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Salamander Falls, Glacier County

Although not particularly remote, Salamander Falls are some of the more difficult to access falls within Glacier National Park. This narrow but tall waterfall is made from the melting ice of Salamander Glacier.

Located in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park, Salamander Glacier is one of the remaining 37 glaciers in Glacier National Park. It is also one of two glaciers that are located along the Grinnell Lake and Glacier trail.

In the early 1900s, Salamander Glacier did not exist. It was a part of Grinnell Glacier, a large glacier that encompassed most of the basin where Upper Grinnell Lake sits. During the early history of Glacier National Park when access was more difficult, monitoring glaciers happened only periodically.

By 1929, Grinnell Glacier had retreated so much that it split into two distinct glaciers: Grinnell Glacier and Salamander Glacier.

The falls are not particularly remote, being that the Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier trail is quite popular with more experienced hikers. The hike to Salamander Falls is one of the most scenic in the park and is a great full-day adventure for visitors that are prepared for a challenging hike.

Salamander Falls, Glacier County

Salamander Glacier sits on the ledge above Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake. The Glacier is around 30 acres in size. Salamander Glacier is a feature located on the eastern face of the Garden Wall. Salamander Falls cascade down the Garden Wall feeding upper Grinnell Lake.

salamander falls statistics
Image: Jason Vines

Salamander Falls Statistics

  • Elevation: 7,200 feet (2,210 meters)
  • Height: 440 feet (134 meters)
  • Trailhead: Grinnell Trailhead
  • Season (when can it be accessed): April to October

Things to Do Near Salamander Falls

The Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park is called such because most of the Park’s namesake glaciers are located near this part of the park. The Many Glacier area has plenty of activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Hiking

Hiking in the Many Glacier area is almost certainly the most popular activity in this part of the park. There are plenty of hiking trails that start in this area, lots leading to overlooks where glaciers can be seen.

Some trails actually take you right up to some of the famous glaciers. You’ll find that there are quite a number of high peaks in this part of the park, so many of the hiking trails are difficult and can be fairly long.

Bears are quite common in this area, and you may find that trails in the Many Glacier Area are closed from time to time due to bear activity.

Hikers visiting the Many Glacier area of the park are encouraged to brush up on their bear avoidance skills prior to hiking within Glacier National Park.

Camping

One of the most popular campgrounds in Glacier National Park is located near the Grinnell Trailhead. The Many Glacier Ground is operated by the National Park Service and offers camping sites for both tents and RVs.

This campground is located at the end of Many Glacier Road, just past Swiftcurrent Lake. This campground is only open during the summer months, and sites must be reserved in advance.

In addition to the large established campground, there are plenty of backcountry campsites available to hikers that wish to experience Glacier National Park with fewer crowds.

Backcountry campsites do not need to be reserved, but hikers will need to collect a backcountry permit from one of the ranger stations in the park.

Backpackers will need to practice safe food storage and hiking procedures while in bear territory.

Canoeing/Kayaking

With a number of large lakes in the Many Glacier area, non-motorized boating is a fun activity. Small non-motorized boats are allowed on Swiftcurrent Lake, Josephine Lake, and Lake Sherburn.

Visitors that wish to boat in this part of the Park will need to bring their own kayak or canoe. Rental services are not available in this area of the park.

Fishing

There are many great fishing locations in the Many Glacier Area of Glacier National Park. With numerous lakes around the Many Glacier Campground and day-use area, there are plenty of spots to cast your line.

Fishing is generally allowed in all lakes in Glacier National Park, however, there are some limitations to fishing that you should be aware of before heading to Glacier National Park.

Information on fishing in Glacier National Park can be found on the Park website. Visitors wanting to fish in Montana and Glacier National Park must have a current Montana Fishing license.

Fishing licenses can be purchased online through the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks.

Can You Swim at Salamander Falls

Swimming at Salamander Falls is not recommended. Salamander Falls feeds Upper Grinnell Lake, which is a proglacial lake.

