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Mokowanis Cascade, Glacier County

Splashing alongside the Mokowanis River in Glacier National Park, near the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (also known as the PNT), you’ll find the Mokowanis Cascade. The beautiful waterfall is a series of cascades and falls that dance down the waterway, near Atsina Lake, deep within the backcountry of the park.

Mokowanis Cascade

The falls may be accessed by the national trail that runs for about 1200 miles northwest Montana and makes its way down, partway along the Continental Divide, and westward through Idaho and into Washington State.

The stunning trail is one of the many attractions that draw people to the area as they hike along an incredible route, but the beautiful Mokowanis Cascade is another one of the draws, at least for waterfall lovers.

Mokowanis Cascade Stats

mokowanis cascade stats

A truly incredible, beautiful natural feature in Glacier National Park, the Mokowanis Cascade is accessible only by foot along the PNT (Pacific Northwest Trail).

  • Location: Backcountry, Glacier National Park, Glacier County, Montana
  • Latitude: 48.87634
  • Longitude: -113.84151
  • Stream: Mokowanis River
  • Height: 480 feet drop total
  • Season: Late spring to early autumn ideal
  • Campgrounds and RV parks nearby: 20+ campgrounds located within the park or nearby, with hundreds of sites available, and backcountry undesignated sites all around

Recreational Activities Near Mokowanis Cascade

When you visit Glacier National Park, Flathead National Forest, and the Kootenai National Forest, all situated at least partially within the northwestern corner of Montana, you’ll find yourself in an outdoor paradise.

The parks and forests of the region overflow with rivers, mountains, streams, lakes, waterfalls, hiking trails, swimming holes, campgrounds, horseback riding trails, and much more than you could ever explore in a lifetime.

Swimming

swimming

Curious if you can you swim in Mokowanis Cascade Falls? Sadly, the answer is no. It’s simply not safe and therefore not permitted.

Waterfalls look amazing and the idea is oh, so tempting to plunge beneath the cascades of rushing, roaring waters. But waterfalls create strong undercurrents that can drag you under and harm you. For this reason, it is never recommended to swim in a waterfall.

Instead, please find a safer body of water to enjoy. There are many lakes, rivers, streams, and natural pools within the area that may be accessed, such as Lake Josephine, Lake McDonald, Swiftcurrent Lake, and Lake St. Mary. Mokowanis Lake itself is also a good option, and close to the beautiful cascade.

Be aware of all bodies of water in the region, though, that they might be too chilly for your taste! Most are fed by glacier melt and mountain runoff, meaning they can be quite frigid year-round. But, if you’re brave enough to get your polar swim on, feel free to dive into these safer waters.

Boating

Many boating companies exist with rentals in and near Glacier NP. They let you bring out motorboats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, and others onto the beautiful waters within the park’s boundaries.

Or, if you have your own boat, feel free to bring it along. Kayaking, canoeing, and more can be an excellent choice on the many rivers in the area.

If you need a rental, check out:

White Water Rafting

And for those looking for something a bit more exciting than paddle boating across a glassy lake, white water rafting is a huge sport in the area. Bring your own gear or join a guided trip.

Be sure to check the various add-ons the companies offer, too, as many have things like snacks, dinner, wine, lodging, or camping additions to suit your thirst for fun and adventure.

Some of the best places to book in with include

Birdwatching and Wildlife Viewing

wildlife viewing

One of the many things that draw folks to Glacier NP is the possibility of spotting incredible or rare wildlife somewhere out there.

You may often spot large animals like moose or elk along the roadways, or out hiking you might spot the adorable little pikas or marmots. And birding is a lovely activity here, for folks looking for a quiet experience.

You could spot any of the following within the area:

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

Scenic Drives

If you’ve got the time, you’ll definitely want to indulge in some time in the car, too, just driving through the park, enjoying the natural sights you can see from a rolled-down window or Red Bus tour ride.

If you opt to book into a tour, though, be sure to book early as the seats fill up fast. And don’t forget that camera! You never know what wonders you’ll see out on the road.

Photography

The gorgeous vistas, stunning mountain ranges, sparkling rivers and lakes, fascinating wildlife, and dazzling waterfalls are only some of the sights you’ll want to catch on camera as you make your way through the park.

