One of seven national parks in British Columbia, Canada’s Glacier National Park was established in 1886 and includes 1349 square km (521 square miles). Part of the Selkirk Mountains are included in the park, along with the Rogers Pass National Historic Site. This history of Glacier National Park is linked to two main Canadian transportation routes; the Canadian Pacific Railway, which was completed in 1885 and the Trans-Canada Highway, which was finished in 1963.
Glacier National Park is home to alpine scenery and valleys complete with ancient forests. With opportunities for adventure year-round, the park features high peaks, large glaciers, stunning rivers and one of the largest cave systems in Canada. The park’s dense forests provide support to large mammals, birds and alpine species in an area known for heavy snowfall. Offering the world’s only inland cedar rainforest, Glacier National Park offers the opportunity for a truly unique experience.
Regardless of the time of year you choose to visit, Glacier National Park will deliver stunning scenery, plenty of activities to engage in and the opportunity to learn about the history of the area. Direct your RV to Glacier National Park for an adventure you are sure to remember!
To get to Glacier National Park from Calgary, take the Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1W, continuing for 179 km (111 miles). Then, continue onto Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 W for 127 km (78 miles) until arriving at the park. Fuel is not available at Rogers Pass, so be sure to fill up your gas tank on your way; both the town of Revelstoke and Golden have fuel available.
You can take a charter bus from Calgary along the Trans-Canada Hwy to get to the park as well. If you are looking to get to the park from outside of Calgary, you can fly to the commercial airports in Revelstoke, Kamloops, Kelowna or Calgary and rent a vehicle to cover the remaining distance.
Parking is available throughout the park.
Public transportation is not available to Glacier National Park.
Another option for an overnight visit to Glacier National Park is to go backcountry camping. Backcountry campsites can be found on the Hermit Trail, Mount Sir Donald Trail and the BaldHills Wilderness Hiking Route. The campsites include a tent pad along with food storage poles or lockers that will allow you to put food where bears cannot access it. No open fires are allowed in the backcountry. Campers planning to camp in the backcountry must obtain a Wilderness Pass and a Park Pass, both of which are available at the Rogers Pass Discovery Center as well as at the Park Headquarters in Revelstoke. Backcountry camping is an excellent way to enjoy a longer hike in the park as well as the peace and quiet its remote areas have to offer.
The Loop Brook Campground can be found 5 km (3 miles) west of the summit of Rogers Pass. Open July 1 through late September, the campground offers 20 campsites that are first come first serve. Flush toilets, kitchen shelters and food lockers are available at the campground and generators can be used between the hours of 10am and 8pm; be sure to use sparingly so that others can enjoy the quiet of the campground and the park. Campfires are allowed with the purchase of a fire permit and firewood is free at the campground. Loop Brook Campground can accommodate RV’s and trailers of a variety of sizes; choose a site that is appropriate for your equipment, register and get set up!
Located 3 km (1 mile) west of the summit of Rogers Pass, Illecillewaet Campground is open from late June through early October. The campground offers 60 campsites that offer kitchen shelters and food lockers. Water and flush toilets are available at the campground. Generators can be used between the hours of 10am and 8pm and it is requested that use is kept to a minimum so that the campground remains quiet. Firewood is available at the campground as is free with campfires being allowed with the purchase of a fire permit. Sites are first come first serve; upon your arrival, choose a site that fits your equipment and check in at the welcome station. The Illecillewaet campground makes a great home base from which to adventure!
The Glacier Park Lodge is located at Rogers Pass in the Selkirk Mountains and provides a home based for you to begin and end your day. A traditional mountain lodge, staying at the Glacier Park lodge will provide the opportunity to experience one of the top year-round backcountry destinations in the world. The lodge is an excellent place to warm up and relax after a hard day of tramping through the park exploring! Rooms with two double beds or with a king or queen bed are available at the lodge.
A popular winter activity in Glacier National Park is ski touring in Rogers Pass. The pass, which receives an average of 10 m (32 feet) of snowfall each year, is a popular destination for those who enjoy ski touring. Make sure to look into Parks Canada’s Winter Permit System, as explosive artillery fire is used in Rogers Pass in order to protect the highway and railway from natural avalanches and the system allows for the separation of skiers from the artillery fire and subsequent avalanches. Ski touring is an excellent way to enjoy the park and its beautiful winter scenery!
The Rogers Pass Discovery Centre, located within the Rogers Pass Historic Site, is open year-round and is a perfect place to explore during the months when there is a lot of snow on the ground in Glacier National Park. The Discovery Centre is a replica of a historic railway snowshed and, according to Explore Magazine, is “the best national park museum in Canada”. Recently renovated, the centre includes a theatre, exhibits about avalanches, wildlife and the area’s history and is the only facility in the front country that is open during the winter and early spring when campgrounds and day-use areas are covered in snow. The centre is open daily (except on December 25) though hours change throughout the year.
You will typically have a better chance of viewing wildlife by driving or hiking either early or late in the day, so keep that in mind if you are hoping for an animal encounter. Glacier National Park is home to grizzly and black bears and you are most likely to view them in the park from mid-May through early June. This is when they come out of hibernation and can frequently be seen from your car on the highway. Keep your eyes on the avalanche slopes in Rogers Pass to spot either type of bear. During the time that the dandelions are in bloom, you have a better chance to see a black bear eating the flowers near the side of the road. Mountain goats can be seen throughout the year above the highway snowsheds on the eastern side of Rogers Pass. Keep your eyes out for off-white forms near rocky areas; you may just spot a mountain goat!
During your visit to Glacier National Park, bring your bicycle along. The park will offer you a number of opportunities to explore it by bike, no matter your ability level. From the seat of your bike you can enjoy close-up views of old-growth forests, rivers and streams, a variety of birds and even some animals. Mountain bikers may enjoy a ride on the lower Beaver Valley Trail, beginning at the trailhead, which is near the Beaver Valley gravel pit, to the Grizzly Creek bridge. Keep in mind that mountain biking trails are also used by those hiking and walking, and caution should be taken when using the trails.
When it comes to hiking, you will find plenty of opportunities during your visit to Glacier National Park. Included in the park are the Columbia Mountains, which are rugged, with narrow valleys. You can find some easy hikes to take in the park, and many hikes that are more challenging. Many of the trails were built initially to access mountain climbs and glaciers. The majority of the hikes in the Illecillewaet area, for example, have an elevation gain of about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). The reward is worth the effort, as your hike will frequently take you to ridges with amazing views or through stands of ancient giant trees. Regardless of your ability level, there is an opportunity for you to explore the park on foot during your visit.