It’s hard to make a recommendation for the best hikes in the park because each person comes to Glacier with different ability levels and expectations. Everyone tends to be looking for something a bit different, whether it’s distance, difficulty, views, or limited number of visitors. Hike 734 created a map that ranks all the day-hikes in Glacier in a biggest-bang-for-your-buck format and gives a full run down on all of the day hikes in the park including breaking the hikes down by total distance, elevation gain/loss, and area of the park. Whether you are looking for a hike easy enough for the whole family, or a trek that will exhaust even your most gung-ho buddy, this map will help you figure out which trail to explore and give you an idea of what to expect. Just don’t forget the bear spray! Check out the Hike734.com website
Yes. We highly suggest that visitors carry bear spray in the park as Glacier is home to the largest numbers of both grizzly and black bear in the lower 48. Sightings happen every day in the park and bear spray has been shown to be the most effective deterrent in addition to being an inexpensive way to prevent bear attacks. We offer convenient rentals at Glacier International Airport and at our shop in Apgar Village, just inside the west entrance of the park. One of the benefits of renting bear spray from Glacier Outfitters is that we will make sure that you are comfortable carrying bear spray and know how to deploy it in the case of a bear encounter. We will also go over how to safely recreate in grizzly country.
Getting to St. Mary and Many Glacier from Kalispell, while well worth the drive, often takes longer than visitors expect. There are two main routes: Going to the Sun Road goes through Glacier Park and is the most direct route. However, it is important to be aware that the road will not be open to vehicles until mid-summer, generally around July 4th. When it is open to vehicles, it is worth noting that GTTSR can take just as long as the southern route due to the narrow road, traffic, and wildlife that may cause delays. Additionally, there will be construction on the road over the summer of 2020, so make sure you keep up-to-date on construction status and closures. The southern route will take you around the southern end of Glacier through the towns of West Glacier and Essex and over Marias Pass. The drive is less scenic, but is open all year ‘round.
Transportation options to the park are very limited, so we highly advise having a plan ahead of time to save yourself frustration! One of the easiest options to get to the park is Uber, Lyft or Glacier Taxi. All operate in the Glacier area with some drivers specializing in transporting gear. A more cost effective option is Eagle Transit, the Kalispell bus system which runs a bus several times daily that goes from the hotel across the parking lot from the airport up to Apgar Village. Check their website for the most up-to-date schedule and a map of stops. Glacier Park has operated a shuttle within the park, which is set up to haul bikes during hiker/biker season. They provide transportation for hikers and sightseers during peak season. The shuttle system is undergoing changes in 2020, so make sure to stay up-to-date on shuttle status. Other options include the famous Red Buses and, of course, rental cars. If you are hiking the CDT or similar trail and are seeking transportation to Chief Mountain or another starting point, you may want to check the Trail Angels contact lists or social media groups to get in contact with locals who are willing to help through-hikers with transportation and other needs.
Campgrounds Glamping Hotels/Motels In the park
Of course everyone who has visited the park will have a different opinion, and we believe that it’s hard to go wrong, whatever you chose to experience in the park. A few of our staff picks: Polebridge: a tiny town only accessible by gravel road. Polebridge is worth the drive, especially if you explore the nearby Kintla and Bowman Lakes. Stop in at the Mercantile and get one of their famous huckleberry bear claws. A visit to Polebridge gives you a window into “real” Montana. Highline Trail: Hike734.com rates the Highline Trail as the top hike in Glacier. You can read more about it here: hike734.com Paddle Lake McDonald: paddling the lake, whether in a canoe, kayak, or on a stand up paddle board, is a beautiful and unique experience that is accessible to many people, even if you are not able or interested in hiking. The lake offers gorgeous views and as easy or challenging an experience as you may be looking for. Our knowledgeable shop staff can direct you on the best places to see, and the hazards to be avoided. Bike Going to the Sun Road: Biking Going to the Sun Road (GTTSR) is an experience that is genuinely unique to Glacier and is only available a few weeks out of the year. Beginning in the late spring, hikers and bikers can access the GTTSR on weekends (and most week days, depending on closures for plowing. If you plan to bike on a weekday, make sure to keep up-to-date on any closures!) It is closed to vehicles until plows are able to open the road, generally in early to mid-July. Seeing the iconic, breathtaking views from the seat of a bicycle will be an experience you won’t ever forget.