26 Best Sights in Glacier National Park, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Fodor's choice
Sun Road, McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana
Alexey Kamenskiy / Shutterstock

This magnificent, 50-mile highway—the only American roadway designated both a National Historic Landmark and a National Civil Engineering Landmark—crosses the crest of the Continental Divide at Logan Pass and traverses the towering Garden Wall. Open from mid-June to mid-September only (due to heavy snowfalls), this is one of the most stunning drives in Glacier National Park. A multiyear Sun Road rehabilitation project will result in some driving delays due to reconstruction. The drive is susceptible to frequent delays in summer. To avoid traffic jams and parking problems, take the road early in the morning or in the evening (when the lighting is ideal for photography and wildlife is most likely to appear). Glacier National Park Service operates a free hop on, hop off shuttle service from Apgar Visitor Centre to St. Mary Visitor Centre during the peak season. Vehicle size is restricted to under 21 feet long, 10 feet high, and 8 feet wide, including mirrors, between Avalanche Creek Campground and Sun Point. Cyclists enjoy traveling the open part of the road in early June before it is open to vehicular traffic.

Highline Trail

Fodor's choice

From the Logan Pass parking lot, hike north along the Garden Wall and just below the craggy Continental Divide. Wildflowers dominate the 7.6 miles to Granite Park Chalet, a National Historic Landmark, where hikers with reservations can overnight. Return to Logan Pass along the same trail or hike down 4½ miles (a 2,500-foot descent) on the Loop Trail. Moderate.

Apgar

In a tree-shaded area at the southern end of Lake McDonald, the Apgar Campground has tables, drinking water, and restrooms.

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Apgar Village to Polebridge (Camas Road and North Fork Road)

The 25-mile journey to the tiny community of Polebridge involves travel along a gravel road that has a few potholes, but the scenery along the north fork of the Flathead River makes up for the bumpy ride. Be on the lookout for wildlife, and be sure to stop for a snack at the Polebridge Mercantile and Bakery.

Avalanche Creek

This picnic area is near two popular day hikes. There are tables, restrooms, and drinking water, and shuttle transfers are available in summer.

Baring Falls

For a nice family hike, try the 1.3-mile path from the Sun Point parking area. It leads to a spruce and Douglas fir woods; cross a log bridge over Baring Creek and you arrive at the base of gushing Baring Falls. Easy.

East Glacier Park Village to Two Medicine Lake and Saint Mary Lake

You'll see the striking contrast of prairies and mountains as you travel northwest from East Glacier Park Village to Two Medicine Lake on MT-49. Once you turn onto Two Medicine Road, you'll be heading straight toward snowcapped peaks and lovely Two Medicine Lake. From there, head back out to MT-49 and then to US-89 North to make your way to the town of St. Mary and then onto the Going-to-the-Sun Road to reach St. Mary Lake, the park's second largest. The entire route is 49 miles one-way. End the drive with an additional stop at Swiftcurrent Lake, and you'll cover about 75 miles total.
East Glacier Village, Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Fish Creek

In a forested area adjacent to Lake McDonald, this picnic area has tables, drinking water, and restrooms. Nearby there's a swimming area and several trailheads.

Goat Lick Overlook

Mountain goats frequent this natural salt lick on a cliff above the middle fork of the Flathead River. Watch the wildlife from an observation stand.

Grinnell Glacier Trail

In 1926, one giant ice mass broke apart to create the Salamander and Grinnell glaciers, which have been shrinking ever since. The 5½-mile trail to Grinnell Glacier, the park's most accessible, is marked by several spectacular viewpoints. You start at Swiftcurrent Lake's picnic area, climb a moraine to Lake Josephine, then climb to the Grinnell Glacier overlook. Halfway up, turn around to see the prairie land to the northeast. You can cut about 2 miles (each way) off the hike by taking scenic boat rides across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. From July to mid-September, a ranger-led hike departs from the Many Glacier Hotel boat dock on most mornings at 8:30. Difficult.
Swift Current Lake picnic area, Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Hidden Lake Nature Trail

Hidden Lake Overlook is an easy, 1½-mile hike from the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Along the way, you'll pass through beautiful alpine meadows known as the Hanging Gardens. Enjoy incredible views of Hidden Lake, Bearhat Mountain, Mt. Cannon, Fusillade Mountain, Gunsight Mountain, and Sperry Glacier. It's common to see mountain goats near the overlook. If you want a challenge, continue hiking all the way down to the edge of the lake—a moderate 5.4-mile round-trip hike. Easy to moderate.

