Glacier National Park has 13 different campgrounds and approximately 1,009 sites to choose from, options are plentiful. We feature 5 of the more popular campgrounds in the park: Apgar, Avalanche, Fish Creek, Rising Sun, and Sprague Creek.
Glacier National Park is located in the northwest corner of Montana along the spine of the Rocky Mountains.
Visitors arriving by car will use U. S. Highway 2 to access the park from either the east or west. Visitors can also access the park from the north using Highways 89 or 17.
Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Montana is 25 miles west of park headquarters in West Glacier, Montana. There are also airports in Great Falls, Montana (200 miles east of West Glacier) and Missoula, Montana (156 miles south of West Glacier). Car rentals are available at airports. Shuttles are available at the Kalispell airport. Please click HERE for shuttle schedule and prices.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road was completed in 1932 and is a spectacular 52 mile, paved two-lane highway that bisects the park east and west. It spans the width of Glacier, crossing the Continental Divide at 6,646-foot-high Logan Pass. It passes through almost every type of terrain in the park, from large glacial lakes and cedar forests in the lower valleys to windswept alpine tundra atop the pass. Scenic viewpoints and pullouts line the road, so motorists can stop for extended views and photo opportunities. The road is well worth traveling in either direction, as the view from one side of the road is much different than from the other. In 1983 Going-To-The-Sun Road was included in the National Register of Historic Places and in 1985 was made a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
St. Mary Lake
St. Mary Lake is on the east side of Glacier National Park along The Going-to-the-Sun Road. This lake is 10 miles long but not as wide as McDonald Lake. You'll want to stop at the turnouts at the end of the lake for a view of 100-foot Virginia Falls across the valley. From the Virginia Falls Turnout or Sun Point you can take some short hikes. One is a fork that leads to Sunrift Gorge where a steep, paved path leads to an overlook with windswept pines and views of Baring Creek cascading over slickrock. Another trail continues around to the end of St. Mary Lake and leads to St. Mary and Virginia Falls. There is an excellent view of St. Mary Lake as the trail rounds the lower end of the lake over a bluff. It then takes you to St. Mary Falls and then over a bridge at the base of Virginia Falls.
Lake McDonald is Glacier National Park's biggest lake; ten miles long and 472 feet deep. Filling a basin gouged out by Ice Age glaciers, Lake McDonald is a classic glacial feature. This long fjord-like lake is surrounded by mountains on the north, south, and east with the Continental Divide, 14 miles away. The mountains provide a spectacular backdrop for the lake and also act as a rain block. Much of the blocked precipitation ends up falling on the McDonald valley. The result is a mild, damp climate. Stands of western red cedar and hemlock flourish in the valley of Lake McDonald. The wildlife-viewing here can be spectacular, with species including bighorn sheep, mountain goat, elk, black bear, and whitetail and mule deer.
Iceberg Lake Trail
The hike up Iceberg Trail begins at a short connecting trail that climbs for several hundred yards to join the main trail. The trail then turns northwest and passes below Altyn Peak and Mount Wilbur and then rises across the valley to the south. The trail then comes to a popular resting spot, Ptarmigan Falls. After passing the falls, the trail reaches the junction with the Ptarimigan Tunnel Trail, and then turns southwest along the Ptarmigan Wall. The trail then curls around to the south of the glacial lake, known as Iceberg Lake.
Experience the spectacular beauty of Glacier's high country on this classic hike that parallels the famous Garden Wall. The trail gradually climbs 200 feet over 7.6 miles to Granite Park Chalet followed by a steep 2,200 foot descent over the last 4 miles to the Loop.
Do not attract bears or other wildlife! When not in immediate use, all food, cooking appliances, utensils, storage containers (empty or full), and pet items, that may attract or provide a reward to wildlife, must be kept in a closed hard-sided vehicle, day or night. This includes coolers and beverage containers regardless of use or content.
Campers without vehicles must secure items in available food lockers or use hanging devices.
Do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter around your camp.
Garbage must be properly stored at all times. Use bear proof trash cans.
Activities must be kept to a level that ensures noise does not disturb other campers. Quiet hours are from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Generator use in campgrounds is permitted only during the hours: 8:00 – 10:00 a.m.; 12 noon – 2:00 p.m.; and 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
It is unlawful to gather or cut firewood except in the following areas:
Fires must be kept inside fire grates and attended all times. Be sure your fire is dead out when leaving for any reason.
Firewood is available for purchase at most camp stores.
Fireworks are prohibited in Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park is open every day of the year. Winter weather however, tends to dictate when most visitor facilities open. Generally from late May to early September, facilities are open to welcome the flush of summer visitors.
Many people enjoy the "off-seasons" as a time when the park is a bit quieter. Late September and October can be spectacular, but visitors will need to be more self reliant, as facilities are closing down for the season. Winter provides a carpet of snow that makes for some good cross-country skiing opportunities. Spring tends to arrive late and last a very brief time, but can provide an interesting and quiet experience.
Plowing on the Going-to-the-Sun Road begins in April. Ten miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road (from park headquarters at West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge) are maintained throughout the winter providing access to winter recreation opportunities at the head of the lake. Due to road rehabilitation, for the next 8-10 years, weather permitting, the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road will be open for public vehicle access from mid-June to mid-September.
Other park roads generally open in May, weather permitting.
The average visitor spends three to four days in the area, although you easily could fill a week with activities in the park. Listed below are some suggestions based on length of stay. Use the information on this Web site to tailor these activities to suit your own interests. Whatever you chose to do, remember to take some time to relax and enjoy your time in the park.