Sitting within the spectacular and immense Glacier National Park, Deadwood Falls is just one of many exceptional activities within the park’s bounds. And while the trip towards the falls is all downhill, the clearing that approaches the falls illuminates crystal clear water and stunning sights.
Named for its numerous burnt trees along the path, Deadwood Falls is certainly a shift in atmosphere from West Glacier National Park.
Surrounded by its own variety of wildflowers and greenery – hollyhock, bear grass, self-heal, and more – this unique landscape offers a lot by way of scenery.
Originally home to the indigenous Blackfeet tribe, it’s been reestablished as land on Glacier National Park while the Blackfeet have now been pushed further east.
Truth be told, the hike out to gorgeous Deadwood Falls is a relatively short one – only three and a half miles from the St. Marys parking lot, or even less coming from the Jackson Glacier Overlook – but it does have its share of strenuous moments.
Heading out of the falls area, we recommend continuing further upstream to view a serpentine channel – see: snakelike water path – created by the rocks. This is the spot we’d recommend settling down for a picnic, although you’ll definitely want to pack your bug spray (Trust us – you’ll need it!).
The steep jaunt down towards the falls can be trying on the knees, particularly when utilizing the overlook option that drops you close to 650 feet in elevation. Likewise, you may find yourself out of breath as you climb back up after your visit, at which point we recommend checking out the nearby suspension bridge for some great photos.
Regardless, this hour and a half-long hike to the falls are worth the jaunt! If you’re not camping overnight, don’t forget to travel back through the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a scenic mountain pathway that’ll mesmerize you in every direction.
It’s true – there are numerous things to do at and around Deadwood Falls, but even more importantly, this undiscovered gem is the perfect spot to recharge in nature, away from the responsibilities of daily life.
Deadwood Falls, Glacier County
Read on for more stats, as well as some of our favorite things to do in the area, from hiking to fishing to swimming to camping in your tent or hotel lodging. (And we’ll even share our favorite nearest campsite so you can fully relax into your Glacier experience!) Let’s get into it!
Deadwood Falls, Glacier County Stats
- Size and Scope: 2.9 miles out and back; 650 ft elevation gain
- Season: Year Round
- Hours: 24/7
- Number of Campsites: None
- Wheelchair Accessible: No
One of the best things about Deadwood Falls? Easy – its close proximity to countless hiking trails, lakes, fishing spots, and – of course – camping sites. No matter where you place your hiking stick, you’ll find natural beauty at every turn around here.
While we love the hike to Deadwood Falls, the sacred and indigenous St. Mary’s Lake offers picturesque sunset hikes or picnics, and don’t even get us started on the numerous camping sites, cabins, and inns in Glacier!
Hiking & Biking
There are numerous hiking and biking options at Glacier National Park, but sticking to the Deadwood Falls region, we especially love the trailhead down to St. Mary Falls and the Sun Point Nature Trail that starts at Sunrift Gorge Pullout.
Into biking? Be aware that a small fee will be charged when entering Glacier with your own bicycle, with lower rates during the winter months.
And while bicyclists aren’t allowed on hiking trails or backcountry areas, they are allowed on paved and unpaved roads, as well as multi-use bike paths. (We do recommend taking a bike tour with a seasoned professional if that’s more your style!)
In terms of accessibility, the folks at Glacier National Park readily admit that they have some work to do on their hiking trails, but highly recommend that friends with accessibility needs take the gorgeous Going-to-the-Sun Road which offers diverse landscapes and phenomenal views from the safety of your car.
Swimming & Fishing
Can you swim at Deadwood Falls? Yes, absolutely! But take it from a pro or two: you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the Wim Hof method or say a little prayer before jumping in because it’s incredibly cold.
Is it worth it? Of course – and it’s available for everyone, not just the adrenaline junkies!
Also, check out the expansive St. Mary Lake and St. Mary Falls for a refreshing dip, or head further west into Snyder Lake, which has its own dock for diving, splashing, and annoying your siblings (Tell ‘em we sent you!).
Moving on to fishing, one of our favorite spots to relax is Otokomi Lake a bit north of Deadwood Falls. And a fun pro tip from some Montana lovers: “Otokomi” translates to “yellow fish” in the Blackfeet language, so expect plenty of fish!
