Discover the best of Glacier National Park: hiking, skiing, biking, and taking in the views.
Rugged, wild, and incredibly scenic, this five-day trip is filled with only-in-Montana experiences. Travel Glacier National Park’s legendary Going-to-the-Sun Road. Take a ranger-led tour to see the park’s namesake glaciers. Raft or fish untamed waters. And chow down on a hearty steak supper or sleep in a restored railroad car.
The Route: Kalispell > U.S. 93 > Whitefish > MT-40 > U.S. 2E > Glacier Route 1 Going-to-the-Sun Road > St. Mary > U.S. 89 toward Babb > Many Glacier Road to Many Glacier > backtrack on Many Glacier Road to U.S. 89 and back to St. Mary > MT-49 > Two Medicine Road to Two Medicine Lake > backtrack to MT-49 > East Glacier > U.S. 2W > MT-206 > MT-35 > Kalispell
Total Distance: approximately 265 miles
Gateway Airport: Glacier Park International Airport, Kalispell
Pre-register for a wildlife photography workshop at Kalispell’s Triple “D” Game Farm, a safe place to capture images of wolves, grizzly bears, mountain lions, and other native Montana animals. Or, hike in Lone Pine State Park for far-as-the-eye-can-see views of Kalispell, the Flathead River and Flathead Lake, and the Swan Mountain range. Explore the charming main street of Kalispell before turning in for the night.
There’s so much to see in Glacier National Park that you’ll need to spend at least two days there. Begin by hiking the Highline Trail (for alpine views and possible wildlife sightings) or the Iceberg Lake Trail, which leads to a teal-blue lake holding small icebergs most of the summer. To stay close to the park, spend the night in West Glacier.
On your second Glacier day, drive the epic Going-to-the-Sun Road (partially closed mid-September through early June) through the heart of the park and over 6,646-foot Logan Pass. Spend the night on the east side of the park in the town of St. Mary.
On the eastern side of the park, take a detour to Browning and the Museum of the Plains Indian. Watch American Indian artists demonstrate authentic crafts, including weaving with porcupine quills. Spend the night in a refurbished railcar at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex.
Whitefish Mountain Resort is an all-season destination for adventure. Ride the lifts to the summit in winter to ski and year round for views of Glacier National Park, the Flathead Valley, the Canadian Rockies, and more. Be sure to spend some time in the city of Whitefish.
Extend your stay with a side trip from Kalispell west on MT-2 to Kootenai Falls, one of the largest free-flowing waterfalls in the northwest. View the 30-foot-high main falls from a swinging bridge. From Libby, take off with Kootenai Aviation for an aerial tour of the Cabinet Mountains. Or, watch for wildlife and visit Libby Dam along the Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway. In winter, deep-powder Turner Mountain Ski Area is a must-ski for experts—60 percent of the runs are black diamond. Spend your night in Troy.
This route was published in National Geographic Traveler magazine. To see more about this route—including interactive maps and additional photos—visit nationalgeographic.com/montana/roadtrips.