Planning Your Time
It takes several days even to begin to skim the surface of Glacier National Park, but in reality many people have only a day to spend here. If that’s the case, structure your day around a drive or shuttle ride on the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road, but be sure to get out of the car for at least one hike (if you stop at Logan Pass, you can hike in an alpine meadow or take a jaunt on the Highline Trail) and to visit the Lake McDonald Lodge.
With a few more days to play around here, you can explore the several distinctive areas of the park: the isolation and big lakes up the North Fork; the forests around Lake McDonald; the comparative spareness of the east side; the incredible closeness of the mountains, the glaciers, and—sometimes—the bears at Many Glacier; and the distinctly Canadian flavor of Waterton Lakes National Park.
Add another day or two and head along the southern edge of the park for a visit to the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. In fact, if you choose to make a winter pilgrimage to Glacier, the Izaak Walton makes a cozy base for several days of cross-country skiing in and around the park.
Longer visits almost invariably mean more hiking, perhaps including a backpacking trip. Visitors who plan far in advance (or those lucky last-minute few) may be able to arrange a stay in one of Glacier’s backcountry chalets.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition