When visiting Kalispell, you’ll definitely want to explore Glacier National Park. From downtown, it’s a beautiful 45-minute scenic drive to the Park with plenty of tempting stops along the way — family attractions, out-of the-way eateries, wildlife viewing areas and amazing vistas. Once in the Park, you can easily take in popular activities like the hike to Avalanche Lake, a paddle across Lake McDonald or a Red Bus Tour to Logan Pass and beyond — and get back to town in plenty of time for a nice dinner or splashing in the hotel pool.
View Summer Visitor Guide
Winter Activities — Winter in the park is beautiful, imagine yourself cross country skiing or snowshoeing on the Going To The Sun road (closed to vehicle traffic) feeling like you have a national park all to yourself. Several ski trails are recommended. Visit Glacier National Park
Red Bus Tours — Take a historic red bus tour over historic Going to the Sun Road and see historically breathtaking natural wonders. The best part? You’re not driving so you can keep your eyes on the scenery rather than the road.
Naturalist Tours — See the Park through the eyes of a ranger or naturalist. Tours are available through the Park and private outfitters.
St. Mary’s Lake Cruise — Climb aboard a beautiful wood motorboat and tour scenic St. Mary’s Lake. If you’ve only seen it in photos, you haven’t seen it.
The Logan Pass Visitor Center — This recently renovated center at the top of Logan Pass marks the high point of Going to the Sun Road. The bookstore is filled with great reads on the Park and there’s several boardwalk trails near by. Also a sure bet for mountain goat viewing.
Lunch on the Deck at Lake McDonald Lodge — Great food and an even better view. The perfect place to reflect on your time in the Park or get fueled up for your next hike.
Whitewater Float on the Middle Fork — The Middle Fork makes up the southern boundary of the Park. And it’s a the perfect mix of deep emerald slicks and tumbling rapids. We suggest a guide. They’re easy to book in advance or just pick one in the West Glacier area.
Cinnamon Roll at Polebridge — No kidding. It’s a bit of a rough drive up to Polebridge, but the general store’s bakery is worth it. So is the scenery. From here you can access Bowman and Kintla lakes by car, where the fjord like views will leave you awestruck.
Uncover the sights, sounds, experiences and authentic character of our one-of-a-kind region by visiting the Crown of the Continent Geotourism website. Find great local places to eat, unique events to attend and learn how to engage in local topics and communities. You can pick up your FREE Geotourism MapGuide at the Kalispell Visitor Information Center.
Your itinerary will dictate much of what you need for a day-venture in Glacier. Still, there are a few musts. For clothing, dress in layers and be sure to have a rain jacket handy. The weather can change quickly in the mountains and can vary from one elevation to the next. We like good, all around trail shoes or boots. During mid summer, we suggest having bug spray handy. For gear, we carry a camera, binoculars, daypack, water bottle, trail map and identification guides for plants and animals.
Every season in the Park has it’s own glory. Summer is the high season. From late June through early September most everything in the Park is open, including the restaurants, attractions, activities and Going to the Sun Road. Temperatures vary but a typical Park day is between 75˚ and 80˚ F and there’s plenty of sun.
Fall is a time of transition for Glacier, but it is spectacular. The tamaracks turn gold in late September/early October. Wildlife is active and generally easier to as the leaves fall. High temperatures start off in the 70s but by mid to late October are more likely to be in the 40s and 50s. As for what’s open that changes, too. In most years, everything is open through early to mid October, however, a big snow can close the road.
Winter is pure solitude in the Park. There are no snowmobiles allowed in Glacier, no snow coaches either. The only way to get around is by cross-country ski and snowshoe. It can be truly magical under a falling snow or making fresh tracks along McDonald Creek.
Spring is another transitional time in Glacier, a time when much of its power is on display. In the spring, the snow melts and the rivers swell, making it a great time for whitewater enthusiasts. It’s also a fantastic time to see wildlife with newborn elk, deer and bears wandering the lower elevations.
If you have your own vehicle, just drive north and east on Highway 2 toward West Glacier to the west entrance to the park. During peak season, tours are also available from Kalispell. We recommend inquiring about these at your hotel or at a local visitor center. Drive time is about 45 minutes.
General Info: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/things2know.htm
Park Entrance Fees: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/entrance-fees.htm
Park Events: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/events.htm
Guided Day Hikes: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/guided-hiking-trips.htm
Red Bus Tours: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/bus-tours.htm