Sun-Road is not possible, not permitted and definitely not recommended ( VUSA tip: My own experience with a 24 ft camper: There are a lot of narrow places, numerous rock overhangs and with oncoming traffic it is almost impossible to get past each other with a larger vehicle. Very limited alternatives in the narrow places, where it is extremely steep uphill on one side of the road and very deep down on the other.)