March 26, 2023

Glacier Nationwide Park is likely one of the hottest parks within the Nationwide Park Service, but these guests who aren’t fortunate sufficient to attain both a lodge reservation contained in the park and/or car reservations to drive Going-to-the-Solar Highway would possibly discover themselves pissed off with restricted entry to the park. However don’t despair, even when your time inside the park is restricted, there are many enjoyable and adventurous issues to do close to Glacier Nationwide Park. In spite of everything, magnificence and nature don’t cease on the park borders!

After I visited Montana final fall, I solely spent someday exploring the park, however then loved every week doing different actions close to Glacier National Park. Visiting GNP might be an train in endurance coping with full parking heaps, bumper-to-bumper visitors, ready in strains, and crowded mountain climbing trails — under no circumstances what persons are on the lookout for in an “outdoorsy” trip.

Don’t fret! Go to Glacier, tick the field, stamp the passport, purchase the t-shirt, see the highlights and scenic drives…then transfer on to all of the issues to do outdoors of Glacier Nationwide Park.

In the event you need assistance planning a visit to Glacier Nationwide Park, my good friend Bryanna has put collectively a terrific Glacier National Park Guide with 39 pages of stop-by-stop directions, mountain climbing choices by issue stage, eating suggestions, and insider suggestions. It even consists of an alternate RV itinerary for RVers!

The place to Keep Close to Glacier nationwide Park

Word: My journey to northwest Montana was sponsored by Glacier Nation Tourism, however all opinions are my very own. This put up comprises affiliate hyperlinks. In the event you click on a hyperlink and make a purchase order, I’ll obtain a small fee.

Logan Pass in Glacier National Park

Earlier than we get to all of the issues to do round Glacier Nationwide Park, let’s first work out the place to remain close to Glacier Nationwide Park, particularly since getting reservations within the park requires some critical advance planning and many driving to get from one part of the park to the opposite.

If you will be visiting most of the points of interest close to Glacier Nationwide Park, you can be higher off staying west of the park, in West Glacier or the encompassing areas. Lots of the locations to go to close to Glacier Nationwide Park included beneath are higher accessed from the areas west of the park.

There are various glamping choices close by, however for an extended keep I’d advocate sticking to one of many bigger cities, which additionally provides extra facilities and companies. Whitefish Mountain Resort is actually widespread, together with vrbo vacation rentals, however something in and round this ski resort city goes to be a bit dear.

Staying in Kalispell to the southwest of Glacier will present extra funds choices as there are a selection of chain resorts simply outdoors of the downtown. Plus, whereas there are nice eating places and breweries on the town, the realm by the freeway and resorts additionally has superstores, chain eating places, and quick meals/quick informal choices. After I visited, I stayed on the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Kalispell, which was fairly handy and good.

Seek for different choices:

Issues to do Close to Glacier Nationwide Park

After visiting Glacier Nationwide Park, some folks like to go north throughout the border into neighboring Waterton Lakes Nationwide Park in Canada or head as much as the Canadian Rockies to see Banff and Jasper. Nonetheless, there are many issues to do close to Glacier Nationwide Park proper in Montana – no passport required!

Listed below are a couple of of the issues to do outdoors of Glacier Nationwide Park that provides you with that out of doors trip and journey you’re looking for.

Llama trekking

Llama trekking in Montana with woman walking across bridge and llama in the water

Drive an hour south of West Glacier for probably the most distinctive out of doors experiences you’ll ever have — trekking with llamas. In spite of everything, who desires to go for a daily hike when you’ll be able to go on a hike with llamas? Swan Mountain Outfitters will introduce you to your llama for the journey and knowledgeable information will take you into the Flathead Nationwide Forest to take pleasure in a picnic lunch by a waterfall.

You don’t want to fret a few factor on this family-friendly trek because the information packs the lunch and the llamas carry it for you. Or, you’ll be able to go for a shorter, adults-only afternoon trek with wine. The llamas are so awkwardly cute that it’s unimaginable to not smile. Extremely advocate this exercise for anybody that wants an excellent psychological well being break.

