Glacier Natl Park

Overview

Introduction

In our opinion, it's worth the effort to travel from anywhere in the state to see this absolutely spectacular array of glaciers, hundreds of lakes, waterfalls, trout streams, cliffs, forests, wildflowers and mountains. Glacier is the U.S. portion of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a joint preserve and recreation area maintained by the U.S. and Canada. Its beauty has made it a popular national park, but it's big enough that you can still find places where you'll feel like the nearest human is worlds away.

Be sure to travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road, an impressive feat of engineering that runs 50 mi/80 km across the Continental Divide and ventures deep into the park, passing inspiring alpine scenery along the way. Going-to-the-Sun Road is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and one of the most scenic roads in North America. The full length of the road is open by mid-June, but only a 10-mi/16-km stretch of the road remains open in winter. A free Going-to-the-Sun Road shuttle makes stops at popular destinations and trailheads along the way. The shuttle runs early July-early September.

Throughout the park you'll see free-roaming wildlife: moose, elk, deer, mountain goats (lots of them) and marmots (they're like big, furry groundhogs). Bears, including the fierce grizzly, are also found in the park: Be sure you understand the park service's safety guidelines before heading off on a hiking trail.

In its most active months (late May-September), the park offers a full range of activities: National Park Service guided tours, backcountry hiking (the park has more than 700 mi/1,127 km of hiking trails), biking, nature trails, picnicking, horseback riding, rock climbing, swimming, rafting, boating and fishing. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular in winter. For overnight stays, there are campgrounds, lodges and chalets (early reservations are necessary).

Adjoining the eastern boundary of the park is the 1.5-million-acre/607,000-hectare Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The Museum of the Plains Indian, located in the town of Browning, has artifacts and displays related to the tribes of the area, as well as exhibits of contemporary Native American crafts. The North American Indian Days Celebration is held the second week of July in Browning. The celebration includes traditional Native American games, dances and artwork, including displays of painted tepees, colorful feather headdresses and beaded deerskin outfits.

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