The Best of Glacier National Park: One Week Itinerary

Explore Glacier National Park for indelible memories. This one-week itinerary guides you through the best natural features of the park with visits to beautiful lakes and rivers, wildlife hot spots, and the top hiking trails.

If you’d like to stay in one of the historic lodges inside the park, plan to make reservations 13 months in advance.

tranquil mountain lake scene in glacier national park
Start your trip with a visit to Swiftcurrent Lake. Photo © Dendron/iStock.

Day 1

Wow yourself from the start by heading to historic Many Glacier Hotel for three nights. In the afternoon, rent a canoe or kayak to paddle Swiftcurrent Lake, or walk the trail that circles the lake. Then, feast on dinner in the dining room followed by relaxing on the hotel deck and watching for bears on Mount Altyn, moose in Swiftcurrent Lake, and the sunset over the Continental Divide.

Day 2

Hop the first boat across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine to hike to Grinnell Glacier with a park naturalist for a close-up view of one of the park’s remaining glaciers. The route climbs along cliffs to reach the steep switchbacks ascending the moraine to overlook Upper Grinnell Lake and the shrinking ice. For a shorter hike from the boat, go to turquoise Grinnell Lake instead.

Day 3

From Swiftcurrent, hike to Iceberg Lake and scan the hillsides for wildlife. For a shorter walk, go to Red Rock Falls. In the evening, drive Many Glacier Road to look for wildlife.

Day 4

Get an early departure up Going-to-the-Sun Road, stopping at overlooks and pullouts for photos. Hike to St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls. Skip Logan Pass for now (you’ll be back) and descend the west side to the historic Lake McDonald Lodge for three nights. Dine early in Russell’s Fireside Dining Room in time to take the evening boat tour on Lake McDonald.

car approaching a tunnel through mountain on a cloudy day in Montana
A drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road is an experience in and unto itself. Photo © Teacherdad48/iStock.

Day 5

In the morning, hike Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake to revel in the rainforest environment. In the afternoon, saddle up to ride horseback with Swan Mountain Outfitters.

Day 6

Choose your option for visiting Logan Pass. Drive up early to hike to Hidden Lake Overlook. Ride one of the historic red buses to the pass so you can soak up the scenery. Or depart at 3:30pm to drive to Logan Pass with a picnic dinner to hike to the overlook and stay after dark for stargazing.

lake with rapids winding through forested riverbanks
Ride the rapids of the Flathead River’s Middle Fork to close out your week-long trip. Photo © Ershov Maks/iStock.

Day 7

For your finale, don a life jacket for splashing down the Middle Fork of the Flathead River with one of West Glacier’s raft companies. A photographer will capture you paddling in frothy Bonecrusher Rapid.

Becky Lomax

About the Author

As a professional travel writer, Andrew Hempstead spends as much time as possible on the road, traveling incognito, experiencing the many and varied delights of each destination just as his readers do. He looks forward to spending every second summer at home in the Canadian Rockies, traveling mountain highways and hiking trails, exploring new places, and updating old favorites.

Since the early 1990s, Andrew has authored and updated more than 60 guidebooks, and supplied content for regional and national clients like Expedia and KLM. His photography has appeared in a wide variety of media, ranging from international golf magazines to a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum.
Andrew and his wife, Dianne, own Summerthought Publishing, a Canadian regional publisher of nonfiction books. He is a member of The Diners Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy. Andrew has also spoken on travel writing to a national audience and has contributed to a university-level travel writing textbook. He and his family live in Banff, Alberta.

Becky Lomax was three years old when her parents first took her to stay with friends who worked as rangers at Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. During college, Becky worked two summers in the historic Glacier Park Lodge, an easy hop to Two Medicine. She spent her days off hiking, backpacking, and climbing throughout the park.

After teaching high school writing and speech outside Seattle, she and her husband moved to Whitefish for quick access to Glacier. She worked in the park for a decade as a hiking and backpacking guide, leading many first-time visitors to Gunsight Pass, Fifty Mountain, and Iceberg Lake. She also served on staff at Granite Park Chalet, spotting wolverines and bagging nearby peaks in her off time.

Today, Becky maintains her strong link with Glacier by using her full-time writing career as an excuse to keep hiking in the park. In magazine stories, she lauds the park’s trails, historic lodges, scenic drives, wildlife, and wildflowers. She tags along with biologists in the field to radio-collar bighorn sheep and grizzly bears. She also treks annually to Grinnell Glacier to write about how climate change is melting the park’s ice fields.

Becky serves as the western writer for On the Snow, a website that provides snow reports for ski resorts. She also writes stories for regional newspapers and national magazines such as Smithsonian and Backpacker, and is the author of the bestselling Moon USA National Parks.

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