Kayaking or paddleboarding

Two canoes on river with greenery
Picture courtesy of Glacier Nation Tourism

There are various rivers and lakes to take pleasure in in Northwest Montana outdoors of the well-known ones in Glacier Nationwide Park (e.g. Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Avalanche Lake or Hidden Lake.) You may take pleasure in kayaking or paddle boarding on Whitefish Lake, fly fishing on Flathead River, and boating on the immense Flathead Lake.

One of many extra distinctive and stress-free methods to get out on the water is to paddle the Clearwater River Canoe Path. Situated on the shore of Seeley Lake and surrounded by Lolo Nationwide Forest, Tamaracks Resort gives tools rental and a shuttle service to take pleasure in a lazy, three-hour scenic float down the Clearwater River Path. Alongside the way in which, you may even see wildlife alongside the river together with turtles, fish, birds, and possibly even a moose. 

Sundown Cruise on Flathead Lake

Couple sitting on the back of the boat on Flathead Lake
Picture courtesy of Glacier Nation Tourism

Flathead Lake is the biggest freshwater lake in Montana, and in all the Western U.S. by floor space, should you exclude Alaska. It’s over 27 miles lengthy and 15 miles vast on the widest level. It averages 164 toes in depth, however it might stand up to 370 toes deep. Additionally it is one of many clearest lakes in the USA. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, together with the Montana Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, who handle the lake work onerous to make sure it stays clear and clear by inspecting all watercraft for invasive species.

With a mess of coves carved into an irregular shoreline and a number of islands within the lake, it’s best to discover Flathead Lake by boat. Flathead Lake Charters provides half or full-day fishing charters, the place you’ll be able to fish for lake trout, pike, yellow perch, whitefish, rainbow trout, bass, kokanee salmon, and a few bull trout. In the event you don’t wish to go fishing, Discover Flathead Lake provides non-public scenic boat excursions of most of the stunning coves alongside the lake, with a cease on Wildhorse Island for a hike.

Nonetheless, a night sundown cruise to observe the colourful glow on the Mission Mountains as you discover the shoreline and cliffside views of Rocky Level and the Flathead River is a visit spotlight when visiting Glacier Nation. Deliver your personal drinks and snacks and sit again and absorb the pure magnificence.

While you’re exploring Flathead Lake, you should definitely spend a while within the darling little city of Huge Fork. This charming, artsy city feels prefer it might be in a Hallmark film, with cute boutiques, galleries, and cafes.

Hike By way of the Cedars

Tamara looking up at trees in Ross Creek Cedars Scenic area

Couldn’t get a parking spot on the trailhead for the Path of the Cedars in Glacier Nationwide Park? That’s okay. You may stroll by an enormous cedar grove at Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area in Libby, Montana. It’s a lengthy drive to get there however one of many enjoyable issues to do outdoors of Glacier Nationwide Park is to take a scenic drive by stunning Montana anyway (plus you’ll be able to go to some waterfalls alongside the way in which).

Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Space is a grove of western purple cedars with an interpretive strolling path a few mile lengthy. A number of the bushes are as much as 400 years previous and attain eight toes in diameter. The scenic space is off of Freeway 56, up a four-mile lengthy entry highway that winds up and round to the parking zone.

The path takes about one hour to discover should you cease and browse the intepretative indicators that explains the realm’s ecology and historical past.

Chase Waterfalls

Kootenai Falls in montana

There are various waterfalls in Glacier Nationwide Park, similar to Virginia Falls and Saint Mary Falls, however you can too discover stunning waterfalls throughout Northwest Montana. Columbia Mountain Path, which isn’t removed from the park, has three waterfalls alongside the path.

Additionally, about two-and-a-half hours from the park, in your technique to Ross Creek Cedar Path, you’ll find Kootenai Falls, one of many largest free-flowing waterfalls within the Northwest. The falls space is a sacred web site to the Kootenai folks and it was as soon as a spot the place tribal members communed with religious forces. Right now, you’ll be able to observe strolling trails right down to the river’s edge and alongside the falls.

