in Glacier National Park
see fall foliage
Fall is a wonderful time to visit the park to see a variety of foliage change their colors dramatically. On the west side of the park, the trees begin changing color mid-September. On the east side, fall colors appear toward the end of September and beginning of October.
The last color change is when the larch trees turn a brilliant gold color in mid-October. These trees are mainly on the west side of the park, but the southern boundary of the park is also a great place to view larch trees from along the road on Highway 2.
Fall is a great time to watch for wildlife in the park. All animals, especially bears, are preparing for winter by fattening up as much as possible.
Fall is also a fantastic time to view large numbers of hawks, golden eagles, and other raptors as they migrate south for the winter. One of the most important North American migration routes passes through Glacier National Park along the Continental Divide.
You may notice wildlife along roadsides as they graze and roam. Please do not approach or feed wildlife, and observe them with binoculars, spotting scopes or long telephotos lenses.
Most raft companies on the west side of the park operate through the end of September. During this time, the turquoise North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River are generally running low and slow.
These conditions can make for a perfect, relaxing fall float or fishing trip. If you’d like to go with a guide, be sure to check on conditions and make reservations in advance.
After Labor Day, no reservations are taken at campgrounds in the park, and all camping is on first-come, first-serve basis.
By November 1, Apgar and St. Mary Campgrounds are the only auto campgrounds that remain open and no fees are charged for the winter. For the exact operating dates of the campgrounds within Glacier, please visit the park’s Campground Status page.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Fall is quieter and a great time to see changing foliage, but visitors need to be flexible and self-reliant as facilities begin to close down for the season. Weather can change rapidly, and snow can occur anywhere during the fall.
During the fall, it is best to come prepared for winter-like conditions. Many services are still fully available through mid to late September. By the end of September, however, all lodging and many other concession services in the park have closed for the season.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is less congested with vehicle traffic during the fall. While portions of the road remain open all year, the alpine section of this road generally closes for the season the third weekend of October, regardless of weather.
Some sections may close earlier to accommodate accelerated road rehabilitation work. Visit the park’s Current Road Status page for planned closures and live status of all park roads.