Guest Post by Jake Bramante of Hike734
My wife is the planner. I, however, am not. While I’m great when things don’t go as planned, they can be abysmal when we show up to a place and stare at each other and say, “So, um, what should we do?
In smaller national parks such as Crater Lake National Park or Bryce Canyon National Park, you can just show up and see pretty much everything. The same advice for any of these places is always: 1. Show up early and 2. Have appropriate food/clothing/gear. When you come to places such as Glacier National Park, however, it really helps to know before you show up.
The first thing that you find out when you visit Glacier is that it’s big… really big. With over 700 miles of trail spread out over a million acres, you realize that it will take more than a week or two to see what you want to see. Simply driving until you see something interesting won’t get you very far, and it gets better, the closer to the Continental Divide you get.
The second thing you find out is that it takes a long time to get from one region to the other. Most show up at the West Entrance near Apgar. To get to some of the amazing trails such as Iceberg Lake and Grinnell Glacier in Many Glacier, you are looking at a 3 hour drive. That puts you in Many Glacier in a time where finding a parking spot is next to impossible.
If you’ve never been to Glacier before, my first recommendation is to spend an entire day driving Going-to-the-Sun Road. Start early and, on your way to Logan Pass, keep the stops to a minimum to get up to Logan Pass. The scenic parking lot fills up easily by mid-morning in the summer. After that first day, there are many amazing things to do from hiking to paddle boarding on Lake McDonald to horseback riding to relaxing on a porch overlooking Swftcurrent Lake.
It really does pay to read up. Check on the official site for Glacier at http://www.nps.gov/glac to read the visitor handout before you come. Pick up a variety of resources from maps and guides to determine where to hike as well as a couple about the flora and fauna you’ll meet along the way. The latter will enrich your experience in this amazing landscape.
So as you think about visiting Glacier, don’t be like me and just figure it out when you get here, follow the example of my wife and plan ahead!
To plan ahead for your Glacier National Park visit, visit our online Park Store for maps, guidebooks, and more. Proceeds from your purchases support projects and programs to preserve Glacier National Park for the next generation.