Best Time To Visit Glacier National Park | Good & Worst Season Info
Best time to visit Glacier National park: Visitors of all ages and abilities may find something to enjoy in this million-acre national park.
You’ll leave knowing you’ve seen one of the most magnificent locations on the globe, with breathtaking views of glaciers, epic landscapes, furious waterfalls, and sheer cliffs that open up to quiet glacial lakes.
Find out why you should go and when is the ideal time to go next to Glacier National Park.
The Benefits Of Visiting Glacier National Park
- Glacial lakes, breathtaking landscapes, and glaciers
- Hike 700+ miles of trails, ranging from simple to difficult.
- A wide variety of animals to see and take pictures of
- Ranger-led activities with an escorted boat, wildlife, and hiking trips
- Zip lining, skiing, snowboarding, and other activities
You should include Glacier National Park on your bucket list of places to visit. With its varied terrain and breathtaking scenery, this national park in Montana offers some of the most amazing vistas.
The park has innumerable lesser, unidentified glaciers in addition to 26 known glaciers. In the contiguous United States, North Cascades National Park is the only place with more glaciers!
Examine The Surroundings And Enjoy The Views
You’ll fall in love with the sights and enormous landscapes the instant you approach GNP, from the banded mountains to countless glacier formations
- Hanging valleys
- Glacial stairways
- Flowing waterfalls
- Quiet turquoise lakes
- And rocky crevasses
to mention a few. Since there is so much beautiful landscape waiting to be caught, photographers, both amateur and professional, throng to this area.
You may see examples of some of the wonderful shots people have taken while touring the park online by doing a fast search; even inexperienced photographers will produce jaw-dropping images due to the magnificent vistas.
Even the Northern Lights, which dance, may be seen here from the autumn through the spring.
Even if you tend to forget to snap pictures, this place’s breathtaking natural beauty and attractions will leave you with lifetime memories.
Get in contact with nature by hiking or biking the 700+ miles of (easy to tough) trails. It’s one of the greatest parks for families to visit since the pathways are accessible to those with mobility issues and children.
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Animal Encounters Of All Sorts
Glacier National Park has a lot more to offer than just beautiful scenery, despite the fact that the vistas are one of the primary pulls for the millions of tourists that come here each year.
The species that inhabit this huge park with a million acres are varied and distinctive.
Almost a century of unhindered wildlife has been patrolling the grounds ever since the park was established and maintained in 1910.
Bring a decent set of binoculars to safely see some of the most hazardous species!
Within its borders, you have the possibility to see bears, elk, bighorn sheep, lynx, mountain goats, mountain lions, and wolverines, as well as many bird, insect, and amphibian species.
The park often has beavers, bats, and little pikas. This is the place to go if you’re a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys the outdoors and wants to view some of the most varied animals in the United States.
You must fish the many streams of GNP if you want to fulfil your ambitions of capturing a record trout, northern pike, whitefish, or burbot.
You may cast a line here without a fishing licence (with very few exceptions, like fishing Flathead River from park bridges).
Fishing is permitted in lakes year-round, on the ice in the winter, and in other locations from mid-May to the end of November.
Many Experiences And Activities
The famed Going-to-the-Sun Road, which links the east and west sides of the park, offers breathtaking vistas and convenient access through the centre of this sizable national park.
It’s a narrow road that curves around rocky ledges that are steep and treacherous, so it’s not for the timid! Every year, around July, the road opens (depending on the snow melt).
Bring towels and a change of clothing since you’ll get wet and the water is Chilly, and try rafting (no serious rapids) for a wonderful day on the river! For some fun, visit Whitefish Mountain Resort any time of year.
There are mountain bike routes, a ropes course, zip lines, a huge inclination slide, and gondola rides available in the summer. It is a ski resort in the winter, offering snowboarders and skiers plenty of icy fun.
Hang out on the “beaches” of the park’s several lakes, notably Lake McDonald, where you may unwind on the sandy coastline, to help lower your heart rate.
As you start to get hungry, visit the vintage Polebridge Mercantile (constructed in 1914) for a delectable pastry!
Take advantage of the many ranger-led events, accompanied walks, and park tours to learn while getting hands-on experience.
It’s wonderful to explore the park with a knowledgeable guide at your side, who can lead you on educational nature hikes, animal excursions, and boat trips that give you a fresh viewpoint.
You may get maps, information about tours and trails, and guides to enjoying the park as a whole by making a brief stop at one of the visitor centres.
There is obviously a tonne to see, discover, and do here, but when is the ideal time to visit Glacier National Park?
We’ll talk about it next. The following information includes the best time to visit Glacier National Park overall, the greatest time to go on a budget, the least crowded time of year to avoid crowds, and the worst time to travel.
