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.