Tucked away in the heart of Glacier National Park’s Glacier County, Atsina Falls is a beautiful water feature that is only accessible through a selection of rigorous multiday hiking trails.
However, thanks to its remote location, the falls are heavily under traveled when compared to the park’s other attractions and remain one of the most preserved natural areas in Glacier National Park.
Atsina Falls, Glacier County Stats
- Elevation: 5364 ft
- Longitude: -113.85075
- How to Get There: The Atsina Falls Overlook from Stoney Indian Pass can be reached via several hiking routes starting from either the Chief Mountain Customs Trailhead or the Goat Haunt Shelter.
Located towards the center of Glacier National Park, Atsina Falls is miles away from any road and is inaccessible via land transport. Instead, the preserved falls can only be reached on foot along the many hiking trails that weave through the park.
Atsina Falls can only be observed by the Stoney Indian Pass. However, visitors can reach this remote destination through several different trails. The easiest way to access the path is through Chief Mountain Customs Trailhead or from the Goat Haunt Shelter trailhead at the foot of Waterton Lake.
After reaching the falls, visitors can choose to head back to the trailhead or continue their hike on a selection of trails that span the many different regions of the park.
Situated away from the more trafficked areas of the park, Atsina Falls offers a tranquil space to fish, with only the soft, soothing sounds of falling water to disrupt the otherwise quiet ambiance.
If the fish near the falls aren’t biting, follow the Mokowanis River east to Atsina Lake. While the fishing isn’t as great as in some of the more popular destinations in the park, Atsina Lake offers a relaxing experience tucked away in Glacier County’s preserved corners.
Two backcountry campgrounds are located at either end of the Stoney Indian Pass that leads to the falls.
Both sites are fantastic spots for camping, depending on which trailhead you have entered the park. If arriving from the Chief Mountain Customs Trailhead, visitors will likely want to rest at the Mokowanis Junction Campground.
On the other hand, those arriving from the Bertha Trailhead in Waterton Park will likely want to stay the night at Stoney Indian Lake Campground before continuing their hike to the falls in the morning.
Backcountry camping permits are required in Glacier National Park. Visitors should apply for their sites before visiting.
Starting from the Goat Haunt Shelter at the foot of the Waterton River, this 26.8-mile out & back hike is best accessed via boat from Waterton Park but can be reached on foot along the Waterton Lake Trail.
From the foot of the river, the trail leads visitors through Waterton Valley, past Kootenai Lake, and continues until the river branches off into Pass Creek. Here, hikers will branch from the valley path and head southeast along the Stoney Indian Pass.
Cutting between the Stoney Indian Peaks and the Wahcheechee Mountain, hikers will continue on the path for another couple of miles before arriving at the Stoney Indian Lake Campground.
Only 3.2 miles from the falls, the Stoney Indian Lake Campground offers a perfect location to camp the night. Wake up early the next morning to enjoy the whole day at Atsina Falls, Montana.
From the falls, visitors can decide whether to head back to Waterton River or continue their journey along the Stoney Indian Pass and into the park’s other geographical regions.
From the Chief Mountain Customs Trailhead, hikers follow the Belly River Trail for 6 miles until they come to the Belly River Ranger Station. At this point, the path branches in four directions.
Hikers headed to Lake Atsina will want to take the path leading to the northwest, labeled the Cosley Lake Cutoff.
Continuing for another four miles, the path culminates at the Cosley Lake Campground, at which point the trail becomes the Stoney Indian Pass. Following the trail for another few miles will lead hikers to the Mokowanis Junction Campground, where it is advised they spend the night before continuing.
From the campground, the falls are only another 6.7 miles, at which point visitors can decide whether to head back to the trailhead at Chief Mountain Customs or continue exploring the other wonders of Glacier National Park.