The Ideal Season To Visit Glacier National Park In General
- The ideal time to visit is from June through August.
- Summer is in full swing, and most park roads are open.
- This time of year is the busiest in the park.
The summer months of June through August are often ideal for visiting Glacier National Park.
While the lake is usually extremely cold, the weather is at its warmest, the majority of park roads are open and free of snow and ice, flora and animals are prospering, and tourists are swarming to experience GNP at its best.
The hottest months, with highs in the mid-80s and lows in the 40s, are July and August. The popular Going-to-the-Sun Road opens up to link the east and west sides of the park during the summer.
This makes it simple to go about the park while being surrounded by beautiful scenery.
Families like the local mountain resorts and summertime activities like camping, rafting, fishing, and lounging on the shores of glacial lakes.
The only drawback to visiting Glacier National Park at its busiest is that you almost certainly won’t be alone.
In the summer, everyone flies to the park since it’s the best time to visit. Prepare to leave early each morning—really, before 7 am if you want to grab a parking place at some of the busiest trailheads—and everything will work out.
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When To Visit Glacier National Park For The Cheapest?
- The most affordable months to go are November through April.
- Winter price is now more affordable.
- Trails, roads, buses, and accommodations could be closed
The most affordable seasons to visit Glacier National Park are unquestionably winter and spring, which may be done at any time between November and April.
You’ll save money by paying a lower entrance price while entering the park and avoid paying car registration costs if you go during these cooler months.
During the summer, a 7-day entry to the park typically costs $35 per car. Also, in order to use the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which links the two sides of the park, you must register your car ($2).
But, as the connecting road is blocked in the winter and spring, you may avoid paying the car registration cost by going then. Also, you’ll pay a $25 entrance charge rather than the normal $35.
Camping at GNP is free throughout the winter for intrepid campers who don’t mind the cold – that’s extra money saved for your vacation!
There are several accommodation and motel alternatives nearby outside the park, however, staying within the park is not currently available.
As fewer travellers come to the area in the winter, some hotels reduce their prices. Come in April during National Park Week, when all national parks in the US are free to enter!
By going during National Park Week, you may save your travel costs by roughly $25. At GNP, it becomes chilly in the winter and spring.
The months of November through April are cool at best and cold at worst, with highs in the upper 30s and lows in the mid-20s.
The park’s handy shuttle services, visitor centres, and many trails are closed for the winter during January, which is often the coldest month of the year there.
If you want to ski or snowboard in the resorts in the park, the less expensive winter and spring months are ideal.
Spend a little extra money to come during the late spring or early summer, when the weather is better, and you can access additional trails, the shuttle service, in-park housing, and other amenities.
The Less Congested Season To Visit Glacier National Park
- The least busy months are May and September through October.
- Enjoy fewer people and cooler temperatures.
- A few park amenities are closed for the year.
Go in May or September through October to avoid the busiest times of the year and to take it easy while enjoying the park.
The beginning of summer peak season begins in May, although it is considerably less congested than in June, July, and August.
The peak season ends in September, giving way to a period of warmer weather and less congested trails and roads.
You’ll be treated to a breathtaking show of colour in the shifting leaves if you go in the autumn! In GNP, May temps are usually in the upper 30s with highs in the mid-60s.
If you wait and travel in the early autumn, it is pleasant in September (highs in the low 70s) and cools down in October (mid-50s with nightly lows in the 30s).
Several of the park’s handy amenities stop operating for the year after Labor Day, which falls in early September. In-park lodges, eateries, shops, and stores are included.
In the middle of October, the renowned Going-to-the-Sun Road regularly shuts. Depending on the weather that year, higher-altitude paths and passes could be blocked between May and September-October.
In certain parts of the park, snow and ice may last far into July (some of it leaving trails and roads unusable), so this is not unusual.
Keep an eye on the sky at night if you’re travelling in September or October in case you get to see the Northern Lights.
You’ll have a high chance of viewing the stunning aurora borealis at this time of year since they are most visible in the park from September to April.
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Time To Visit Glacier National Park Is The Worst
- The most difficult period to travel is between December and March.
- Lows of 29°F to 42°F mark the second coldest day of the year.
- Many closures (roads, trails, lodging, shuttles, etc.)
Knowing the worst time to visit Glacier National Park is just as important as determining the ideal time.
The coldest season of the year and often the most difficult to travel through is the months of December through March.
While some people find the dead of winter to be charming, it is undoubtedly more difficult to travel then.
From December until February, when highs start to rise into the mid-thirties, temperatures won’t get above freezing here.
That’s fantastic news for skiers, snowboarders, and fans of snowshoeing, but not so wonderful for hikers, cyclists, and campers.
