Glacier National Park, Montana is one reason why it’s one of the most picturesque and popular national parks in America. There’s plenty to see and do in the park, including its stunning hikes, vibrant wildflowers and towering peaks.
If you’re ready for a trip, this is how to spend three days at Glacier National Park.
A 3-day itinerary to Glacier National Park
Glacier is like most national parks in the U.S. and requires planning. You shouldn’t just show up and go. It’s possible to visit the park during shoulder season, but it is not recommended. It’s a smart idea to book accommodations and activities well in advance to get the best out of your trip.
The famous and stunning Going-to-the-Sun Road will also be closed in winter. It is usually closed from October 1 through whenever the snow melts. This can often happen as early summer. This means that there will not be an east-west route through the park from fall to spring. Reservations are required if you plan to visit the park during the summer, when the road is not closed.
You can stay overnight in the park by booking a lodge or camping option. However, reservations are highly recommended for campsites and campgrounds. Although there are some walk-up campsites, most of them fill up by the morning.
When should you go
Not only is Going-to-the-Sun Road closed in winter but many other areas are also closed, even though the park remains open all year. Before you plan your trip, make sure you check the accessibility of any areas, especially if it is May or September.
How do you get around
Glacier can be difficult to transport, so allow yourself enough time and make sure you have a plan B. Parking lots near popular trailheads can be very full so get there early.
You might consider giving up your car and taking the free shuttle bus along Going-to-the-Sun Road. This requires patience and more flexibility, but it may be less stressful than parking.
3 Day Ideas in Glacier National Park
Visit a visitor centre
A visitor center is the best place to start a three-day Glacier National Park itinerary. Here you can learn more about the park’s history, geography, and first nations heritage. A ranger can give you tips and maps, as well as help you plan your trip.
You can use three visitor centers:
Apgar is located near the west entry.
Saint Mary is located at the east entry.
Logan Pass is located in the middle park.
Take a hike (or a few)
A good selection of hikes is a must for any three-day Glacier National Park itinerary. There are many to choose from and they all disappoint. You can access several hiking areas within the park by car, including:
Lake McDonald’s to the west.
Saint Mary to east.
Many Glaciers north of Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Two Medicine is located to the south.
Take a picnic on the waterfront
Take your lunch or order one to-go at one of the lodge restaurants in the park and then head to the lake with a blanket, a cold drink and a blanket. You can hike in to take in the views, or you can park at one of the parking lots near Saint Mary Lake or Lake McDonald.
Participate in a ranger-led program
There will be a program led by a ranger in your area, no matter where you are located. There are usually:
Interactive and educational evening programs.
Native America Speaks programs are led by members of local tribes.
The best thing about the program is that most of them are completely free. The Native America Speaks program is a exception and requires a small fee.
The majority of programs are run from June to September. Schedules that highlight the events during your visit can also be found at ranger stations and visitor centers.
Book a Red Bus Tour
Red Bus tours are a great option if you don’t want your own car or have to park, but don’t have the time to wait for shuttles. They can start on either side depending on the season and go to all major areas. The vehicles with roll-back roofs will provide you with a wealth of information about the park. You should make reservations in advance.
Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road
Don’t miss the chance to drive the entire length of the park if the road is available. Beautiful views, stunning hikes, and a route that is worth writing home about are all waiting for you. If you want to know more, there is an audio and video tour.
If you have the time, you can cycle the entire hilly and winding route, including before motorists open the road. You will need to make a reservation if you plan on driving the road during peak times.
3 Days in Glacier National Park. Recap
You won’t be able to stay in Glacier National Park three days without wondering how. You’ll find plenty to do, including scenic drives, stunning hikes, educational tours, and many other activities.
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