We also recommend the smaller John’s Lake for a little morning meditation, dip, and the opportunity to catch your dinner. Main takeaway? This water is vibrant, cold, and worth every wince.
Camping & Lodging
Yes, there are plenty of places to put stakes in the ground at Glacier National Park, but you don’t necessarily have to immerse yourself in your natural surroundings. How about a cabin rental or one of the nearby hotels or lodges?
Most of the nearby campgrounds are first-come, first-serve, but the closest is Reynolds Creek Campground just a bit southeast of the falls. It’s also less than 1.5 miles from the magnificent Going-to-the-Sun Road, granting easy access to other campgrounds in the Glacier area.
Like its surrounding sites, Reynolds Creek features a bear pole – bring bear and bug spray! – a campfire area, and a pit toilet.
In other words: this is some pretty primitive camping, but we believe it’s worth the trek. If you hike along the nearby St. Mary Falls Trail, you’ll also hit Rising Sun Campground which offers one accessible campsite, in walking distance of the historical Roes Creek Campground.
Head further north and you’ll hit the gorgeous aforementioned Otokomi Lake and its associated campground.
Heading east out of Glacier for a good night’s rest? Check out the beautiful gateway to Glacier, St. Mary, for numerous cabin options, our favorites being The Cottages and Duck Lake Cabin, also home to the Duck Lake Campground.
We also recommend the Many Glacier Hotel above Deadwood Falls – just don’t expect a luxurious stay.
You’ll receive modest amenities and the opportunity to relax in nature the same way as our country’s pioneering minds. Or, check out the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn & Cabins a bit to the west. (Know that cooking is not allowed in or around the motel’s rooms or cabins, but Swiftcurrent does offer a restaurant!)
And we’re just scratching the surface of accommodations around Deadwood Falls – enjoy your stay!
Length: 14.9 miles One of the most stunning hikes we’ve ever experienced! Yes, 15 miles is a lot, but there are beautiful sights wherever you turn on the Highline Trail.
We highly recommend starting a bit earlier in the day to beat the heat and foot traffic, but the great thing about this hike is that you can jump into it at different points. Looking for something a bit easier?
Start at Logan Pass for a great 3-mile hike – just a bit more sustainable for the knees! – that’ll provide excellent sunset photography to go along with your packed beers.
But the truth is: the Highline Trail is surprisingly adaptable for all of its climbers, even going the whole route. Strenuous but doable. Don’t forget to pack snacks, electrolytes, and water for this once-in-a-lifetime hike!
Length: 1.7 miles Okay, we know we threw a big one at you, so let’s ease up the brakes with the Sun Point Nature Trail.
Sun Point isn’t as populated as St. Mary, Highline, or other trails, so you can expect a bit more solitude on your nature excursion.
However, if you’d like to hop along to the next level, Sun Point gets you over to St. Mary Falls trail for an even more spectacular view along St. Mary’s Lake to the misty Virginia Falls.
Either way, you’ll find plenty of smiling wildflowers and maybe a deer or two along this family-friendly hike.
Length: 10.4 miles Yep, this is the same Otokomi Lake named for its plentiful fish, but the hike to get to it is a bit of a trek.
With a steady uphill climb the entire trajectory, we recommend bringing a packed lunch and eating it at the top as a reward for your strenuous exercise.
Hikers seem to either love this hike and its numerous waterfalls or find it to be a mediocre experience, but personally, we love this hike and think it’s well worth a trip to the lake.
Length: 9.7 miles Last but not least, this well-maintained trail is a favorite of Glacier Park rangers and experienced hikers.
It may not have a lot of sun coverage at some points (stay hydrated!), but the sheer beauty and diversity of the trails make up for this one discretion in spades. Pay attention, because you may find yourself hiking alongside bighorn sheep making their own way through the zig-zags!
Grizzly bear tracks are common here too, so keep that bear spray on you. But the best part is the refreshing glacier-fed creek on the way down Siyeh Pass – now that’s an amenity!
Beyond Deadwood Falls itself, this Siyeh Pass trail has been one of the best-kept secrets of this area of Glacier. Up until now, that is – because we’re sharing the wealth. Enjoy Glacier!