The months of December and January are also the wettest and snowiest of the year at Glacier National Park, which makes organising outdoor activities a bit more challenging.
The majority of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which links the east and west sides of the park, is among the several roads and trails that are blocked for the full winter season.
Most in-park housing is vacant (except for the ski resorts). During the winter, the park’s eateries and stores are closed, and the free shuttle service isn’t available.
It’s not the ideal time of year to go, but if you’re interested in snow activities, December through March might be a fantastic time to visit GNP.
Knowing when to visit Glacier National Park is the first step in making the most of your vacation, but what else should you bear in mind while there?
To ensure you have the greatest time possible at GNP, consider the following travel advice:
Make Use Of The Shuttle Service
During the spring and summer, GNP offers a free shuttle service along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It’s the easiest and most expedient method to reach the park’s many attractions and monuments.
You may have to wait for the next shuttle if all seats are taken since the buses fill up quickly at this popular time of year for the park.
From around 8 am to 7 pm, shuttles run every 15 to 30 minutes, are wheelchair accessible and include bike racks. On shuttles, no smoking, no open alcohol containers, and no dogs are permitted.
Walk The Less-Used Paths
The busiest routes in the park, particularly in the summer, are those with the top ten trailheads, which include the Highline Trail, Grinnell Glacier, and Avalanche Lake.
For a more peaceful stroll and greater picture chances, explore less-used paths. To avoid the busiest routes during the peak tourist season, get out early, around daybreak.
Before You Go, Check For Seasonal Road Restrictions
Seasonal closures of park roads and trails are required because snow and ice make travel hazardous or difficult.
To find out about current road closures, plough status, and trail conditions for some of the most well-known trails, visit the GNP website or Facebook page before you go.
You may locate other routes or make plans to explore the park’s outskirts if you are aware of restrictions in advance.
When You Arrive, You May Need To Register Your Car?
Visitors must register their vehicle with the Glacier National Park Vehicle Reservation System between the end of May and the middle of September.
From late May to mid-September, only drivers that use the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor or the North Fork Vehicle Registration Zones are required to register and pay the $2 cost.
Learn About The Entrance Prices
While you’re making travel plans, avoid being surprised by unforeseen costs! Glacier National Park entrance fees range from $15 for a single person’s one-time admission in the winter to $35 for a seven-day group ticket in the summer.
To make things easier once you arrive, you may purchase your pass online. Go here for additional information about GNP charges and passes.
Always Put Your Safety first
Even in the summer, hypothermia may develop fast in the chilly waters of Glacier National Park. If you’re trekking near the water’s edge, the swift-moving streams and rivers are a danger.
Other reasons to keep your wits about you when travelling or camping and always prioritise safety include dangerous animals (particularly bears), steep cliffs, and very cold, ice weather in the winter.
What Time Is Ideal To Visit Glacier National Park, Then?
This book has covered a lot of terrains, but nothing compares to the million acres of Glacier National Park. Here’s a brief summary of when to go to wrap it all up!
Best Time To Visit Overall
The months of June through August are often ideal for visiting Glacier National Park. Due to the warm weather and open gates, this is the park’s busiest time of year. Little quantities of snow may be seen.
Nonetheless, the majority of the snow and ice has already melted, making all of the park’s roads and trails accessible.
The greatest time to go camping, rafting, fishing, and hiking is during the summer when the temperature only drops at night.
Cheapest Season To Travel
The cheapest months to travel are typically November through April. In GNP, this encompasses the winter and a portion of the spring. Entrance costs are $10 less (at $25 per vehicle).
Now, there is no charge for car registration, camping is free if you dare to suffer the chilly weather, and you may access the park for free if you visit during National Parks Week in April!
The Least Crowded Time To Visit
The months of May and September through October are the least crowded. Compared to the peak months of June, July, and August, these “shoulder seasons” are less crowded.
There will still be some crowds, but they are little compared to the height of the summer. The moderate climate, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the low 70s, will also be advantageous to you.
Worst Season To Travel
The months of December through March are the worst for visiting Glacier National Park.
Although these are among the least expensive travel seasons, many of the park’s useful amenities, roads, and trails are closed for the season.
due to the scarcity of accommodation (apart from ski resorts) and the closed It may be more difficult to arrange an enjoyable trip here in the dead of winter and the early spring due to a suspended shuttle service and shuttered tourist centres along Going-to-the-Sun Road.
The greatest time to visit Glacier National Park is in the summer, particularly in July and August (the hottest, driest months).
This is a journey that should be on everyone’s bucket list because of the breathtaking vistas of blue glacial lakes with snow-capped peaks in the distance and the exhilarating activities that enable you really feel GNP.