Exploring Glacier National Park, along with Waterton Lakes National Park—collectively the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park—yields indelible memories. Enjoy a two-nation vacation by staying in historic lodges. Plan ahead; you’ll need lodging reservations inside the park a year in advance.

boats Lake McDonald with mountains in the background

Start your trip with a visit to Lake McDonald. Photo © Sean Xu/iStock.

Day 1

Meet Glacier by starting at Lake McDonald. Settle into the historic Lake McDonald Lodge for two nights and enjoy the lake with an hour of paddling, motorboating, or swimming. Dine early in Russell’s Fireside Dining Room in time to take the evening red bus tour to Logan Pass.

Day 2

In the morning, hike Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake to revel in the western forest environment. In the afternoon, don a life jacket for splashing down the Middle Fork of the Flathead River with one of West Glacier’s raft companies. A photographer captures your paddling in frothy Bonecrusher Rapid.

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 3

Get an early departure up Going-to-the-Sun Road to hike through the wildflowers of Preston Park to Siyeh Pass. Take in views of peaks and glaciers, too. Descending eastward on the Sun Road, stop at scenic pullouts and St. Mary Visitor Center. Head to historic Many Glacier Hotel for three nights.

Day 4

In the morning while the water is calm, rent a canoe or kayak to paddle around Swiftcurrent Lake, listening for loons. At noon, saddle up to ride horseback with Swan Mountain Outfitters. Relax on the hotel deck, watch for bears on Mount Altyn, moose in Swiftcurrent Lake, and the sunset over the Continental Divide.

Day 5

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 trail climbs above turquoise Grinnell Lake and along cliffs. Steep switchbacks ascend moraine to overlook Upper Grinnell Lake and the shrinking ice.

gushing waterfall over red rocks backed by trees

Red Rock Falls in Glacier National Park. Photo © Dean Fikar/iStock.

Day 6

Head out early to cross the international border into Waterton. Drive Akamina Parkway to Cameron Lake for a short paddle or lakeshore walk. In the afternoon, drive Red Rock Parkway to tour the interpretive trail around Red Rock Canyon. Settle into a lakeside room in the historic Prince of Wales Hotel and, by surrey bike, explore the Waterton Townsite.

Day 7

Take the Upper Waterton Lake tour boat across the border to Goat Haunt in Glacier. Afterwards, end your week on a high note by climbing Bear’s Hump. The two-nation view takes in the peaks of Waterton and Glacier.

Plan your best trip with this one week itinerary of the top things to do in Montana's Glacier National Park.


Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Glacier National Park.