Glacier National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Located in the Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park is known for its stunningly beautiful views - filled with impressive peaks and valleys that have been carved out over time from glaciers. Located in Montana and sitting on the Canadian border, this park is full of historical wonders, making it a place with lots to see when you go RV camping here. For over 10,000 years, people have been attracted to this land area for different reasons. It started with the Native Americans, then the European explorers came in, followed by the miners and eventually, settlers. Each group wanted something different - game buffalo, beaver pelts, minerals, and farm land. This area finally became an official national park in 1910 under President Taft, making it America’s 10th national park. There are a total of 375 historic properties within the park and out of them, six are recognized as must-see National Historic Landmarks.

When you visit or go camping here, you can expect the weather to be a bit unpredictable due to the park’s location. It sits on a Continental Divide, which gives a mix of warm, wet Pacific air coming from one direction, and cold, dry Arctic air coming from the other. This means that temperatures can drop drastically at night, and the rainfall can be completely different depending on which side of the park you’re on. The best thing to do is dress in layers and always be prepared for rain. It’s a remarkable experience to see the drastic differences in weather when you go from one side to the other, and there’s no better way than from an RV base camp.

Park Alerts (2)

[Caution] Many Glacier Campground Update

The Many Glacier Campground is currently restricted to hard-sided vehicles only.

[Information] Goat Haunt Services Not Available This Summer [+ Info]

Goat Haunt will not have an operational water or hydroelectric power system for the 2019 summer due to staffing shortages. If the park is successful with recruitment for water operator staff positions, Goat Haunt will resume normal operations.

RV Rentals in Glacier National Park

Transportation in Glacier National Park

Driving

This park is very open and accessible to both cars and RVs, and there are four different entry options.

The West Entrance is best to take if you want access to the Lake McDonald area, the Apgar area, the Park Headquarters, or Going-to-the-Sun-Road. You can reach the West Entrance by taking Highway 2 North to West Glacier from Kalispell.

The other three entrances - St. Mary, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier - are all close to the city of Browning, and can be reached by taking Highway 89 north from Great Falls into Browning, then simply following the signs to the park from there.

Parking

There are many parking options within the park, and they have people with RVs and trailers in mind. To help eliminate unnecessary parking issues though, you can park your RV at your chosen campsite and take the free shuttle around the park. Areas that do not accommodate RVs and trailers include Bowman Lake, Cut Bank, Kintla Lake, Logging Creek, Quartz Creek, and Sprague Creek. All other areas in the park are much more welcoming to bigger vehicles.

Public Transport

If you’re not planning to drive in, you can also get to the park easily by plane or train - each entrance is nearby an international airport, as well as Amtrak stops.

One of the great features of Glacier National Park is its free shuttle system. One shuttle goes to and from Kalispell, and the other to and from Whitefish. Both routes make stops at several points of interest throughout the park, making transportation very convenient.

The Going-to-the Sun Road is a very popular road to take through the park, but access may be limited due to size restrictions. To get around limitations with your RV, hop on a bike or shuttle or even take a guided tour.

Campgrounds and parking in Glacier National Park

Campsites in Glacier National Park

Reservations camping

Whitefish / Kalispell North KOA

Home to Whitefish Mountain ski resort, Whitefish, MT is also a gateway to Glacier National Park. Stay a few nights at pet-friendly Whitefish / Kalispell North KOA to enjoy the best the town has to offer. Partially shaded deluxe patio sites complete with full hookups, up to 50-amp service and access to campfire pit are on offer. Water/electric sites are available, too. Amenities range from snack bar, Kamping Kitchen, pool, hot tub/sauna and mini golf. Purchase propane and firewood on-site. There are bike rentals as well as a tour shuttle. Wi-Fi is present, and big rigs up to 90' can be accommodated.

West Glacier KOA

Just west of Glacier National Park's west entrance, West Glacier, MT offers park visitors a bit of civilization, like cafes, restaurants, grocery stores and banks. Stay close to these conveniences at West Glacier KOA while enjoying the outdoor recreation opportunities the town offers. Find a quiet wooded water/electric site, a full hookup spot with fire pit and mountain views, or a satellite-friendly deluxe patio site with mature landscaping, full hookups and up to 50-amps service. There's propane and firewood on-site as well as a snack bar, hot tub/sauna and pool. Rigs up to 75' are welcome. Pets are allowed.

