"Glacier National Park - Postcard Perfect!" Top 5 Page for this destination Glacier National Park by Bwana_Brown

Glacier National Park Travel Guide: 374 reviews and 891 photos

It was July, 2006 and my wife and I were overdue for a trip to Alberta, Canada to visit two of our daughters who live there. Alberta itself is a great place to visit and explore, but we had already been there for a couple of earlier visits. As a result, after spending a very enjoyable week with each of our daughters in Cold Lake and then Calgary, we decided to tack an extra week onto the end of our trip to explore parts of the continent that we had never before seen. When Sue suggested that the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in the Rocky Mountains along the Alberta-Montana border might be a good spot, I jumped at the chance! We started out with three days in Waterton Lakes National Park on the Canadian side of the border (detailed in my page of the same name) and finished with four more days in Glacier National Park, Montana. This page describes our thoughts on Glacier NP and the sights and activities we experienced while touring its many areas. We were extremely fortunate to have the most fabulous weather I have ever seen for the entire three weeks of this visit to western North America, absolutely perfect for hiking the mountains! My 'General' tip has maps showing the location of the Park in North America as well as a detailed park map showing where we drove and stayed during our visit.

Glacier National Park is 1,600 square miles in size (4140 sq. km.) and has numerous mountain peaks in the 9,000-10,000 foot range (2740-3050 m), six of which are taller than 10,000 feet, with Mount Cleveland at the head of the pack at 10,466 feet. The area was formed millions of years ago when tectonic forces pushed the Pacific plate into the North American plate, causing the rocks of the former flat seabed to be pushed up into steep mountains. For thousands of years the area was dominated by the native Blackfeet tribes on the eastern side of the ranges, but white explorers and hunters gradually pushed into the area in the 1800s. The lowest (5215 feet) Rocky Mountain pass in the United States is located on the Park's southern boundary and, although its exact location had long been kept secret by the Blackfeet, it was finally discovered by railroad surveyers in 1889. European diseases which followed the building of the Great Northern Railway through there in 1891-2, combined with the earlier decimation of the great herds of Bison upon which the Blackfeet depended for food, led to to many deaths in the tribes. It was in response to an appeal from an American friend of the tribes that led to the arrival on the scene of George Grinnell, the influential editor of an eastern outdoors magazine. He was so amazed by the beauty of the area and saddened by the plight of the Indians that, in addition to requesting more financial help for the Blackfeet, he lobbied for this land to be declared a National Park. It took a while, but Glacier was finally declared a National Park in 1910.

Chief Mountain is Unmistakable

Following the establishment of Glacier National Park, James Hill, the owner of the Great Northern Railway immediately began to take steps to cash in on this tourist attraction located beside his tracks. He immediately set to work in 1913 building a series of very impressive Lodges and Chalets scattered throughout the Park, similar to what had been done earlier by other railways following the declaration of Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks. The details of his activities developing the park are more fully explained in my 'Accommodations' tips, because we ended up staying in some of them.

As we were approaching Glacier National Park from Canada, the most striking mountain we saw was 9080-foot (2770-m) Chief Mountain, located just a few miles south of the Canadian border and standing alone right at the edge of the Prairies. It was an impressive looking start to the wonders of Glacier!

This photo gives a wider viewpoint, with the Sherburne Peak range to the left of Chief Mountain, at the entrance to Saint Mary Lake and one of the most scenic drives in America, the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Fantastic scenery and relatively remote
  • In a nutshell:With sunny weather, this is an amazing place to experience!
  • Last visit to Glacier National Park: Jul 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (43)

Comments (46)

  • Jan 21, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    Beautiful photographs, how talented you are. Would you recommend Rising Sun over Apgar? I have booked 3 nites there in Apgar and 5 in Many Glacier. Wondering what to do.

  • Aug 30, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    Hi. I actually have a photograph of your same cabin at Rising Sun, then known as East Glacier Camp, taken on July 30, 1941, the first year the park was open. I can post it or send it to you if you want.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 23, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Fine photos and tips! I enjoyed your hiking tips particularly. I'm glad to learn that Amtrak continues to serve the park in the tradition of Louis Hill and the Great Northern Railway. I never realized there was also a Northern (and Triple) Divide.

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    May 2, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    What a great tourist destination with so much natural beauty especially mountains, glaciers, vegetation and lakes. Lake McDonald and McDonald Creek certainly look amazing from your photos. Thanks for your virtual tour with stunning photographs! ~ho & pang

  • swimfast's Profile Photo
    Sep 2, 2009 at 11:06 AM

    We're planning our first trip to Glacier 9/7-11. Your tips and dialog are invaluable. Many thanks from a too hot Texan who's looking for some cool.

  • junecorlett's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2009 at 7:01 AM

    A pretty and interesting place.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Mar 10, 2009 at 1:58 AM

    We were so disappointed that the Going to the Sun road was still closed when we visited. The Waterfall is quite impressive. Your photos are lovely.

  • robertgaz's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2008 at 8:08 PM

    It seems that the sun shone brightly on your Rocky sojourn :~)

  • PinkFloydActuary's Profile Photo
    Aug 26, 2008 at 7:57 PM

    Hi, Glenn - have fun in SD. I just got back from Glacier, and your tips (esp. the one on Logan Pass) totally helped map out my two days!

  • Jul 8, 2008 at 1:58 PM

    Glenn, I am envious. Your trek over the continental divide was spectacular. I bet it was even more stunning in real life.


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