The Ultimate Guide to Glacier & Waterton Lake National Parks

Glacier National Park remains my favorite national park for a number of reasons.  The main reason is that everywhere you go looks like you feel through the rabbit-hole in Alice in Wonderland.  The mountains, the waterfalls, the lakes, and especially the sunsets make up an incredible stay at Glacier and Waterton Lake National Parks. There are a number of things to do in Glacier National Park including taking a drive down the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, watching the sunset at Lake McDonald, or spotting a wild mountain goat.  Here are my favorite things to do in Glacier and Waterton Lake National Parks:

Things to Do in Glacier National Park:

Small Hikes/Iconic Viewpoints:

Going-to-the-Sun Road

The shuttle system in Glacier provides two-way service along Going-to-the-Sun Road between Apgar Visitor Center and St. Mary Visitor Center.

This 50 mile road is full of stunning and scenic views that will require you to pull over many times to take it all in. Don’t worry, there are plenty of picnic table spots to enjoy your lunch with a spectacular view.

Lake McDonald

I loved watching the sunset here.  The vivid sunset colors reflecting in the water absolutely took my breath away. If you choose to visit during the day, there are a variety of hiking and bike trails.

Shop my camping style:

Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail

.7mi accessible trail

A short walk around on a boardwalk will take you on an incredible forest full of giant Cedars.

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•stop & smell the cedars•

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St. Mary Lake

Stop at one of the turnouts and walk to the shore of the lake to get some breathtaking views of the mountains reflecting in the lake.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Banff National Park

Jackson Glacier Overlook

It’s a sad truth that someday in the near future there will be no more glaciers in Glacier National Park… Make sure to stop and check out this stunning view of the glaciers on the mountains.

Bigger Hikes:

Hidden Lake Overlook

1.4 mi, 460 ft elevation, *Additional 1.2 miles further to Hidden Lake
This trail starts from the Logan Pass Visitor Center and is one of my favorite hikes in Glacier.  There is a great view of wildflowers, mountains, and the hidden lake.  We also saw a bunch of mountain goats on the trail!

Avalanche Lake

2.3 mi, 500 ft elevation

This rewarding hike takes your through a mountain range with waterfalls and is one of my favorite things to do in Glacier National Park.  It’s also another great spot to spot a wild animal.

Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint

5.3 mi, 1,600 ft elevation

Rated the number one thing to do in Glacier National Park, this hike is not for the faint-hearted but will reward you with some pretty incredible views.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Yellowstone National Park

Things to Do in Waterton Lakes National Park:

Small Hikes/Iconic Viewpoints:

Red Rock Canyon

.4 mi, 1.2 mi to Blakiston Falls

This short hike will take you to a beautiful view of colorful rocks.

Cameron Lake

A definite iconic viewpoint in Waterton Lake National Park.  A breathtaking view of the majestic mountains.

Bigger Hikes:

Crypt Lake Trail

This 10.8-mile strenuous round trip hike takes you to a desolated turquoise lake.  A definite thing to do in Waterton Lake if you have a full-day and are up for a challenge.

Where to Camp:

Glacier:

Avalanche Creek Campground:

87 first come, first serve sites, open June 16th through September 17th, $20.00 per night, flush toilets

Apgar Campground:

192 first come, first serve sites, open April 28th through October 9th,  $20.00 per night, flush toilets

Waterton:

Belly River Campground

24 first come, first served primitive unserviced sites, open May-end of summer, $15.70 per night

I hope you enjoy your visit to these parks as much as I do.  There are so many things to do in Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park.  Let me know your favorite part of the park in the comments below!

 

Happy travels,

Leslie x

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