The water in these lakes is very cold, and even in summertime, the water temperature in Upper Grinnell Lake is not much warmer than freezing.

Swimming in Upper Grinnell Lake can be dangerous, so it is best to stay on land when visiting Salamander Falls.

Where to Stay Near Salamander Falls

The closest town to Salamander Falls is Babb, MT. This small town has limited camping and lodging options.

For a larger selection of lodging, visitors to Salamander Falls can either stay in the Park at one of the lodging options in the Many Glacier area, or there are more lodging options available in St. Mary, MT.

Lodging options in this part of the Glacier National Park area include camping, cabins, vacation rentals and hotels.

Trail Routes Near Salamander Falls

One of the nice features of the Two Medicine Lake area is the availability of trails. This area has over twenty trails that start near the lake and provide visitors with hikes through some of the most beautiful parts of Glacier National Park.

Grinnell Glacier Trail

grinnell glacier trail
Image: Jeff P

This trail is the access trail for Salamander Falls. You’ll start your hike at the Grinnell Trailhead located at the Many Glacier Campground area. There is good parking here, but the trail gets busy, so start your hike early. This hike is 11.2 miles long with 2,181 feet of elevation gain.

The climb on this trail is fairly steady so the hike isn’t terribly strenuous. Along this trail, you’ll have outstanding views of Allen Mountain, Angel Wing, Mount Grinnell, and Mount Gould.

The trail provides access to Grinnell Lake via the Grinnell Lake connector trail. Upper Grinnell Lake, Grinnell Glacier, Grinnell Falls, and Salamander Falls are all accessible from the Grinnell Glacier trail.

Swiftcurrent Nature Trail

swiftcurrent nature trail
Image: fritzmb

This is one of the more popular hikes in Glacier National Park. The Swiftcurrent Nature Trail is an interpretive trail that loops around Swiftcurrent Lake in the Many Glacier Area of the park.

The trail shares the Grinnell Trailhead and follows along Many Glacier Road before crossing over Swift Current Creek and following along the shore of the lake near Many Glacier Lodge.

This hike is quite easy and is a fun hike for families with small children. The loop is 2.6 miles long and has a gentle 127 feet of elevation gain.

Cracker Lake Trail

cracker lake trail
Image: GlacierGuyMT

Cracker Lake is a popular destination for backpackers. This moderately challenging trail is a perfect hike for beginner backpackers.

The trail is a 12.0 mile out and back hike with approximately 1,650 feet of elevation gain. The trail follows the valley that passes between Allen Mountain and Wynn Mountain.

Cracker Lake sits at the end of the valley, with Mount Siyeh and Cracker Peak as its backdrop. There are three, established campsites at Cracker Lake.

The color of Cracker Lake is one of the most breathtaking features of the hike. The lake itself is vibrant turquoise, which is a stunning contrast to the peaks surrounding the lake.

Redrock Falls/Swiftcurrent Pass

redrock falls
Image: Don Barrett

This is a great hike if you want to check out another waterfall, but don’t want to work as hard to get there.

This easy 3.6-mile out and back trail is a great hike to a pretty waterfall that is perfect for less experienced hikers. The hike starts at the Many Glacier Campground area, at the Swiftcurrent Pass trailhead.

The trail is fairly flat, with only 236 feet of elevation gain to the falls. Redrock Falls is a multi-level cascade that tumbles over red-hued rocks into Redrock Lake.

This trail is fairly popular because it is quite easy and the falls are very pretty.

Grinnell Overlook Trail

grinnell overlook trail
Image: DavidnKeng

The Grinnell Overlook trail is accessed from the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 11.4-mile out and back trail takes you from the road to the top of the Garden Wall where you can enjoy views of the Grinnell Valley.

This hike is considered to be fairly difficult due to the length of the trail and the significant amount of elevation gain you’ll encounter approximately halfway up the trail.

The views on your hike to the Grinnell Overlook are quite spectacular, however, the views on your way back down are not as great.

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