We're Convinced: Glacier National Park Is the Most Photogenic Place on Earth
Deep in the wilderness of Montana’s Rocky Mountains lies Glacier National Park, a nature junkie’s dream. Comprised of over 700 miles of hiking trails, the photogenic scenery spans all the way to Canada. Even if hiking, canoeing, cycling, and camping are not included in your dream vacation, the views alone are enough to make you want to drop everything and go on a Cheryl Strayed–inspired journey through the gorgeous scenic roads that run through the park. You can satisfy your wanderlust with a bike ride through a winding mountain road, be one with nature on an all-day hike, see the stars like never before from St. Mary Lake, and so much more. If you’re planning on taking one last adventure this summer, Glacier National Park should be at the top of your list. Unsure where to start?
We’ve taken the liberty of mapping out all of the activities you’ll want to take part in at Glacier National Park.
Bike Going-to-the-Sun Road
If you’re comfortable on a bike, then you’ll want to explore this National Historic Landmark by cycling up Going-to-the-Sun Road. The road winds through the mountains for an impressive 50 miles (that’s a bit longer than your average spin class), crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. If you take on this challenge, you’ll be rewarded with views of glaciers, valleys, waterfalls, and wildflowers. However, if you’re not ready to tackle this by bike, you can drive up the road and take in all the same views from the comfort of your car. Just be sure to check the current road status, as the road closes seasonally.
Go for a Hike
Depending on your stamina, you can choose from a multitude of hikes varying in distance and difficulty. If you’re new to hiking or have kids in tow, try hiking Rocky Point for a 1.9-mile hike through the woods with views of nearby creeks and Lake McDonald. For something a little more challenging, take on Florence Falls. This 9.8-mile trail is worth the trek, thanks to a little-known waterfall at the end of the trail, perfect for some much-deserved peace and quiet. And if you’re no stranger to an all-day hike, try the popular Highline Trail, which leads you through a historic backcountry chalet for 11.4 miles, with an elevation gain of 1950 feet.
Take a Hike
See Mount Grinnell
Mount Grinnell reaches an impressive height of 8855 feet and is situated at the center of Glacier National Park. It’s also the star of many photo opportunities found at Wild Goose Island Viewpoint. This lookout provides panoramic views of Mount Grinnell and other surrounding mountains just beyond St. Mary Lake, causing amateur and professional photographers alike to flock to the picturesque site. If you’re looking to get the perfect shot of your adventurous vacation, you’ll definitely want to pull off the main road to capture the views here.
Boat on Lake McDonald
You can rent a boat or take a scenic boat tour on Lake McDonald through Glacier Park Boat Company. See the beautiful views of glacier-topped mountains from a paddleboard, kayak, rowboat, or motorboat. Pro tip: If you’re taking a guided tour instead of renting your own ride, you can grab a drink from the bar in the Lake McDonald Lodge before boarding to help you get your sea legs.
Take In a Starry Night
If you live in a city, chances are that seeing stars like the ones visible in Glacier National Park is a foreign concept. Because of the scarce light pollution in this massive wilderness, the park is one of the best places to go stargazing. Stake out a spot near Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, or Logan Pass to take in an impressive natural spectacle. The best views of the Milky Way can be seen from May through October.
See the Northern Lights
Yes, really—if you time it right, it’s possible to see the northern lights from Glacier National Park due to its northern location. The best places to take in this view are from Lake McDonald and Goat Haunt. The National Parks Service advises that you take a look at the Aurora Forecast before planning a trip if you’re hoping to see the colorful phenomenon. For your best chance of seeing the aurora borealis, look for a KP rating (a measurement of geomagnetic activity) of five or more.
Looking for more adventure inspo? You’ll want to add these six national parks to your bucket list.