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Ipasha Falls, Glacier County

Ipasha Falls is a stunning, rushing waterfall in the extremely remote backcountry terrain within Glacier National Park. The waterfall is only accessible by a multi-day hike along unmaintained trails to Ipasha Lake and it is definitely not an option for folks with small children or moderate to low conditioning.

The waterfall is located near Ipasha Lake, which is only accessible by crossing trails leading to Mokowanis Lake and then Ipasha Lake.

The waterfall, however, is well worth the hike if you’ve got the stamina, endurance, and time to hike out and back. The falls are recorded as having a drop of at least 800 feet.

Ipasha Falls, Glacier County

Prepare yourself for a long journey, rugged camping, and truly “wild” adventures as you make your way through the most remote backcountry region of Glacier National Park with Ipasha Falls as your reward.

ipasha falls stats

Ipasha Falls Stats

This beautiful, huge, backcountry waterfall is tucked away into the way, way backcountry portion of Glacier National Park. Prepare yourself for incredible views all along the way, and be sure those hiking boots are up to the task!

  • Location: Backcountry, Glacier National Park, Glacier County, Montana
  • Latitude: 48.8482908
  • Longitude: -113.8069641
  • Stream: Pyramid Creek
  • Height: 800+ feet
  • Season: Late spring to autumn
  • Campgrounds and RV parks nearby: 20+ campgrounds located within the park or nearby, with hundreds of sites available
  • Backcountry camping: Required for Ipasha Falls hike

Recreational Activities Near Ipasha Falls

recreational activities near ipasha falls

If you’re wondering about things to do at Ipasha Falls, you’ll be delighted to learn there’s a plethora of options both within Glacier National Park and outside the park.

Swimming

swimming

Can you swim in Ipasha Falls? Yes, technically, you may swim in Ipasha Falls. However, it is not recommended to swim in waterfalls because of the intense undercurrent created by the rushing waters.

Instead, it’s better to swim in Ipasha Lake, Margaret Lake, or other similar locations throughout the park that don’t have such a strong and dangerous undercurrent.

Boating

boating

Boating is an option all throughout Glacier National Park, on lakes, streams, and rivers. Ipasha Lake is boatable, but you’d have to haul the boat in on your back, so most folks opt to skip that activity here.

However, Kintla Lake, Lake Josephine, and many others within the park are not only popular boating sites but have rentals nearby, as well, for folks coming into the area from a distance.

White Water Rafting

white water rafting

If hiking out to Ipasha isn’t enough adventure for you, you can always participate in a whitewater rafting trip. There are many companies that offer day trips, one-day, half-day, and multi-day trips.

Some of the outfitter companies have add-ons like snacks, dining, and lodging provided by a single package, so be sure to check which options would be best for you.

Birdwatching and Wildlife Viewing

birdwatching

Birding and wildlife viewing are popular activities throughout Glacier. You’ll find many winged and four-footed creatures along the hiking trail to Ipasha Falls and surrounding regions, including many of the following:

  • Elk
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Ospreys
  • Beavers
  • Wolverines
  • Marmots
  • Pikas
  • Harlequin ducks
  • Common loons
  • Mountain goats
  • Clark’s nutcrackers
  • Moose
  • Bald eagles
  • Mountain lions
  • Black bears
  • Ptarmigans
  • Bats
  • Coyotes
  • Lynx
  • American dippers
  • Swifts
  • Grizzly bears
  • Northern hawk owls

american pika

Scenic Drives

If you’ve still got time after your hike in and out of Ipasha Falls and want to enjoy the other glorious views within the park’s boundaries, consider taking a scenic drive throughout the park, or book a Red Bus tour.

The tours are very popular, though, so plan ahead to be there on schedule to snag a seat or two.

Photography

Because of the stunning views, incredible wildlife, and beautiful resting areas throughout the park, photography is one of the most popular activities in Glacier National Park. And all along your route to Ipasha Falls, you’ll find this to be utterly true.

You’ll tread your way through hushed open spaces where birds and wildlife roam, past bubbling creeks and singing streams, along pools and lakes, and more, all begging for a snapshot.

Fishing

Fishing is permitted in Ipasha Lake near the falls, as well as throughout Glacier NP on rivers, streams, and other lakes. Be sure to have an up-to-date fishing license for Montana, though, before you plunge in!

If you want to fish elsewhere in the park, there are guides for hire through Glacier Guides or Get Your Guide, and you’ll otherwise find some of the best fishing in

  • Logging Creek
  • Yaak River
  • Flathead Lake
  • Mary Lake
  • Trout Lake
  • Stillwater River
  • Flathead River

Cycling

Many of the hiking trails double as off-road biking trails throughout the park. Trails leading to Ipasha Falls, however, are generally too challenging for cycling.

Other trails range from smooth, easy paths, to challenging, rugged dirt paths.