St. Mary / East Glacier KOA

Guests can’t get much closer to Glacier National Park and the famous Going-to-the-Sun scenic roadway than at the St. Mary/East Glacier KOA. Pack a picnic from supplies at the KOA grocery store or pick up a gift for friends and family back at home. A tour bus is available right at the St. Mary/East Glacier KOA entrance. Guests can safely keep pups at the campground and take advantage of the campground’s on-site pet sitting and kennel boarding services. At the campground, enjoy the seasonal pool and hot tub. Hungry? Pick up breakfast, pizza and dinner at the AOK Grill, open from mid-June to mid-September. Big rigs are welcome in the 75’ pull-through sites, all featuring full hookups. The campground also provides clean restrooms, hot and refreshing showers and laundry facilities.

Many Glacier Campground

Many Glacier has 41 sites that are available by reservation. Most sites here do not allow vehicles longer that 21 feet, but a few do allow for vehicles between 26 and 30 feet. They also have restroom facilities, drinking water, and a dump station readily available.

St. Mary Campground

St. Mary is another campground that takes reservations and has the same amenities and rules as Fish Creek - full access to restroom facilities, showers, drinking water, and a dump station, but no vehicles larger than 21 feet wide and 8 feet long are allowed.

Apgar Campground

At Apgar, reservations for groups of 9 to 24 people can be made, and there are 10 group sites to choose from. The same rule applies here with vehicle size - no vehicles longer than 21 feet and wider than 8 feet are allowed. You’ll be able to find restroom facilities, drinking water, and a dump station here.

Fish Creek Campground

Fish Creek is one of the largest campgrounds in the park and has 178 total sites to choose from. When you camp here, you’ll have quick access to restroom facilities, showers, drinking water, and a dump station. Keep in mind though that no vehicles larger than 21 feet long and 8 feet wide are allowed.

First-come first-served

Rising Sun Campground

This is the perfect campground for seeing a beautiful sunrise over Red Eagle Mountain each morning. You’ll be guaranteed access to potable water and restroom facilities with flush toilets and sinks with running water. There are also opportunities to go to see the exciting ranger programs that they have in the evenings.

Avalanche Campground

Avalanche Campground has 50 camping spots that are available to vehicles up to 26 feet long, making it a much more convenient place for RV camping than some of the other spots at Glacier National Park. You can also take advantage of restroom facilities with flush toilets and running water nearby.

Two Medicine Campground

Two Medicine is a great place to bring your RV. It has spots available for vehicles up to 35 feet long. There are only 10 sites that are this spacious though and its first-come, first-served. If you want grab one of these choice spots, it’s better to come early or during the off season.You’ll also have access to restroom facilities that have flush toilets and running water.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Glacier National Park

Spring

Backcountry Camping

When you backcountry camp or backpack through Glacier National Park, you’ll get the richest experience of all. Lower human impact, immerse yourself in the nature around you, and get up close to the wildlife this way. Just be sure to come fully prepared and get a permit before you head out.

Photography

This park is absolutely beautiful year-round, which gives everyone great opportunities for picture-taking when they visit. If you come in the spring though, you can photograph the wildflowers in the fields, the emerging wildlife, and the Northern Lights at night, along with the stunning mountain views and waterfalls that you can see all year.

Guided Tours

Glacier National Park offers many options for guided tours - almost too many to choose from. You can take boat tours, bus tours, do guided hiking, rafting, horseback rides, and even take field courses all throughout the park. Guided tours are a great way to explore the park because you’ll be with someone who knows their way around and can teach as you go.

Hike Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald provides a variety of hiking trails and options. Many of the trails go through beautiful woods, around water, and some of them even loop around. There are even trails for horseback riding. Trail lengths vary greatly - the Trail of the Cedars is only .7 miles and is a great choice for beginner hikers. Lincoln Lake, on the other hand, totals an unbelievable 8 miles.

Bicycling

Spring season is bike season, and taking a bike through the park is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air that nature provides. The Going-to-the-Sun-Road is open only to hikers and bikers during this time of the year, allowing for a safer trip. During other parts of the year, cyclists need to take proper precautions with sharing a road with cars.

