With some of North America’s oldest exposed rock, a landscape created from moving earth, and the carving action of ice, Glacier Park fills one million acres with captivating scenery. Enjoy sinking into iconic Glacier landscapes by camping or staying in lodges, then don your hiking boots, for the best of Glacier’s features are seen up close from trails.
The geologic landscape of Glacier Park is like no other. From ancient, exposed seabed rock to glacial carving, the landscape reveals the tremendous forces that shaped it.
Ancient Seabed Layers
Discover Glacier’s ancient, shallow inland Belt Sea origins by driving Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass. Hike 1.5 miles to Hidden Lake Overlook, examining the rocks alongside the trail. Ripple marks and mud cracks are evidence of the ancient sea that filled and dried up many times.
Drive to Marias Pass to see where geologists discovered the Lewis Overthrust, a shifting of the earth’s plates where the older rock from the Pacific Plate slid over the younger rock from the Continental Plate. Hike to Firebrand Pass to see the older mountains drop to the younger plains as you gain elevation.
Ancient ice age glaciers followed by a smaller, shorter ice age shaped mountains and valleys throughout Glacier Park. Even though Two Medicine no longer has glaciers, you can see their footprints in the U-shaped valley, Pumpelly Pillar arête, and Flinsch Peak horn.
Glacier Park’s ice features are melting. But even though the glaciers are predicted to disappear by 2030, the landscape they shaped will remain.
Blackfoot and Jackson Glaciers
From Going-to-the-Sun Road, Jackson Glacier Overlook and the next two pullouts east offer the best views of glaciers. Use binoculars to scope out the glacial basin across the valley or hike eight miles to get a closer look.
From Sperry Chalet, climb up through tranquil lake shelves and the rock-hewn stairway at Comeau Pass into the scoured basin that houses Sperry Glacier. Follow rock cairns to the overlook of the ice—now reduced to about 200 acres.
Piegan and Sexton Glaciers
From Siyeh Bend on Going-to-the-Sun Road, hike the Siyeh Pass Trail. The route offers views of Piegan Glacier while climbing to the pass and Sexton Glacier while descending.
From Many Glacier Hotel, hop the early hiker shuttle across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine; then climb to Grinnell Glacier. Sit on the shore of the frigid iceberg-filled lake at the toe of the shrinking, fast-melting glacier.
Glacier is one of the most water-filled parks in the nation. Water seems to pour from fissures, snowfields, and glaciers to run into 2,865 miles of streams and pool in 762 lakes.
Take a boat tour on several of the park’s lakes: Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, or St. Mary. In Many Glacier, a double boat ride crosses Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. For quiet paddling, escape up the North Fork to Bowman Lake or Kintla Lake.
To see the distinctive milky turquoise waters of glaciers, hike to Grinnell Lake or Cracker Lake. Backpack to fish for arctic grayling and rainbow trout in Elizabeth Lake or native cutthroat in Red Eagle Lake.
Hike along McDonald Creek to soak up the roaring cascades. Fish the North Fork of the Flathead River. Top off any trip with rafting white water or floating a scenic section of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.
In Waterton Lakes National Park, take a two-nation tour that crosses from Canada into the United States on Waterton Lake. Hike the Waterton Lakeshore Trail to cross the boundary to reach Goat Haunt or hop aboard the International tour boat.
Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Glacier National Park.