As you hike your way to Mokowanis Falls, you’ll want to remember the exciting moments out on the trail – so many Instagram-worthy moments!

Remember to pack extra memory cards and batteries or power banks for your trip, though, especially with backcountry hiking and camping, since there won’t be any outlets around to recharge.

Fishing

Fishing is permitted in many locations throughout Glacier National Park. Fishing is permitted in the Mokowanis River, specifically, with no license required.

Be sure to check in on other locations, however, as many of the backcountry rivers and bodies of water either do not permit fishing or are not capable of supporting fish life for a number of reasons.

Many folks trek out on their own within Glacier to get a nice quiet fishing spot with a buddy or two, heading out to

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

But if hiring a guide seems a good choice, both Glacier Guides and Get Your Guide can help you find the right guide for the type of fishing you’re interested in.

Cycling

cycling

Glacier National Park is home to many exciting off-road cycling trails. You’ll want to check the difficulty ratings, elevation, and other statistics before you take off.

The MTB Project can help you pick, or if you’re a little unsure, you could always book in a lift-access ride with Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Trail Running

Throughout the NP, you’ll find many of the trails double as fantastic running trails, as well. Not all are suitable for the activity, and not all will be within your skill levels.

It’s recommended you check out Great Runs and All Trails to find the best options for your trail running plans before you set out.

Horseback Riding

One of the most popular activities in Glacier NP is horseback riding. The Swan Mountain Outfitters is a great company with three locations within the park where you can book a ride and take off: Many Glacier, Apgar, and Lake McDonald.

Consider the many trail ride packages they have for best results, though, as not all rides are equal! Check the locations and choose the length of ride you’d like to take and whatever amenities you might like to add on.

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 for pricing

Camping

If you’d like to backpack through the park, there are plenty of campsites (both designated and undesignated) to choose from. Or, if RVing it is more your speed, arrive early at one of the first come, first serve campgrounds, or reserve one online.

For remote backcountry hikes, it’s recommended that you anticipate that you might need to camp overnight, as the locations are quite far from the main roads and have access to amenities.

Be sure to bring along safety and emergency equipment, extra snacks, plenty of water, and a change of clothing, just in case.

Hotels and Cabin Rentals

But if camping isn’t your ideal way to spend a night in the great outdoors, you can rent a cabin or book a hotel room for the night.

Because of the immense popularity of Glacier National Park with visitors from around the world, there are hundreds of rooms to choose from. You do want to plan ahead, though, as many of the hotels and cabins fill up fast.

Some of the best locations and ways to find a place to stay include:

Museums and Educational Programs

If educational experiences are a must-have on your trip to Glacier country, you’ll be happy to know that many, many museums, galleries, and educational programs exist.

From ranger-led presentations and guided walks to the three visitors’ centers within the park, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to ask questions and learn about the natural and cultural history of the area.

Add in a visit to the Apgar Nature Center in Glacier, or head out to the many museums and galleries around the park for more.

Trail Routes

trail routes

There’s one primary trail route for reaching Mokowanis Cascade – and the fantastic news is that this trail is one of the most exciting trails in the Pacific Northwest!

The National Scenic trail starts in Montana near the Canadian border and makes its way along the Continental Divide for part of the trek before turning and heading westward toward Idaho, after which it crosses the panhandle, and then on into Washington state.

Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail

If you plan to hike much of the PNT, you may want to download the app specifically designed to guide you along this incredible 1200-mile journey through the PNW.

To make it to Mokowanis, you’ll be starting out toward the beginning of the trail and making your way along, joining the Continental Divide Trail part of the way. The trail itself crosses through three different national parks, seven national forests, and multiple mountain ranges, including the Cascades, Olympics, and Purcells.

The portion of the trail you’ll be hiking to find Mokowanis Falls is located within Glacier National Park, going along the Mokowanis River, toward either Mokowanis Lake or Atsina Lake.

Specific access points should be marked within the app or on maps available at park offices and visitor centers. If you’re still not confident finding the trail, check in with a park ranger.

  • Distance: Varies by access point
  • Elevation Gain: Varies by access point
  • Difficulty level: Challenging
  • Trail type: Point to point
  • Notes: Dogs are permitted on some portions of the trail.

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