4 Days in Glacier National Park
Glacier is one of my favorite national parks. It stole my heart in 2015 and it’s one of the few places on Earth I’d love to return to again and again. If you’re wondering how many days to spend in Glacier, I think four is the sweet spot for a first-time visit. Below, you’ll find some basic information about the park, followed by my recommendations on how to fill those four days.
How to get there
The closest airports are in Kalispell, MT on the west side of the park and Great Falls, MT on the east side. Kalispell is closer to the west entrance than Great Falls is to the east one so it’s tempting to fly into Kalispell. However, I prefer the east side of the park for accessibility to some of the best trails in the park.
From the West: Kalispell (45 min to the west side of the park)
From the East: Great Falls (2.5-hr drive to the east side of the park)
Where to Stay
The nearest town to the east entrance is Browning, on the Blackfeet reservation. For a unique experience, consider the Lodgepole Gallery and Tipi Village but read my post about our stay there first for a closer look! Glacier Peaks hotel offers a regular hotel experience for those not ready for a tipi.
There are awesome options inside the park, too, if you don’t mind spending a bit more money for the convenience – Glacier Park Lodge and Many Glacier Hotel. Many Glacier Hotel is right next to two of the recommended hikes.
On the west side of the park, I recommend the Moose Creek Bed and Breakfast in West Glacier, MT. If you can snag The Deck as your room, you won’t be sorry! And the home-made breakfast is to die for.
When to go
Glacier National Park is bisected by the Going to the Sun road, which connects West Glacier on the west end with St. Mary on the east end. However, this road is closed due to snow well into June and even as late as early July. Plowing typically begins in April from both ends and you can check the current status here. If you want this road to be fully open, I recommend waiting until mid-July to be sure.
July and August are the best months but the weather can still be unpredictable so be sure to check it frequently. I recommend using the weather link on the park’s website for the forecast rather than using mainstream weather channels. Many parks, in the West especially, have multiple climate zones and simply typing in the nearest town into weather.com will not give you an accurate forecast. If you are hiking, beware that weather at the top can be very different compared to the trailhead. Always check with park rangers the day before for the most recent forecast and the latest on trail conditions.
Day 1: Grinnell Glacier – hands down the best hike in the park. ~8 miles, ~1800 ft elevation. Trailhead on east side of the park near Many Glacier Hotel.
Day 2: Iceberg Lake – ~ 10 miles, ~1200 ft elevation. Trailhead on the east side near Many Glacier Hotel.
Day 3: Take the Going to the Sun Road from the east to the west side of the park. Once on the west side, hike to Apgar Lookout – ~7 miles, ~1800 ft elevation.
Day 4: Day trip to Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada). The best way to see it is to book a cruise of the lake. Don’t forget your passport!
Please leave me a comment if you have your own recommendations – I know other travelers would appreciate it! Safe travels!
Note: the recommendations in this post are mine and are based on my own travel experiences. I am not getting paid for them. However, this post does contain affiliate links to some of my recommendations. Please read our affiliate disclosure.
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