This can be a pretty spot for a picnic or you’ll be able to cease within the city of Libby for lunch at Cupboard Mountain Brewery first. There’s extra to do than simply benefit from the waterfalls although. A pleasant, pretty straightforward hike, with stunning views will convey you to the Kootenai Suspension Bridge. This bouncy however sturdy bridge provides a special perspective of the quickly flowing river and brings you to different stunning overlooks alongside the alternative financial institution.

Zipline and Journey Course

Woman on zip line image courtesy of GCT
Picture courtesy of Glacier Nation Tourism

If you’re on the lookout for journey slightly nearer to Glacier Nationwide Park, the Glacier Highline is the right spot to convey the household. This journey park provides over 50 completely different highline and ropes course actions. There are ziplines, a treetop journey course, mountain climbing wall, Tarzan swing, and even an inflatable impediment course and waterslide.

Whitefish Mountain Resort additionally provides ziplining, an alpine slide, a treetop journey course, and even tubing in the summertime! For these not fairly so thrill-seeking, the resort provides scenic chair raise rides and mountain climbing trails to take pleasure in, all just one hour from Glacier Nationwide Park.

Whitewater Rafting

Yellow raft with passengers on river paddling through rapids image courtesy of GCT
Picture courtesy of Glacier Nation Tourism

If you’re on the lookout for thrills, strive white water rafting alongside Class II – III rapids on the Flathead River. There are a number of raft firms that function commercially guided raft journeys on the Center Fork and North Fork of the Flathead River. These areas are inside the Flathead Wild and Scenic River designation and are collectively managed by Glacier Nationwide Park and the Flathead Nationwide Forest. 

Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Firm, Glacier Raft Firm, and Nice Northern Resort all function out of West Glacier. Glacier Guides provide half-day, full-day, and even in a single day journeys, in addition to calmer, family-friendly scenic float rides. Simply remember the fact that reservations are required and later within the season, the water could also be too low or gradual for rafting.

See Wildlife

Bison on Bison Range in Montana

Many individuals go to Glacier Nationwide Park hoping to see wildlife (simply hopefully no shut encounters with grizzly bears), which is why you need to at all times be ready with bear spray and recreate responsibly. Nonetheless, should you go away Glacier Nationwide Park with out recognizing any wild creatures, don’t fear. The Park isn’t a zoo and the wild animals wander all through the state. Chances are you’ll simply encounter a bear trying out the picnic space of a city park (true story — occurred to us in Huge Fork however fortunately it was only a black bear.)

I might be shocked should you spent any size of time close to Glacier Nationwide Park and didn’t encounter no less than some deer or elk alongside your drives, which is why you at all times want to remain alert, particularly when driving at night time.

Nonetheless, if you need a close to assure of spying wildlife, drive two hours south of Glacier Nationwide Park to go to the Bison Vary. The Bison Range, which has been restored to federal belief possession for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), is house to 350 grownup bison. The Bison Vary is a pay-to-enter, fee-use space that contains a customer heart and a 24-mile scenic loop.

Guests ought to plan on taking a couple of hours to drive the one-way loop, however when you’ve got much less time, you’ll be able to drive a decrease part of the loop earlier than turning again when it switches to one-way solely. Along with bison, there are additionally elk, white-tail and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and black bear, together with over 200 species of birds within the reserve.

Go Mountain Biking

Mountain biker going downhill image courtesy of GCT
Picture courtesy of Glacier Nation Tourism

There are various biking trails close to Glacier Nationwide Park, together with the ten.5 mile paved Gateway-to-Glacier Path that runs from Hungry Horse to West Glacier and the Whitefish path for starting and intermediate mountain bikers. Glacier Guide provides bike leases for these wishing to bike Going-to-the-Solar Highway, together with e-bikes, and even gives guided biking journeys.

For one thing tougher, Whitefish Mountain Resort provides downhill mountain biking with two lifts and over 25 miles of downhill trails from newbie to professional.

With so many issues to do close to Glacier Nationwide Park, you’ll not get bored. Simply pack your bug spray, solar display screen, mountain climbing boots, cozy garments, water bottle and purchase some bear spray and prepare for journey.

Visiting Montana? Learn Extra:

Save this to Pinterest

9 Things to do near Glacier National Park

Discover this handy? Share it!