When is the best season to visit Glacier National Park? All of them! Although you may think Glacier Park is only accessilby in the summer, don't sell yourself short.
A cold blanket of winter snow in GNP provides a great opportunity to:
- cross-country ski
- ice climb
- photograph inspiring shots
GNP is open every day of the year, but some roads close in Winter, like the majority of Going-To-The-Sun-Road from approximately Sept to June due to heavy snow with minimum to no snowplowing. Backcountry sport enthusiasts are encouraged to check snow and avalanche conditions.
Spring is a wonderful in GNP. New wildflowers and foliage bloom prettier every year, and warmer temperatures melt snow to add roaring, rushing water to waterfalls like Bird Woman and Running Eagle (Trick Falls).
Drivers can beat the summer crowds by visiting before school closes for summer or after Labor Day when summer visitors have returned to school and work.
Families love to visit GNP in the summer so advance planning, reservations, and a lot of patience will make visiting GNP even more enjoyable.
Hikers can stretch their hamstrings on more than 700 miles of trails.
Bicycling, popular throughout summer, continues into late Fall especially when sections of Going-To-The-Sun-Road are closed to vehicles.
Summer drivers in GNP need to be patient with slow traffic because everyone wants to be the one to spot a mountain goat or grizzly – from far, far away, of course!
Arrive early at Visitor Center parking lots, especially Logan and Lake McDonald, to avoid waiting for a space. Once parked, catch a ride on the Red Bus Tour so you can concentrate on amazing scenery and wildlife across Going-To-The-Sun-Road.
Campers have 13 campgrounds and more than 1000 sites to choose from and should check with park officials about any campgrounds possibly closed due to bear activity.
All GNP campgrounds are first-come, first serve, except for St. Mary and Fish Creek which can be reserved online via the National Recreation Reservation Service.
Backcountry camping permits are required and can be reserved online.
Lake lovers can jump on a boat and cruise several GNP sparkling alpine lakes. Don't forget your sunscreen! Cast off from Bowman or Lake McDonald in the West and Two Medicine and Saint Mary Lake in the East.
Anglers don't need a license or permit to fish in GNP but must adhere to fishing regulations available at Visitor Center, Ranger Stations, and online from the National Park Service. Fishing season usually begins near the end of May and continues through November.
Hiking and bicycling remain popular through Fall foliage in GNP, as does horseback riding in designated areas. Get your trail maps and bike rentals at GNP surrounding gateway communities. Remember, dogs must be leashed and no pets are allowed on trails with you.
Visitors need to be increasingly self-reliant since Park services are mostly on a basic maintenance level in late Fall/Winter and most Visitor Centers are only open May through September.
Remember, no matter which season you visit Glacier National Park, weather conditions shift rapidly so be prepared!
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