The Best of Glacier National Park in One Week

A hiker crosses loose shale stone with an impressive valley vista beyond.

Spending one week in Glacier? Start with the east at Two Medicine. Photo © Becky Lomax.

While Glacier adventures can fill a lifetime, you can taste the best of its wild side in a week. Camp throughout the park to carry your adventure from the sun waking you up to sunset with roasting marshmallows on a fire and even beyond with dark skies affording a star-filled night. If camping isn’t your thing, you can also enjoy this week of outdoor fun by staying in motels or park lodges.

Day 1

Launch your week of adventures early by selecting a campsite in Two Medicine. Settle in, and put on the hiking boots to climb 3.1 miles to Scenic Point, a hike that will put you on top of the world with east views of the plains and countless mountains to the west. You’ll see marmots and perhaps bighorn sheep. After returning to camp, cool down with a swim in Pray Lake. Spend the evening with binoculars watching bears, mountain goats, or bighorn sheep on Rising Wolf ’s slopes, and enjoy the extreme quiet at night.

Day 2

In the morning, hike 5.2 miles to Cobalt Lake. You’ll cross a swinging bridge and see a waterfall en route, and those with extra gumption can climb to Two Medicine Pass for farreaching views. You can cool off once again in the lake before driving north to St. Mary Campground or St. Mary KOA, where you made reservations for three nights.

Day 3

Get an early start for Many Glacier. Head 4.5 miles to Iceberg Lake for the novelty of seeing an ice-laden lake in August. Picnic at the lake while watching mountain goats on the surrounding cliffs. Swim with the icebergs, if you dare. Before departing, stop by the spotting scope in the Swiftcurrent parking lot to see bears.

Day 4

Drive to Canada for a lighter day of fun in Waterton Lakes National Park. Look for wildlife on the Akamina Parkway en route to Cameron Lake for a paddling adventure. Rent a canoe or kayak for an hour to paddle to the south end of the lake on the U.S.-Canadian border and a good place to spot grizzlies. Return to the Waterton Townsite and rent surrey bikes for an hour to pedal to Cameron Falls. Before departing, drive through the bison paddock to see the animals that once populated the area.

Day 5

Head up Going-to-the-Sun Road early to Siyeh Bend to hike 12.8 miles over Piegan Pass to Many Glacier. Marmots, pikas, ptarmigan, bighorn sheep, and bears are frequently seen. From Many Glacier, catch shuttles back to Siyeh Bend. (For a shorter nine-mile hike, go just to Piegan Pass and back). Drive west over Logan Pass to Lake McDonald, where you have reservations at Fish Creek for three nights.

Day 6

Saddle up for a full day trail ride from Lake McDonald Lodge to Sperry Chalet. Tour the forest on horseback as the trail winds around Mount Edwards and climbs through avalanches swaths to reach your destination for lunch and fresh-baked pie. When you return to camp, a dip in the lake will wash the dust off.

Day 7

Go rafting. A full-day trip with any of the raft companies in West Glacier will start you off with a relaxing float on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. After lunch at Lincoln Creek, you’ll hit the white water for a splash-bang ending to your trip, while a photographer captures your paddling through Bonecrusher Rapids.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Glacier National Park.

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