Glacier National Park Backcountry, Telemark Skiing

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Backcountry Skiing

Telemark and backcountry skiers seeking solitude find miles of pristine powder to enjoy on their own or in small ski tour groups available in Glacier National Park and surrounding backcountry areas.

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  • Enjoy backcountry skiing near and in Glacier National Park in the Apgar-West Glacier, Lake McDonald-Avalanche, Marias Pass, North Fork, St. Mary, and Two Medicine Valley areas.
  • Rentals and other equipment are available in Glacier National Park area communities and a $50 yearly backcountry camping permit is required for skiers who enjoy backcountry winter camping.


Glacier National Park area is a backcountry skier's paradise, located in northwest Montana. Skiers love to get off the beaten path in late November to early May, weather permitting, and enjoy cross country and telemark skiing at its finest. Originating in Norway, telemark skiing is great for gliding across flat powder as well as traversing snowy inclines.

Where to Go Backcountry Skiing

In Glacier National Park, backcountry skiers should check in with rangers about weather conditions and any closures before signing in at trailhead boxes prior to heading out on ski route areas (most unmarked) including:

  • Apgar – West Glacier: About 10 miles roundtrip, Apgar Lookout is a beautiful but a definite challenging route for beginners.
  • St. Mary: Parking for main trailheads in this area, offering 1 to 8-mile roundtrip trails, is located near the 1913 Ranger Station.
  • North Fork: The ski routes in this area originate at the Polebridge Ranger Station and follow generally unplowed gravel roads.
  • Lake McDonald – Avalanche: This popular ski area offers easy terrain and is located off Going-To-The-Sun Road near the parking and winter road closure area.
  • Two Medicine: Skiing begins about 4 miles north of East Glacier near Two Medicine Road and the Highway 49 junction with 6, 10, or 16-mile roundtrip options.
  • Marias Pass: This is a popular but often windy skiing area features Autumn Creek Trail, a 6-mile roundtrip route near Essex, best for beginners for the first couple miles and advanced skiers for the remainder of the trail.

Rentals & Fees

Backcountry ski equipment and winter survival gear is available at various retailers in the GNP area communities like those listed on this page.

For those skiing and camping inside Glacier National Park’s backcountry, a $50 yearly camping permit (or an approximate $4 per night, per person permit) is required and available at GNP Visitor Centers.

Hire a Guide

Visitors and even locals should consider employing friendly, certified guides and outfitters skilled in winter mountaineering, avalanche safety and first aid listed here to design a custom day, night, or extended ski tour.

With an experienced guide’s technical and equipment advice, skiers can relieve the potential stress of skiing in an unfamiliar and potentially challenging area and compliment the safety and overall fun of a backcountry adventure.