Trail Running

Most of the trails leading to Ipasha Falls are going to be challenging for trail running. However, many other trails in the park are suitable for this athletic endeavor.

Check Great Runs and All Trails for suggestions on the best trails in the park.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

Horseback riding through Glacier can provide some of the most glorious views in the most unique ways. And thanks to Swan Mountain Outfitters, you have three different stables to choose from for your starting point: Many Glacier, Apgar, and Lake McDonald.

The company offers many trail ride options:

  • Lodgepole Loop – 1 hour – $60.00
  • Ride & Dine – 1 hour + dinner – $80.00
  • Glacier Gateway – 2 hours – $90.00
  • Cowboy Cookout – 2 hours + dinner – $165.00
  • Glacier Lookout – 3 hours – $115.00
  • Mountain View – all day – $225.00
  • Private West Glacier Trail Rides – varies – inquire about pricing

Camping

camping

Camping is required on your way to Ipasha Falls. The camping, however, is backcountry and not for those requiring full amenities like bathrooms and campfire rings. Instead, you’ll find backcountry campsites marked along the way, with some “open” backcountry camping options in undesignated sites.

Ipasha is one of the most remote locations within the park, so be prepared to protect food from bears, bring bear spray, and other cautionary measures.

Additionally, throughout the park, there are hundreds of designated campsites, including some RV sites, tent-only sites, and other backcountry campsites.

Many of the campgrounds are first-come, first-serve, so arrive early! For those with reservations, book early to ensure you’ve got a spot when you arrive.

Hotels and Cabin Rentals

Because of the immense popularity of Glacier NP, you’ll find plenty of lodging in and near the park. Some of the highest-rated hotels include Many Glacier Hotel within the park’s boundaries, along with nearby accommodations:

Cabins may be booked within the park at the Glacier resorts or booked nearby outside the park.

Book through the following sites:

Museums and Educational Programs

And speaking of nearby attractions, there are many educational programs and museums near Glacier National Park. Some are great for the kids, some more accommodating for adults, and all interesting and educational.

Within the park, you’ll find several ranger-led presentations and hikes/walks that offer expert, first-hand knowledge of the region, wildlife, and more. Programs are booked on a first-come, first-serve basis, though, so be sure to check the schedule to learn the times available, and arrive early.

There are three visitors’ centers in the park, where you can find maps, information, guides, programming, and more, including gift shops, and resting areas. And for a more hands-on experience, check out the Apgar Nature Center, which is open from mid-June to late August.

Near the park, you’ll find several museums to visit, including:

Trail Routes

There are some rough, unmaintained trails that will get you to Ipasha Falls, according to first-hand hiker accounts.

According to the World Waterfall Database, the falls are accessed only by a multi-day hike on established trails, followed by a significant hike on a bushwhack trail from Mokowanis Lake.

For more details and first-hand accounts on the hike to Ipasha, check out this blog post from Glacier Explorer.

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

If you look at the topographical map of the location of the waterfall, you’ll notice that the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a trail that nears this remote water feature of the Glacier National Park.

The trail may be accessed from multiple locations along the 3,000-mile trail that reaches the border of New Mexico and Mexico and Montana and Canada.

Within Glacier National Park, you may access the trail from Cut Bank Campground or Two Medicine Campground trailhead along Two Medicine Lake.

Once you’re on the Continental Divide Trail, you’ll need to study your topographical map to find the correct direction to head towards Ipasha Falls, since entry points run both north and south.

  • Distance: 19 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Unknown
  • Difficulty level: Challenging
  • Trail type: Out and back
  • Notes: This trail is only a portion of the way to Ipasha Falls

Waterton Valley Trail to Stoney Indian Pass, Stoney Indian Lake, Atsina Lake, and Mokowanis Lake

The more common route is the Waterton Valley Trail. This trail leads to Stoney Indian Pass, Atsina Lake, Mokowanis Lake, and Stoney Indian Lake, along with granting access to the unofficial trail that leads to Ipasha Falls.

Because of the nature of this hike, you’ll need to be heavily prepared for it, with food, water, extra clothing, full camping gear, water sterilization and purification, and emergency equipment.

You should also never hike this sort of trail alone and you should be sure to have a GPS locator on and available to friends or family who could contact authorities in case of emergency on your behalf.

The trail itself is 26.8 miles, with an undesignated additional distance to Ipasha Falls. A trail is an out-and-back option that’s considered challenging by seasoned hikers and takes most folks 13 and a half hours to complete.

The trail is quiet and generally provides you with solitude, but many hikers, birders, and campers do enjoy the trail.

The trail is best visited between May and September.

  • Distance: 26.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 5,472 ft
  • Difficulty level: Challenging
  • Trail type: Out and back
  • Notes: This trail is only a portion of the way to Ipasha Falls

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