Logan Pass Visitor Center, Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Iceberg Lake Trail

This moderately strenuous, 9-mile, round-trip hike passes the gushing Ptarmigan Falls, then climbs to its namesake, where icebergs bob in the chilly mountain loch. Mountain goats hang out on sheer cliffs above, bighorn sheep graze in the high mountain meadows, and grizzly bears dig for glacier lily bulbs, grubs, and other delicacies. Rangers lead hikes here almost daily in summer, leaving at 8:30 am. Moderate.

Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Many Glacier Road

This 12-mile drive enters Glacier on the northeast side of the park, west of Babb, and travels along Sherburne Lake for almost 5 miles, penetrating a glacially carved valley surrounded by mountains. It passes through meadows and a scrubby forest of lodgepole pines, aspen, and cottonwood. The farther you travel up the valley, the more clearly you'll be able to see Grinnell and Salamander glaciers. The road, which passes Many Glacier Hotel and ends at the Swiftcurrent Campground, is usually closed from October to May. The road has many potholes and can be extremely rough in places.

Montana Vortex and House of Mystery

You've found the power center of Montana at this wacky roadside attraction, where the laws of physics don't apply, and mystifying phenomena prevail.

7800 U.S. Hwy. 2 E, Columbia Falls, MT, 59912, USA
406-892–1210
Sight Details
Rate Includes: $12, Apr.–Sept., daily 10–6

Museum of the Plains Indian

The impressive collection of Blackfeet artifacts at this museum includes clothing, saddlebags, and artwork.

Polebridge

On the banks of the North Fork of the Flathead River on Glacier National Park's western edge, this tiny community (population 25) has just one store, one restaurant and saloon, one camp store, and one hostel, yet it is a gem in the wilderness. You can see where a massive wildfire burned up to some of the buildings in 1988 and how quickly new growth has advanced. The entrance station, staffed in summer only, is the gateway to Bowman and Kintla lakes, as well as Logging and Quartz lakes, which are in the backcountry and accessible only by hiking trails. The bakery at the Polebridge Mercantile store is amazing, with huckleberry macaroons or bear claws and hot, gooey cinnamon buns.

Rising Sun

In a cottonwood grove adjacent to St. Mary Lake, this area has tables, restrooms, and drinking water in summer.

Rocky Point Nature Trail

Enjoy fantastic mountain and lake views on this family-friendly, 1.9-mile trail along the western shore of Lake McDonald. Easy.
Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Running Eagle Falls (Trick Falls)

Cascading near Two Medicine, these are actually two different waterfalls from two different sources. In spring, when the water level is high, the upper falls join the lower falls for a 40-foot drop into Two Medicine River; in summer, the upper falls dry up, revealing the lower 20-foot falls that start midway down the precipice.

Sprague Creek

This picnic site on Lake McDonald's eastern shore has tables, restrooms, and drinking water in summer.

Stumptown Historical Society & Whitefish Museum

Railroad history, local gags like a fur-covered trout, and fine black-and-white photo displays complete this eclectic collection housed track-side at the Amtrak station in the Whitefish Railroad Depot. While browsing in the gift shop, ask for a free historical walking-tour map of "Stumptown," Whitefish's nickname. Call to confirm hours before stopping by.

500 Depot St., Whitefish, MT, 59937, USA
406-862–0067
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Donation suggested, Summer, Mon.–Sat. 10–4; winter, Mon.–Sat. 11–3

Sun Point Nature Trail

A stunning waterfall awaits at the end of this well-groomed, 1.3-mile trail along the cliffs and shores of picturesque St. Mary Lake. You can hike one-way and take a boat transfer back. Easy.

Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Swiftcurrent Lake

The Many Glacier Hotel is perched on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake. The views here are some of the park's prettiest, taking in the mountains that rise more than 3,000 feet immediately west of the lake. Scenic boat tours ply the waters and transport hikers to trails that lead to other lakes and glaciers in the park's Many Glacier region.

Trail of the Cedars

This ½-mile boardwalk loop through an ancient cedar and hemlock forest is a favorite of families with small children and people with disabilities (it's wheelchair accessible). Interpretive signs describe the habitat and natural history. Easy.

Trail of Cedars, Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Travel Alberta West Glacier Information Center

Plan your visit to the Canadian side of the International Peace Park with the help of travel experts at this visitor center in West Glacier. You'll find maps, pamphlets, displays, and bathroom facilities here.
125 Going-to-the-Sun Rd., West Glacier, MT, 59936, USA
406-888–5743
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mid-Sept.–mid-May

West Glacier Village to East Glacier Park Village (US-2 E)

A paved, 57-mile, two-lane highway follows the middle fork of the Flathead River and connects West Glacier with East Glacier. Enjoy lovely mountain views, stop at Goat Lick to look for mountain goats, or consider having lunch at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex.