The Best Things To Do In Glacier National Park

Will Beck
Last Updated: March 4th, 2023

5 Best Tours In Glacier National Park

1. Full-Day Whitewater Rafting Trip • Glacier National Park

As well as expertly guiding you through class II-III rapids, your licensed escort will teach you about the flora and fauna in the area, as well as provide a riverside barbecue lunch. Starting in the town of West Glacier, this white-water rafting trip is a perfect addition to a Glacier itinerary.

2. Moped Rental • West Glacier National Park

Tour West Glacier on your own with this 2-hour, half-day, or full-day moped rental. While you’ll be free to plan your own itinerary, staff are available to offer suggestions and advice about navigating the area.

3. Scenic Raft Trip • Glacier National Park

Between two and three hours long depending on the current during your visit, this is the perfect opportunity to see wildlife like eagles, dear, or maybe even a bear. This rafting trip down the pristine Flathead river is perfect for those interested in a peaceful, scenic outing, as opposed to the thrills of whitewater.

4. Half-Day Whitewater Rafting Trip • Glacier National Park

This eight-mile trip through class II and III rapids via the John F. Stevens Canyon travels down the Flathead River. The excursion begins with a four-mile stretch of calm waters to give you plenty of time to acclimate to the boat.

5. Whitewater Rafting with Dinner • Glacier National Park

This whitewater adventure also sets aside some time to go on a mini-tour of the town of West Glacier, have a swim in the pristine waters of the Flathead River, and enjoy a hearty, riverside barbecue dinner. This rafting tour combines a calm float with class II and III rapids.

5 Best Things To Do In Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is one of the most beautiful, and thus popular parks in the Nation. Established in 1910 by then-president Taft, it is over a million acres large and is visited by over 3 million people a year. 

When you’re planning your own visit, be sure to buy your entrance pass. There are a few different passes depending on your individual needs, but the most popular covers yourself, your vehicle, and up to 15 passengers for seven days and costs $35. Passes for motorcycles, people traveling on bikes or on foot, and annual passes are also available, all of which are available online.

Once you’ve purchased your entrance pass, you’re ready to start planning the rest of your trip to Glacier National Park. Here are some ideas for the best things to do during your visit. 

1. Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

drive the going-to-the-sun road

An engineering marvel, the Going-to-the-Sun Road connects the east and west entrances of the park via one of the most scenic drives in the country. Along it you’ll find several of the major attractions of the park, and some of the most scenic views in all of Montana. You’ll need a ticket and a reservation to travel along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, but these can both be procured easily online

2. Red Bus Tours

red bus tours

With a fleet of 33 fully-restored vintage busses, Red Bus Tours offers in-depth coach tours of Glacier National Park. Each one only seats 17 people and they tend to sell out quickly, so if this is an experience you’re looking forward to on your trip to Glacier National Park, be sure to book well in advance.

There are two tours you can take with red Bus Tours. One departs from the west entrance of the park and visits Lake McDonald and other attractions. The other departs from the east entrance of the park and stops at Many Glacier, Two Medicine, and Lake Mary, as well as other sites.

3. Glacier Park Boat Company

glacier park boat company

Offering tours and excursions, the Glacier Park Boat Company has several historic boats on which you can schedule a tour of Many Glacier, Two Medicine, Lake McDonald, and Lake Mary. Many of the boats in their fleet were built by hand to exacting standards as far back as the 1920s. You can choose from either single tickets on a public tour, or charter an entire boat with a guide, depending on your needs.

4. Logan Pass

logan pass

The highest point in the park you can reach with a car is Logan Pass where the continental divide crosses the park from north to south. Here you’ll find the Logan Pass Visitor Center which can provide information about the area, as well as the Logan Pass parking lot, where you can park your vehicle before going on a hike. The immediate surroundings have some of the best activities in all of Glacier, and the elevation provides some truly impressive views. Because it’s along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a ticket and reservation are required in addition to your entrance pass.

5. Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine, and Grinnell Glacier

swiftcurrent lake

A bucket list item for people around the world, the hike to Grinnell Glacier is over ten miles each way, making it out of some folks’ reach. But you can shave nearly seven miles off the arduous hike by taking the ferry services that cross Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. Not only will you get to experience the magnificence of a boat ride in two of Glacier’s alpine lakes, but you’ll be able to comfortably reach Grinnell Glacier, which is the physical – and in some ways the spiritual – heart of Glacier National Park.

8 Free Things To Do In Glacier National Park

If you’d love to visit Glacier National Park, but the prices for boat tours, chartered coaches, and entry tickets seem too steep, you’ll be delighted to know that some of the best things to see and do within the park are absolutely free.

While the hiking trails, camp spots, and cultural centers in the park are maintained by revenue collected with the entrance fee – so they don’t charge fees individually – there are actually a handful of days when even the entrance fee is waived.

  • Martin Luther King Day
  • The First Day of National Park Week
  • The Great American Outdoors Act Signing Day
  • The National Park Service’s Birthday
  • National Public Lands Day
  • Veterans Day

There are certainly larger crowds on free days than others, but if you plan your trip around one of these holidays, you can see a ton without spending a dime.

If you’re not sure what attractions in the park don’t require additional fees, here are a few of the best to start your search.

1. Trail of the Cedars

trail of the cedars

One of the most inclusive trails in the nation, the Trail of Cedars is actually along a man-made cedar plank boardwalk that is wheelchair accessible, one of only two trails in the park that can make that claim. This one-mile loop trail passes a forest of western red cedars, some of which are older than the first European settlements in the Americas.

2. Avalanche Lake & Trail

avalanche lake & trail

Just beyond the Trail of the Cedars is the Avalanche Lake Trail. This will take you through gorges, past streams, and finally arriving at one of Glacier National Park’s most stunning features: Avalanche Lake. The lake is surrounded by steep cliffs, lush flora, and several waterfalls, making this nearly five-mile hike more than worth it.

3. Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

waterton-glacier international peace park

Some don’t know that Glacier National Park actually extends into Canada; their portion is called Waterton Lakes National Park and is overseen by the Canadian Government. Where the two parks meet at the border is a UNESCO recognized site called the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and was created to honor the friendship and commitment to preserving public lands that the United States and Canada share.

4. Lake McDonald

lake mcdonald

Almost 500 feet deep and ten miles long, Lake McDonald has a couple of extremely unique features. First, it is in an area that is less susceptible to heavy winds, meaning that on a clear day the lake can act as a mirror, offering reflections of the snow-capped mountains surrounding it. But be sure you get a look close-up as well because the lake floor is strewn with remarkably colored stones in shades of blue, red, and green.  

5. Hidden Lake

hidden lake

This isolated alpine lake can only be reached on foot by a somewhat difficult trail, hence the moniker Hidden Lake. Beginning from the Hidden Gardens Trailhead, this 5+ mile hike is worth the reward: expect dreamy mountain views and shockingly clear blue water.

6. Iceberg Lake Trail

iceberg lake trail

This moderately difficult hike near Siyeh Bend is long – nearly 10 miles each way – but there isn’t much technical hiking or elevation gain, making it accessible to more people. At the end of the hike, you’ll reach Iceberg Lake, an ultra-clear alpine lake with several small icebergs floating in its sapphire-hued waters.

7. Apgar Nature Center

apgar nature center

Nestled between the cedar trees of Agpar village, the volunteer-run Apgar Nature Center is open from June until August. With a combination of hands-on activities and educational exhibits, visitors can learn more about the history and geology of Glacier National Park.

8. Two Medicine

two medicine

While the name often refers to one of the lakes – both upper and lower – Two Medicine is actually an entire small region within southeastern Glacier National Park. Once the sacred ancestral lands of the Blackfeet, it is now one of the most visited regions of the entire park. Home to several lakes, mountains, and numerous hiking trails, you could easily spend the entire 7-day duration of your parks pass surveying Two Medicine alone.

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About The Author

Will Beck

Will is a true digital nomad, taking his work on the road at every opportunity. His first love is coffee, with travel a close 2nd. He loves nothing more than hitting the road in his self-build campervan and visiting off-the-beaten-path places, away from popular tourist destinations.

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