This is a great place to enjoy a mountain hike and the outdoors for a few hours. From the exit, it's a beautiful 10-mile drive up a forested hanging valley to the glacier trailhead. The glacier, technically a large snowfield compacted in a mountain saddle at the timberline, is thought to be the southernmost glacier in the United States. During drought years it all but vanishes; a wet winter creates a wonderful Ice Age playground throughout the following summer. Most visitors are content to make the steep ¾-mile hike on a rock-strewn path up to the base of the glacier to admire the snowfield and sparkling sapphire lake. The intrepid hiker, with the right type of gear, can climb up the rocky right-hand side of the snowfield to a plateau less than a mile above for sweeping views of the Continental Divide. Because of its proximity to Denver, St. Mary's Glacier is a popular weekend getaway for summer hikers, snowboarders, and skiers. There are no facilities or parking, except for a rough pull-out area near the base of the trail, and you risk a ticket if you park on private property. Don't look for a St. Mary's Glacier sign on I–70; it reads "St. Mary's Alice" to refer to the nearby ghost towns.
I–70 Exit 238, west of Idaho Springs., Idaho Springs, Colorado, 80452, United States
May 29, 2010
Hello all, I am the owner of the St. Mary's Glacier Paid Parking Lot. It is the mentioned "pull out" by the trailhead. I charge $5 per vehicle, per day (self-pay,cash,have exact amount or check), and do provide 2 toilets w/hand sanitizer, trash/recycle cans, dog waste bags, and the only "legal" parking which is open all year round. I live up here and keep the lot clean and managed. The hike is great all year round, but come prepared for conditions.
3/4 mile hike will get you to Glacier Lake (fishable), 1 mile to the Glacier, and 4-5 miles up to the top of the Continental Divide, or specifically James Peak Wilderness Area. Hope this info helps! Paul