Summer

River Camping

Within the park, you have the opportunity to camp next to a river - the North Fork of the Flathead River. Up to 12 people can go camping at once, but only for one night at a time. Be sure that you get a backcountry camping permit before going, and that you know what weather conditions to expect.

Native America Speaks

This ranger program is a great opportunity to learn about Native American culture and history that happened right here in the park. Each Summer, members of Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d'Oreille tribes come together to share their knowledge with park visitors. These programs take place at St. Mary Visitor Center, campgrounds, and lodges.

Boating

Summer is a great time of the year to go boating, and Lake McDonald is a popular spot for it. Any gas-powered boats will need to be quarantined for 30 days before use, and all boats will need to go through inspection. The park’s main goal is to keep nature safe, so be sure that you play by the rules, and don’t forget to get a boating permit.

Fishing

Glacier National Park is all about preserving the area’s ecosystem. This means that there is a limit on the types of fish you can catch for keeping and how many. Catch and release fishing is a relaxing hobby, and there are many great places for it scattered throughout the park. Just be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations.

Stock Use

Many of the park trails are open to stock. You can bring your horses, mules, donkeys, and llamas to walk throughout the park. Just be sure to check that the trail you choose is one that allows stock, check weather and trail conditions, and be sure that your stock doesn’t graze. It’s important that the park remains as a place for everyone to enjoy.

Fall

Hike North Fork & Goat Haunt

North Fork has many flowery meadow options along with lakes and lookouts, and the trails tend to be longer here. Goat Haunt has Rainbow Falls, which is only a one-mile hike, and it also has some other lakes and overlooks. Waterton Townsite is the longest trail, at 8.5 miles.

Hike Many Glacier

The hiking trails at Many Glacier offer stunning viewpoints, waterfalls, and lakes. The shortest trail that you’ll find is a mile long and takes you to Apikuni Falls. Some trails consist of two separate trails, and the longest trial at Many Glacier is the second trail at Piegan Pass, totaling 8.4 miles.

Hike Logan Pass

Logan Pass only consists of two different trails, but Granite Park Chalet has three separate parts you can choose from, all of which are fairly lengthy. You can also go to Hidden Lake Overlook, which is only 1.4 miles, but you can add an extra 1.2 miles once you get to the overlook if you keep going towards Hidden Lake.

Hike Two Medicine

Two Medicine Valley lives up to its name. After all, what better medicine is there than getting out in nature? This area gives two of the best kinds of medicine there is: peace and quiet. For a quick trip, Running Eagle Falls is only .3 miles. If you’re looking for a long nature retreat, Dawson and Pitamakan Pass combine to create an all-day long loop trail.

Hike Saint Mary

This area offers some of the most beautiful hikes, and many of them are perfect for children, elderly, and beginner hikers. There are lots of trails that are less than a mile long, and even more that between one and two miles long. For the more advanced and avid hikers, there are some trails that are around seven or eight miles long.

Winter

Playing in the Snow

Who doesn’t like playing in the snow? There’s no better way to bond with the family during the winter than getting outside to have a snowball fight. You can work together to build a snowman or even an igloo. There’s plenty of snow here in the winter, so you’ll definitely have enough to do it all.

Sledding

Sledding can be a really fun pastime when there is snow on the ground. Just bring your own sled, or whatever you wish to sled on, find a good hill to go down, and get started. Just make sure to not get too crazy - you’ll still need to make sure the hill isn’t too steep and watch for things that might get in the obstacles.

Glacier Insta-Meets

InstaMeets is a great way to come together and connect with people in the park. These meetings are specifically designed for people to share their experiences, ideas, and pictures with people just like you. You can join in on the fun by hashtagging any posts or photos from your visit with #GlacierNPS.

Cross-Country Skiing

In the winter, many of the hiking trails turn into skiing trails. One of the most popular places to ski is the Apgar area. Be sure to obtain a backcountry camping permit before you head out to ski, and keep in mind the risks and dangers of hypothermia and avalanches.

Winter Snowshoe Walk

The Winter Snowshoe Walk is a ranger-led program. Get to experience this snowy Winter wonderland as your guide points out all the native plants and animals that you’ll see during your walk. Participating in the snowshoe walk is great family fun, but is not recommended for children under the age of 6.

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