Worst Time to Visit Glacier National Park (& Why They Might Be Perfect for You)

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: February 16th, 2024

If you’re planning a trip to Glacier National Park – one of Montana’s most stunning sites – it’s important to be prepared. 

While you’ll be sure to be blown away by its majestic peaks and valleys no matter when you visit, there are some parts of the year that are definitely better than others…

Depending on why you want to visit, of course! 

Like many other national parks, each season at Glacier brings something different and unique. 

When you’re deciding what time of year to make your trip, there are lots of different things to consider. 

We’ve covered all of the basics in this article so you can make an informed decision,  including: 

  • Visiting in the Summer 
  • Visiting in the Fall 
  • Visiting in the Winter 
  • Visiting in the Spring

Let’s jump right in! 

Summer (late June through mid-September) 

summer star ranch
Image: Phil Plait

Summer is the most popular time for visiting Glacier National Park. However, that definitely doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone! 

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect if you’re in the park from late June to mid-September:


Naturally, the summer period is the warmest for the park, with days sitting in the low eighties on average but dipping to below forty at night!

It’s the warmest in July and August, with the daily high between 84 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This period also receives the least precipitation. 

Still, you should prepare for wet weather as it can strike at any time of year. 

Make sure you pack rain gear, as well as cold weather gear for the evenings (and if you plan on exploring higher elevations). It’s also crucial to bring sun protection and bug spray!


Summer is by far the busiest season at Glacier National Park. 

It’s important to expect and prepare for crowds! This means trying to visit hot spots early or later in the day if you want to visit when there are fewer people, though it’s still unlikely you’ll have the place to yourself. 

There are a few practical aspects of crowds to prepare for, other than slightly disappointing Instagram opportunities. 

Parking lots at Logan Pass, Avalanche Creek, and other popular spots begin filling very early in the morning and are likely to remain congested throughout the day. 

On peak days, access to areas may even be restricted as they’ve reached capacity!

Similarly, shuttles are likely to be crowded, and you should be prepared to wait up to an hour for an available seat. 

Make sure to be patient, kind, and respectful of the natural environment and your fellow visitors. It’s also important to have backup plans in place if you’re met with interruptions in your itinerary. 

Worst for

If you’re looking for peaceful, solitary hikes, Summer is not the season for you. 

There also is unlikely to be snowfall, and it can get hot and sweaty – especially on the crowded trails. 

Accommodation and other amenities are also likely to be more expensive and in short supply during the busy season. 

Best for 

If you want to get the most out of Glacier National Park, there is a reason why summer is the most popular time to visit!

Mild conditions mean the entire park is likely to be open, giving you your pick of adventure. 

You can also get out on the water to raft, tube, fish, or even swim if you’re brave. 

There will be most activities during this period, so if you prefer ranger-led hikes and sessions, summer is the time to visit ( though you should always book in advance). 

Also, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, summer is the best time to see the glaciers themselves!

This is due to the lack of snowfall, meaning they stick out beautifully from the surrounding land. 


  • Beautiful weather
  • Lots of planned and guided activities
  • Watersports


  • Crowded trails and places 
  • Longer wait times and higher chance of things being booked out 

Fall (mid-September through mid-October)

trip during the fall season

If you don’t mind temperatures being cooler, Fall is a beautiful time to visit Glacier National Park!  


The weather during autumn in the park is relatively variable. During September, it still regularly reaches highs in the low seventies while only dropping into the forties at night. 

However, by October the average high is only in the mid-fifties, and it can get close to freezing!

You should expect more precipitation (including snowfall) and occasional road closures. 


Fall is one of the quietest times at the park, second only to winter!

This means it’s a great time to explore quieter trails and waterways. Especially once school has started back up, you can expect many fewer people to be in the park than in summer. 

However, this does also mean that the accommodation and many of the services close down by late September, so you should have your own plan in place at all times.

Be sure to take plenty of supplies and precautions even if you’re only planning a day trip! 

Worst for

There aren’t too many downsides to visiting Glacier National Park in the Fall, but it’s definitely going to be colder and quieter than Summer. 

If you prefer guided activities and a little hustle and bustle, make sure to visit in early September at the latest. 

It’s also not the best time to be there if you’re traveling with young children or elderly people due to the lack of services and facilities. 

Best for 

If you love peace and solitude but aren’t ready to rough it in the winter, autumn in the park will be perfect for you!

