Glacier National Park 6-Day Itinerary: Comprehensive Guide and Must-Visit Attractions

Glacier National Park | Introduction

Glacier National Park, located in northern Montana near the Canadian border, borders Canada's Waterton Lake National Park to the north. The park's stunning mountains, lakes, and waterfalls were carved by ancient glaciers. With over 700 miles of trails, numerous lakes, forests, and mountains, it is a paradise for hikers. The best time to visit is from summer to early fall when the weather is pleasant and ideal for outdoor activities.

The park's most beautiful attractions are its hiking trails. Some trails are long but well worth the effort. If your physical condition allows, be sure to prepare well before setting out.

How to get ready? Check out these on Amazon: trekking pole

How to get ready? Check out these on Amazon: hiking boots

Glacier National Park | Itinerary

Glacier National Park is divided into five main areas: Lake McDonald, Many Glacier, North Fork and Goat Haunt, St. Mary, and Two Medicine. The famous Going-to-the-Sun Road runs through Lake McDonald and St. Mary, with Logan Pass at its highest point, making it the most visited area. Many Glacier in the northeast is also very popular. (Click here for the map).

Given the park's size, it is best to plan for about a week if you visit in summer when the entire park is open. Our itinerary includes six days within the park, plus one evening flying in and one morning flying out, providing a fulfilling experience. Here is the detailed itinerary:

  • Day 0: Evening flight to Glacier National Park Airport, rent a car and stay overnight at West Glacier Motel near the west entrance.
  • Day 1: Enter the west entrance at 5 AM, visit Trail of Cedars and Avalanche Lake, return to Apgar Village at 8 AM to pick up shuttle tickets and rent bear spray, then take the shuttle to Logan Pass to hike Hidden Lake Trail. Return to Lake McDonald in the afternoon. Overnight at Lake McDonald Lodge.
  • Day 2: Take the shuttle to Logan Pass early in the morning, spend most of the day hiking the Highline Trail, return to Lake McDonald for rest. Overnight at Lake McDonald Lodge.
  • Day 3: Drive along the full length of Going-to-the-Sun Road, hike the St. Mary Lake Trail in St. Mary, then spend the afternoon at Two Medicine. Overnight at St. Mary Village near the east entrance.
  • Day 4: Drive to Many Glacier early in the morning, spend most of the day hiking Iceberg Lake, then return to Many Glacier Hotel for rest and lake views. Visit Fishercap Lake in the evening to watch wildlife. Overnight at Many Glacier Hotel.
  • Day 5: Spend the whole day hiking to Grinnell Glacier, then return to Many Glacier Hotel to enjoy the lake views.
  • Day 6: Enjoy the best weather of the trip, check out, and revisit St. Mary Lake's viewpoints. In the afternoon, take a St. Mary Lake boat tour, then drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road towards the west, leaving Glacier National Park. Overnight at Grouse Mountain Lodge.
  • ay 7: Early morning flight at 7 AM.

Flights can be taken to Glacier National Park Airport, which is very close to the park, making for a short drive. The six days spent in the park were very enjoyable, with some places visited twice. The itinerary can be compressed to five days by skipping the boat tour on Day 6 and leaving the park the previous evening. For a four-day itinerary, you could skip the hikes in St. Mary and Two Medicine. For a three-day itinerary, reduce one night in Many Glacier, spend less time at Lake McDonald, or skip Many Glacier entirely and focus on Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Glacier National Park | Transportation

Taking the park's shuttle bus along the Going-to-the-Sun Road is very convenient. The shuttle routes are divided into two segments: the west segment from Apgar Village at the west entrance to Logan Pass, and the east segment from Logan Pass to the St. Mary Visitor Center at the east entrance. Since the road near Logan Pass is narrow and winding, there is a transfer point in each segment where you need to switch from a large bus to a small bus. Thus, traveling from the west entrance to the east entrance requires three transfers. However, these transfer points are all popular scenic spots, so with proper planning, you won't waste much time.

For other areas, driving yourself is more convenient.

Glacier National Park | Accommodations

Glacier National Park covers a vast area, and you can arrange accommodations in 2-3 different regions depending on your itinerary. The lodging options within the park include:

  • Lake McDonald Lodge: Located in the Lake McDonald area, it is a historic lodge with excellent facilities, ideal for exploring the western part of the park.
  • Many Glacier Hotel. Located in the Many Glacier area, this beautifully landscaped property features upscale restaurants and comfortable rooms for longer stays.
  • Swiftcurrent Motor Inn: Also in the Many Glacier area, it is more budget-friendly and conveniently located.
  • St. Mary Village: Located near the east entrance, it is close to the St. Mary and Two Medicine areas, making it a convenient transit point.
  • Grouse Mountain Lodge: Located near the park's west entrance, it offers modern facilities and is perfect for relaxing after the trip.

For accommodations outside the park, it is recommended to stay in the West Glacier area, which is close to the west entrance.

Find a stay in West Glacier:

Glacier National Park | Attractions

Lake McDonald

The Lake McDonald area encompasses the western half of the park, from the west entrance to Trail of the Cedars. This area includes the Apgar Visitor Center and Apgar Village, Lake McDonald Lodge, boat tours, and 12 hiking trails. If you want a quick visit, half a day is sufficient; if you prefer a leisurely tour, exploring more trails or taking a boat tour, plan for 1-2 days. I have more detailed information in this article.

Logan Pass

Logan Pass is the most popular spot in Glacier National Park, located at the highest point of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This road is known as America's most scenic drive. Logan Pass is only open in the summer (late June to October), but its breathtaking views and abundant wildlife attract many visitors. The Hidden Lake Trail and Highline Trail offer spectacular scenery and are very popular. I have more detailed information in this article.

St. Mary

St. Mary is less commercialized and less crowded than the Lake McDonald area in the west, allowing for more focus on the natural beauty of St. Mary Lake. The best viewpoint is Sun Point, and there are three beautiful waterfall trails: Baring Falls, St. Mary Falls, and Virginia Falls. You can easily spend a whole day here. I have detailed information in this article.

Many Glacier

The Many Glacier area is located in the northeast. Although it is farther away, Many Glacier is considered the heart of Glacier National Park due to its active glaciers, abundant wildlife, and the most beautiful hiking trails. Plan for 2-3 days to hike the famous Grinnell Glacier and Iceberg Lake trails. I have more detailed information in this article.

Two Medicine

Two Medicine is located in the southeast and requires driving. During the railway era, this was a major tourist area in Glacier National Park because it provided access to the park's high mountain trails. Today, Two Medicine is ideal for hikers seeking tranquility or visitors wanting to enjoy a leisurely afternoon by the lake. Plan for a half-day visit or camp overnight. I have detailed information in this article.

Further reading

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