Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park (+What To Expect)

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: February 2nd, 2024

Glacier National Park is a stunning wilderness area located in Montana’s Rocky Mountains.

The glacier-carved peaks and low valleys of this park have made it a popular tourist attraction – and for good reason!

Hiking, scenic drives, snowshoeing, observing wildlife, kayaking; the fun that you can have while visiting the park is endless.

If you are considering paying Glacier National Park a visit, then you’re going to want to know what the best time to visit it is. That’s where I come in.

In this article, I’ll be going over what to expect at Glacier National Park (depending on the season), as well as giving you my top tips for picking the best time to visit.

I will cover crucial information such as the busiest times of the year, which season is the least costly, and what weather you can expect to see during each season.

Let’s go ahead and jump right into it!

What to expect in each season in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is absolutely stunning year-round, but there are specific things to look out for depending on the season. From wildlife to amenities, a change in season brings about a huge change at the park.

Rainfall, snowfall, the number of visitors, accommodation availability, and costs; there are many factors to take into account in terms of the ways that things at the park change along with the seasons.

Depending on the season, you will have quite different experiences when visiting Glacier National Park.

In order to prepare you for your visit, I will take you through what to expect at Glacier National Park during each season.!

Summer: June – August

glacier national park bike tour

If you’re looking for an action-packed trip, then summer at Glacier National Park is likely going to be a good fit for you.

There is a wide range of activities available at the park during the summer, and you can enjoy some hiking along the many trails in the area.

You can also participate in some white-water rafting, kayaking, and scenic drives during the summer months.

Even simply wandering around the park tends to be much better during the summer as the park is at its peak in terms of nature, wildlife, and picturesque views.

Temperatures stay around the high 70s in summer, so be sure to wear sun protection!

The average snowfall during the summer season is a whopping 0 cm, so those wanting a warm getaway are in luck.

Rainfall at the park is daily average during the summer months, with around 80 – 90 mm of rain typically falling on the park per month.

Keep in mind that there will be a fair amount of people at Glacier National Park during the summer, as this is the most popular tourist season with around three million people visiting the park every summer.

Pros  Cons
Many activities available Extremely busy
Gorgeous wildlife and scenery High risk of running into a grizzly or black bear
All hiking trails are thawed and open Hotter temperatures
Nature is in full bloom More expensive

Fall: September – November

glacier national park

If you’re looking to avoid a majority of the crowds, then spring is the best time to visit Glacier National Park.

This is the perfect middle ground where many hiking trails will still be open, but the park is not going to be packed full of people!

While the temperatures can be a little unpredictable, you can generally expect the good summer weather to extend well into September at the park.

October and November can sometimes bring a few snowstorms, but these months also bring stunning views as the trees change color.

If you are wanting warmer weather, it is best to try visiting during September, when the average snowfall is around 1 cm.

That being said, this is also typically the rainiest month at the park, with around 100 mm of rainfall.

By November, snowfall generally increases to around 160 cm, and rainfall drops to around 30 mm – making for an entirely different experience at the park.

Chances are you will have some encounters with the park’s wildlife during the fall, such as bears, elk, and wolves.

These critters will be hard at work fattening up for the winter months, making it a great time to observe the native wildlife at the park.

Pros Cons
Less crowded Snowstorms may close hiking trails
Wildlife will be out and about Gets chilly later in the day
Stunning scenery as the leaves change Weather forecast becomes more unpredictable
Vehicle reservations not required after mid-September Some water activities and roads may be closed

Winter: December – February

glacier national park skiing


Looking to save some money during your visit to Glacier National Park? The winter season is really going to help you cut down on costs!

Most lodging and accommodation in the area becomes cheaper and seven-day passes to the park drop from $35 to $25.

I will be completely honest with you: it’s going to be cold.

Temperatures will often be freezing during the day and well below freezing during the night. Avalanches and snowstorms are common, and many areas of the park will be shut down for the season.

At Rogers Pass, in the center of the park, you can expect up to 200 cm of snowfall during the winter months.

That being said, if you are a winter lover, then you are going to thrive during this season.

The park turns into a stunning winter wonderland that you can walk through and explore.

If you are an experienced skier, you can also hit the mountains, and snowshoeing tours are available for all experience levels whether you are an absolute beginner or a pro.

There is very little rain at Glacier National Park during the winter months, with only 4 – 8 mm hitting the area per month.

So, while it will be a cold visit, it will also be quite dry! If you enjoy some snow and cold, then there is a certain beauty to a winter visit to Glacier National Park.

Pros  Cons 
Less costly Many areas of the park are closed
Gorgeous winter landscapes Limited amenities
Virtually no crowds Many animals hibernating
Skiing and snowshoeing Below freezing temperatures

Spring: March – May

Iceberg Lake Trial in Montana
iceberg lake, Glacier national park, montana

During spring, Glacier National Park can often still be found under a layer of snow. While the park does not completely thaw out until around July, spring is still a wonderful season to pay a visit to the park.

While March often can bring around 100 cm of snowfall, by May this drops to around 6 cm.

Many hiking trails around the edges of the park will have reopened in spring, and most roads will be completely reopened by May.

While the park will not be as deserted as it is during winter, you are still far less likely to have to deal with bustling crowds during the spring.

Expect around 20 – 60 mm of rainfall at the park during the spring months. This is far from the park’s rainiest season but is significantly wetter than winter, so this is something to keep in mind.

You are more likely to find accommodation in the area during the spring, and camping is also available year-round.

Take advantage of the quiet park to explore the area and observe the emerging flowers and wildlife!

Pros Cons
Hiking trails begin to reopen Many areas unavailable
Wildlife begins to emerge Higher elevation trails still under snow cover
Less crowded Some roads closed
Stunning scenery Some amenities still suspended

How to choose the best time to visit?

So, how exactly do you choose the best time to visit Glacier National Park?

It all comes down to your personal preferences. Each season brings new experiences and benefits to the park that you may find yourself drawn to.

If you want to visit during a less crowded season, then winter, spring, and fall are definitely preferable over summer.

However, if you are looking to get the full experience of Glacier National Park and not risk any areas being closed down, then summer is your best bet!

If hiking and relaxing by the water are your preference, then summer is the best season for that.

When you want to save a bit of money, winter at Glacier National Park often means a decrease in the cost of week-long passes and accommodation.

At the end of the day, I believe that summer is the most popular season at Glacier National Park for a very good reason: You don’t have to worry about any attractions being closed or any amenities being unavailable during the hottest season!

If you can deal with dense crowds and warmer weather, then summer is definitely the best season to visit Glacier National Park.

Not only is the scenery at its best, but you will also be able to see a whole lot of native wildlife and participate in all of the activities that the park has to offer.

No road closures, snowstorms, and suspended amenities; it is clear why summer is most people’s go-to season to visit the park.

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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