Cleared-out waterways mean more fishing (as well as fly fishing) is available, along with simply canoeing along in the quiet. 

However, the thing that draws people to the park the most in this season is the beautiful changing leaves. 

The leaves begin to turn in mid-September and are at their most glorious by mid-October as the landscape erupts in golden cascades of color. 


  • Quieter trails
  • Stunning fall color
  • Crisp but manageable weather.


  • Less guided activities, accommodation, and services available
  • Occasional cancellations and road closures.

Winter (mid-October through mid-April)

winter adventures

If you’re feeling brave, you can visit Glacier National Park in the winter; in fact, the park is open 365 days a year! 

Just be sure you’re prepared for the challenging conditions of these cold months. 


It is going to be cold during the winter months at the park, so be sure to pack accordingly if you plan on visiting between mid-October and mid-April!

You can expect highs in the mid-thirties in November and February, below-freezing in December and January, and then rising back up to the low fifties in April. 

However, even in April, the lows are usually in the low thirties and dip to the mid-teens in the colder months. 

You should also expect the highest levels of precipitation during these months, ranging from delicate snow to freezing rain (and even blizzards!). 


Winter is the quietest time by far at the park. 

In fact, most of the visitors are seasoned locals. You can expect to not run into very many people, including park staff as all accommodation and services shut during the winter months. 

However, campsites do remain open throughout the winter and offer the cheapest rates of the year – though you will of course still need a permit! 

Worst for

If you’re not used to cold weather and aren’t physically fit and capable, it’s not advised to stay at the park during the winter. 

Conditions are harsh, with extreme weather events and high avalanche risks as well as no (or very limited) services available. 

Road and trail closures are frequent, with many trails becoming inaccessible for the majority of winter due to safety and snowfall. 

However, you can still see the park in all of its frozen glory! Many people drive into the park on milder days just to take in the sights. 

Best for 

If you’re an avid adventurer, the park in the wintertime can be absolutely stunning. 

The snow-covered peaks, glittering lakes, and deep quiet are a truly magical experience. 

There are trails that are well suited for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, as well as spots for ice climbing. It’s also by far the cheapest time to visit the park. 


  • No crowds
  • Extremely beautiful sites
  • Winter sports opportunities
  • Cheap entry and camping fees.


  • Very cold, inhospitable conditions 
  • No services or accommodation running 
  • Frequent road and trail closures.

Spring (late April to mid-June) 

Chico Hot Springs Resort

Spring is the season of new beginnings; could it be yours at Glacier National Park? 

The park is delicate, changeable – and as always, beautiful in the spring (though not without its challenges!). 


The park is usually starting to slowly warm up by the end of April, and by mid-May, highs regularly reach the mid-fifties with lows rarely dipping below freezing.

By June, you can expect the warm days to reach the mild low seventies, though nights will still be chilly and snowfall is still possible throughout spring (and even summer!). 

Precipitation is still frequent in spring, including thunderstorms and hail. 


Attendance at the park picks up during spring, though it is still pretty quiet (especially in early spring when many roads are still closed to cars and kids are still in school). 

You can expect the guided activities and services to begin slowly resuming as well, though the park will not be in full swing until the summer months. 

Worst for 

Spring is pretty unpredictable, so it’s important that you still come very prepared! 

If you’re not a fan of changeable weather including sudden storms and cold snaps, you may want to wait until summer. 

As many of the services aren’t up and running yet, you’re also likely to have to camp in the park or travel in from one of the gateway communities (which will add travel time). 

In addition, bears are at their most active during spring – so staying in the park is not recommended for the ill-prepared or fainthearted!

Best for 

However, along with bears, plenty of other wildlife is at its most active during the springtime as well!

If you’re a bird watcher, budding nature photographer, or just love to watch things come back to life, spring is a great time to visit Glacier National Park.

If you enjoy cycling, you’ll relish the treat of riding along the famous Going to the Sun Road and taking in the stunning snowy peaks without dodging cars and RVs. 

It’s also the ultimate season for white water rafting, as snow melts swell the rivers to their max. 


  • Active wildlife
  • Mild weather in later months 
  • Cycling and whitewater rafting 
  • Still relatively quiet.


  • Still limited amenities 
  • Some road closures 
  • Colder weather than summer
  • Some dangerous wildlife activity. 

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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