Situated in Montana, Glacier National Park offers several hiking and mountain escapes. It’s only a few miles from Canada’s border and has one of the world’s most spectacular drives.
There are over 700 hiking trails, and one of the park’s most popular attractions is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This is a must-visit for anyone who is looking to experience the outdoors.
In this article, we will highlight the best time to visit Glacier National Park!
Where Is Glacier National Park?
Located in north-western Montana, Glacier National Park spans over a million acres, and it’s bordered by Canada’s Alberta and British Columbia provinces.
The park features over a thousand different plants and over a hundred lakes. It’s also near two mountain ranges.
Before the park was established, it had been inhabited by Native Americans. The area was previously occupied by the Blackfeet, who gave the land to the federal government in 1895. The national park was then incorporated using the treaty lands.
The park was first established on May 11, 1910. In the next couple of years after its establishment, the Great Northern Railway built several luxury hotels and chalets in the area.
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Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park to Avoid the Crowds
During the 2021 summer, around three million people visited the park. Most of them chose to stay in the summer, as the Going-to-the-sun Road is still open.
However, if you’re planning on visiting the park during the off-season to avoid the crowd, you might want to take advantage of the reduced entrance fee.
The park’s fall colors can be seen in October, though the Going-to-the-sun Road’s sections will start to close in mid-October.
During the winter season, cross-country skiers and snowboarders can access the road. Spring is Glacier National Park’s quiet season.
The park’s hiking trails will also reopen following the winter season. According to the park’s official website, the trails near the park’s western boundary tend to be snow-free quicker than those in the middle or eastern portions of the park.
So, if you’re not a fan of crowds, the best time to visit Glacier National Park is during the spring.
Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park for the Wildlife
Since it was first established, the park has been a refuge for various animals. These include grizzly bears, elks, mountain goats, moose, and wolves.
The fall season is usually the best time to see any wildlife in Glacier National Park, as it is generally quiet.
Although it’s commonly considered the best place to see a grizzly bear, it’s essential to be careful while visiting the park.
To avoid getting too close to the bear, stay at least 300 feet away from it and other wildlife. So, if you’re coming to the park to see the wildlife, the best time to visit Glacier National Park is during the fall season.
Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park for the Scenery
One of the best times to visit Glacier National Park is during the summer, as it offers plenty of opportunities for photo ops.
During this period, you can see fields of flowers that feature mountain backgrounds, such as purple fleabanes, pink monkeyflower blossoms, and yellow lilies. In addition, Logan Pass is a great starting point for wildflower hunting.
If you’re planning to take photos of waterfalls, then the best time to visit the park is during spring. During this period, the water is flowing, and the sky is clear. You can also capture the night sky and the glaciers during this season.
Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park for Its Warm Weather
The weather in Glacier National Park can change quickly due to its mountainous terrain.
The summer season is your best bet if you’re planning to visit the park when the weather is warm. The weather is generally mild, and most areas are accessible during these months.
Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park (For the Going-To-The-Sun Road)
One of the most popular attractions in the park is the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which connects the west and east sides of the park.
If you’re planning on visiting the park for only one day, take the time to explore the various areas along this route. Some of the highlights of this road include Logan Pass, Lake McDonald, and Jackson Glacier.
The route takes you through the Continental Divide and the high-elevation Logan Pass. Due to its elevation, parts of the road get covered in snow during the winter and spring.
If you want to experience the entire route, start planning your trip around July and October. July and August are the best times to visit the park for camping.
Worst Time to Visit Glacier National Park
Although the summer is busier than the winter season in Glacier National Park, certain activities, such as driving the Going-to-the-sun Road, are not allowed during the winter.
So unless you’re planning on exploring on skis, you might want to avoid this route altogether.
Cheapest Time to Visit Glacier National Park
Getting passes to the national park during the winter usually decreases your trip’s cost. For instance, a seven-day pass for a private vehicle costs $35, but it goes down to $25 during the winter season.
In addition to a pass, a reservation must be made for the vehicle to travel on the Going-to-the-sun Road.
The park noted that this route is only accessible from May 27 to September 11, 2022.
It’s also essential to book your accommodations and dining options in advance to ensure that you have the best possible experience during your visit to the park.
The park has various accommodations, such as motels, historic lodges, and wilderness campsites.
Seasons in Glacier National Park
We’ll highlight the different seasons and their impact on Glacier National Park.
Summer in Glacier National Park
Various activities and places in Glacier National Park change with the seasons. The weather can also vary, and the multiple challenges of traveling through the park can be handled with proper planning and preparation.
The best time to visit Glacier National Park is during the summer season, which is typically from July and August. Several activities are popular in the area, such as camping, backpacking, fishing, and hiking.
During the evening, the temperature in the park can drop to around 30 degrees, which allows guests to enjoy the night sky.
Spring in Glacier National Park
The spring season in Glacier National Park usually begins in May and ends in July. During this period, fewer people visit the park, allowing more opportunities to explore the park’s natural beauty.
The park’s various waterfalls also start to flow during the spring. Then, as the weather warms up, wildlife in the park becomes more active.
Although it’s an excellent time to visit Glacier National Park during the spring, specific facilities, such as campsites and lodging, don’t usually open until late June.
In addition, some of the restaurants and other establishments in the area, such as the Going-to-the-Sun Road, don’t usually open until Memorial Day weekend.
Winter in Glacier National Park
The weather in Glacier National Park can vary depending on the region. During the winter, the temperature can drop to around 30 degrees, and the area experiences avalanche conditions.
Road closures and other issues can also occur in the area due to the weather. Despite these challenges, the park offers numerous rewards to its visitors.
Although there are only a few campsites and lodging facilities in the park during the winter, the surrounding communities often welcome visitors at reduced rates.
Free winter camping is available at the Apgar and St. Mary campsites. In addition to winter activities, numerous other activities, such as cross-country skiing, are popular in the area.
Fall in Glacier National Park
It’s always a good idea to visit the park during the fall season. Although the crowds usually decrease after Labor Day, the high temperatures and the beautiful autumn weather can make this season a great time to visit.
In addition, some of the park’s hiking trails are even more beautiful during this time of year due to the presence of golden larches.
Some park facilities, such as restaurants and lodging establishments, close during the fall. As a result, fewer people visit the park, and resources become scarce.
Due to the weather, some park roads, such as the Going-to-the-Sun Road, become unusable by the third Monday in October.
Best Time for Hiking in Glacier National Park
The best hiking trails in the park are located in areas accessible through high-elevation mountain passes.
During the summer season, these trails are snow-free. The full accessibility of the trails makes summer the ideal time to visit Glacier National Park. Temperatures in the region are also near perfect.
Some of the park’s most popular backpacking locations, such as the Ptarmigan Tunnel and the Indian Pass, are still not accessible due to the weather.
Logan Pass, on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, is also not accessible until late June or early July due to the weather. This area is known for its hiking trails, such as the Hidden Lake and the Highline Trail.
Although the shoulder seasons are not as busy as the summer, there are still plenty of hiking trails accessible during the spring and autumn.
These trails, such as Hidden Lake, are more accessible during this period due to the cooler temperatures.
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Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park
For many people, the best time of year to visit Glacier National Park is in the summer season. People flock to the park to raft, fish the rivers, and hike during this period.
They also want to explore its various areas, such as Glacier Park Chalets.
How Much Does It Cost to Visit Glacier National Park?
The average cost of a day in the park is around $102. Factors such as meals and transportation are also considered to produce this figure. The average price of a hotel room in the area is $90.