Visit the scenic wonders of snow-dusted mountains and wooded valleys in the heart of Glacier National Park.
Turquoise lakes shimmer beside emerald hills in the serene countryside of northwestern Montana. Make the most of your trip to the park’s icy alpine forests by exploring these five scenic wonders.
Snowcapped summits soar above the glistening surface of Lake MacDonald, the largest lake in Glacier National Park. The rippling blue freshwater is so clear that you can see the multicolored stones that comprise the lake’s floor while standing on its shore. For unparalleled views of the picturesque waters, relax at the rustic Lake MacDonald Lodge, a sprawling resort whose 82 guest rooms are divided between a variety of buildings. Whether you stay in the three-story main structure or opt for a cheerful cranberry-red cabin, soak in the beauty of towering mountains and deep green woods.
Wind through rock tunnels and forested hillsides via one of the park’s iconic eight-hour Red Bus Tours. Learn about the park’s history from your driver, an experienced tour guide with inside information and commentary about the area. A variety of scenic excursions are available; one such trip is the Western Huckleberry Mountain Tour, a $50 ride that explores Glacier’s rugged North Fork as well as cedar and hemlock forests nestled in the Lake MacDonald Valley.
A scenic byway that curves through gently sloping valleys and massive bluffs, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is a breathtaking route with magnificent views of emerald forests, sparkling lakes and soaring peaks. Slowly make your way through 50 miles of sun-kissed greenery and towering cliffs. If you plan on driving along this stunning road before Sept. 11, 2022, you will need to purchase a $2 vehicle reservation from recreation.gov. The reservation is valid for three consecutive days and permits one private vehicle to enter the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor.
Bighorn sheep, mountain goats and elk wander through the grassy pastures of Logan Pass, the highest point on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Wildflowers splash neon paint on its meadows, dotting the lime-green fields with vibrant bursts of magenta and hot pink. After exploring the sun-streaked prairie, take a 3-mile hike to the top of Logan Pass and gaze down on the dazzling Hidden Lake, an aquamarine beauty framed by charcoal peaks.
St. Mary Falls
A curtain of frothy whitewater plunges over boulders and splashes into a teal pool at St. Mary Falls, a charming cataract in the heart of Glacier Park. Take a 1.2-mile hike from the St. Mary Falls Trailhead to the churning cauldron to see a silky cascade of white satin flow over sunlit rocks. For the best hiking experience, wear sturdy boots to stay safe on slippery stones and bring a backpack with snacks, sunscreen, insect repellant and bear spray.
St. Mary Village offers a variety of accommodations for a comfortable stay near the Falls. Soak in a jacuzzi tub or relax by the fireplace in a Superior room at the Great Bear Lodge, a villa with easy access to Glacier’s rugged East Side. If you prefer a rustic cottage, stay in one of the secluded Glacier Trailhead Cabins, where rich views of sunlit peaks make up for poor Wi-Fi coverage and spotty cell service.
Many Glacier Hotel
A stately five-story resort on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake, Many Glacier Hotel offers stunning views of forested hills and cloud-wreathed peaks. Take in the beauty of snow-dusted mountains from the comfort of this elegant chocolate-brown chalet that has graced northeastern Glacier National Park for over a century. While Glacier’s alpine beauty is a feast for the eyes, that’s not the only delicacy on the menu. Sample some wild mushroom pasta or steaming minestrone soup at the Swiss Lounge, a restaurant and bar nestled in the hotel’s classy Ptarmigan Dining Room.
Just a stone’s throw from Many Glacier Hotel, the Iceberg Lake trail is a moderate 9.3-mile hike that winds through hillsides bursting with bright yellow sunflowers. During your trek, watch creamy cascades flow over slick rocks as soft rainbows dance above emerald meadows. Upon reaching the lake, you will be treated to stunning views of snow-white icebergs floating serenely in the cobalt-blue water. Don’t let Iceberg Lake’s tranquility lull you into forgetting that nature has a wild side too—talk loudly and jingle some bells as you walk so you don’t surprise any bears.
Experience what the Canadian side of Glacier has to offer at Waterton Lakes, a scenic national park in southwest Alberta. Keep an eye out for majestic wildlife, including moose and white-tailed deer, while walking and driving through the park. Bicycle through endless grasslands with beautiful lakeside views or take a moderate 3.2-mile hike to the rushing Bertha Falls, where thin jets of whitewater spray rocks with mist.
Nestled in the heart of Waterton Lakes is the Prince of Wales Hotel, a charming red-and-green resort surrounded by soaring peaks. During your stay, get your feet wet at Red Rock Canyon, a narrow gorge where shallow streams flow over crimson-and-cream rocks. For a stunning view of Waterton Valley, take a moderate 1.8-mile hike to Bear’s Hump and gaze down on lush forests and sparkling blue water below.
Experience the splendor of Glacier National Park by visiting these five must-see attractions.