This Glacier National Park itinerary will ultimately help you achieve a heavenly visit to a place you’ll want to return to again and again.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK ITINERARY SUMMARY
|Day 1 —||Travel day|
|Day 2 —||Travel / enjoy lodging amenities / Lake McDonald|
|Day 3 —||Going-to-the-Sun Road / Logan Pass|
|Day 4 —||Saint Mary’s Lake Boat Tour|
|Day 5 —||Avalanche Lake / Trail of the Cedars|
|Day 6 —||High Ropes, Zip Lines, Go-Carts, etc. & head home|
|Day 7 —||Travel home (or onto Banff?)|
Travel Day to Glacier National Park (Day 1)
In case your home base is nowhere near northwest Montana, we’ll put this first day down as a travel one.
Enjoy Lodging & Lake McDonald (Day 2)
First off, the main entrance to Glacier National Park is the West Glacier Entrance. If you fly, the closest airport is Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Montana.
The West Glacier KOA was recently voted #1 KOA in North America, so that’s a great place to stay. It’s clean, beautiful, updated, and had tons of unique amenities. In particular, the deluxe cabins are very homey with large patios and decks. Or, of course, you can bring your own camper to this best-in-class KOA.
If a campground isn’t your thing, the historic Lake McDonald Lodge sure has a ton of character. Honestly, its setting can’t be beat on the shores of Lake McDonald. Even if you’re not staying here, make a visit to explore the shoreline at this gorgeous lake. Watch the sunset here, if you can time it right.
Alternate lodging options in the park are extensive. Sure sounds like you couldn’t go wrong with the Many Glacier Hotel either.
Going-to-the-Sun Road & Logan Pass (Day 3)
Start off your first full day in Glacier by driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road. “Whoa, what a view!” That is for sure what you’ll be thinking as you navigate this amazing area. It’s just awe-inspiring and known as one of the best drives in the world. You’ll see why when you get there!
There are two entrances to Going-to-the-Sun Road: Apgar and St. Mary Visitors Centers. The road is a total of 50 miles, but with all the cool sights and stop along the way I’d plan on at least two hours if you were going to drive it end to end in one time frame.
A great plan to stop at the halfway point is Logan Pass. It’s the highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Unfortunately, the parking here is really tough so try to get there early or use one of the park’s shuttles.
At Logan Pass, there are two hikes. Consequently, our plan was to hike the 2.7 miles round trip to the Hidden Lake Overlook, but when we got to the trailhead we learned of grizzly bear sightings so the trail was closed. Yikes!
Instead, I tried to talk my group into hiking the Highline Trail, near Logan Pass. Sadly, I had no takers. Now granted, the path is along a very narrow and steep mountain ridge overlooking the Going-to-the-Sun Road. So being afraid of heights is out of the question.
But, this trail is truly one of a kind, so I say go for it. You never know if you’ll be back!
Saint Mary’s Lake Boat Tour (Day 4)
Next, make your way to Saint Mary Lake. There is a two-hour boat tour here, and halfway through you stop for a short hike to the beautiful Baring Falls.
A few other boat tours exist on other Glacier Lakes too, if you don’t make it to this area of the park on your visit.
To round out the day, if you still have daylight ahead of you, go hike to the beautiful Saint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls.
Avalanche Lake & Trail of the Cedars (Day 5)
Without a doubt, the one-hour hike to Avalanche Lake will be a trip highlight. I’d recommend taking the time to just sit on the shores and staring up at the waterfalls that flow down the mountains. The beauty of this area will simply take your breath away.
I vividly remember resting on a large rock and reflecting on all of life’s blessings, and what got my family to this beautiful spot on Earth. Bliss!
If a one-hour hike is too far, just do the Trail of the Cedars. It’s really flat, fortunately, with boardwalks along certain parts. The trees are huge and some are over 500 years old! Really cool area. Don’t miss it.
The trail that takes you to Avalanche Lake is along that same path, it’s just further down.
High Ropes, Zip Lines, Go-carts and travel (Day 6)
Will you have kids along and want a change of pace from sightseeing and hiking? Mine did, and they sure loved the Glacier Highline Adventure Park. The high ropes course and zip lines created all kinds of smiles.
Next, head down the road to the Amazing Fun Center for some mini-golf, a maze, bumper boats and go-cart racing. For us, it was a fun few hours before a very long 17+ drive home. All worth it though!
Continue on to Banff?
One last note, Banff (in Alberta, Canada) is only 5 hours north and is absolutely worth the drive. We visited on the front half of our Glacier trip, so check out my itinerary for that trip too. Highlights include Lake Louise, Tea House hike, Johnston Canyon, Glacier Skywalk, and the Columbia Icefield.
More time in Glacier National Park?
- Many Glacier – I’ve read great things about this area of the park, so worth looking into.
- Two Medicine – this region of the park is less visited than other parks, and has lots of hiking.
- Granite Park Chalet – built in 1914, this rustic, back country lodge is a National Historic Landmark. The only way in is via a few different trails.
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A peak at Heaven’s Peak
We passed this sign in Glacier National Park and it caught my eye. I couldn’t help but wonder what the view is like from up there…