3 Day Glacier National Park Itinerary

Avnish Singh
12 Min Read

3 Day Glacier National Park Itinerary: Glacier National Park, located in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. With its rugged mountains, stunning glaciers, pristine lakes, and abundant wildlife, it offers an unforgettable experience for every traveler. I’m Avnish Singh, and I’m excited to share with you a comprehensive guide to exploring this breathtaking park over three days. From the best time to visit to where to stay and eat, I’ll cover all the essentials to ensure you have an incredible trip.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Glacier National Park is during the summer months, from late June to early September. During this period, all park facilities and roads, including the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, are open. The weather is pleasant, with daytime temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, making it perfect for hiking and outdoor activities. The wildflowers are in full bloom, and the wildlife is active, providing excellent opportunities for photography and wildlife viewing.

How to Reach Glacier National Park

By Air: The nearest airport is Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in Kalispell, Montana, approximately 30 miles from the park’s west entrance. Several airlines offer direct flights from major cities.

By Car: If you prefer driving, you can access the park via U.S. Highway 2, which runs along the southern boundary. The park has two main entrances: West Glacier (west side) and St. Mary (east side). The drive itself is scenic, offering beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes.

By Train: Amtrak’s Empire Builder line stops at the West Glacier and East Glacier Park stations, providing a unique and relaxing way to reach the park.

Entrance Fees

As of 2024, the entrance fees for Glacier National Park are as follows:

  • Private Vehicle: $35 (7-day pass)
  • Motorcycle: $30 (7-day pass)
  • Individual (on foot, bicycle, etc.): $20 (7-day pass)
  • Annual Park Pass: $70

Now, let’s dive into the detailed itinerary for your three-day adventure in Glacier National Park.

Day 1: West Glacier and Going-to-the-Sun Road

Morning: Arrival and Entry via West Glacier

Start your journey by entering the park through the West Glacier entrance. If you arrived the previous night, stay in one of the nearby accommodations such as the Belton Chalet or the Village Inn at Apgar. These places offer a cozy and comfortable stay with easy access to the park.

Apgar Visitor Center

Your first stop should be the Apgar Visitor Center. Here, you can gather maps, check trail conditions, and get recommendations from the park rangers. It’s a great place to learn about the park’s history, wildlife, and geology.

Lake McDonald

After getting your bearings at the visitor center, head to Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the park. The serene, crystal-clear waters reflecting the surrounding mountains make it a perfect spot for a leisurely morning. Rent a kayak or canoe from the Apgar Village to explore the lake at your own pace.

Lunch: Eddie’s Cafe & Gifts

For lunch, stop by Eddie’s Cafe & Gifts in Apgar Village. This charming spot offers a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and salads, making it an ideal place to refuel before your afternoon adventure.

Afternoon: Going-to-the-Sun Road

The highlight of the day is driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile scenic route that traverses the park from west to east. The road offers breathtaking views of mountains, valleys, and waterfalls. Plan to spend at least 2-3 hours on this drive, with several stops along the way to take in the sights.

Highlights along Going-to-the-Sun Road:

  • Lake McDonald Lodge: A historic lodge that offers a glimpse into the park’s early days.
  • Trail of the Cedars: A short, accessible trail that winds through a beautiful cedar forest.
  • Logan Pass: The highest point on the road, offering stunning views and access to several hiking trails.

Evening: St. Mary Village

End your day in St. Mary Village, located near the east entrance of the park. Check into your accommodation, such as the St. Mary Lodge & Resort, and enjoy dinner at the Snowgoose Grille, known for its delicious local cuisine and beautiful views.

Also Read: Banff Itinerary 5 days

Day 2: Many Glacier and Swiftcurrent Lake

Morning: Many Glacier Valley

Start your second day by heading to the Many Glacier Valley, often referred to as the “Heart of Glacier.” This area is renowned for its spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife. Drive to the Many Glacier Hotel, a historic Swiss-style lodge on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Hiking: Grinnell Glacier Trail

One of the best hikes in the park is the Grinnell Glacier Trail. This 10.3-mile round-trip hike takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the park, including alpine meadows, turquoise lakes, and dramatic glacier views. The trail is moderately challenging, so make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and a camera to capture the stunning vistas.

Lunch: Many Glacier Hotel

After your hike, return to the Many Glacier Hotel for lunch. The hotel’s Ptarmigan Dining Room offers a range of delicious options, from hearty soups and sandwiches to fresh salads and entrees featuring local ingredients.

Afternoon: Swiftcurrent Lake

Spend your afternoon exploring Swiftcurrent Lake. Rent a boat from the Many Glacier Hotel or take a guided boat tour to learn more about the area’s natural history. The lake is also a great spot for fishing, wildlife viewing, or simply relaxing by the shore.

Evening: Back to St. Mary Village

Return to St. Mary Village for the evening. After a long day of hiking and exploring, enjoy a relaxing dinner at the Cattle Baron Supper Club, known for its excellent steaks and cozy atmosphere.

Day 3: Two Medicine and East Glacier Park

Morning: Two Medicine Valley

On your final day, head to the Two Medicine Valley, one of Glacier’s lesser-known but equally beautiful areas. Start your day with a visit to Two Medicine Lake, surrounded by towering peaks and lush forests.

Hiking: Scenic Point Trail

For a shorter but rewarding hike, try the Scenic Point Trail. This 6.2-mile round-trip hike offers panoramic views of the Two Medicine Valley, Lower Two Medicine Lake, and the Great Plains to the east. The trail is moderately strenuous, with a steady climb and some exposed sections, so be prepared with good hiking shoes and plenty of water.

Lunch: Two Medicine General Store

After your hike, grab lunch at the Two Medicine General Store. This historic store offers a selection of sandwiches, snacks, and drinks, perfect for a quick and satisfying meal.

Afternoon: Boat Tour or Relaxation

In the afternoon, consider taking a boat tour on Two Medicine Lake with the Glacier Park Boat Company. These narrated tours provide fascinating insights into the area’s geology, history, and wildlife. Alternatively, if you prefer a more relaxed pace, find a quiet spot by the lake to soak in the natural beauty and reflect on your trip.

Evening: East Glacier Park Village

Conclude your adventure with a visit to East Glacier Park Village. Check into the Glacier Park Lodge, a grand historic hotel with beautiful grounds and comfortable accommodations. Enjoy your final dinner at the Whistle Stop Restaurant, known for its hearty meals and friendly service.

Special Tips for Visiting Glacier National Park

  1. Early Start: Begin your days early to avoid crowds and secure parking at popular trailheads.
  2. Bear Safety: Carry bear spray and know how to use it. Make noise while hiking to avoid surprising wildlife.
  3. Weather Preparedness: Weather can change rapidly in the mountains. Bring layers, rain gear, and a hat.
  4. Hydration and Snacks: Carry plenty of water and high-energy snacks, especially for longer hikes.
  5. Leave No Trace: Follow Leave No Trace principles to help preserve the park’s natural beauty for future visitors.
  6. Reservations: During peak season, make reservations for lodging, campgrounds, and boat tours well in advance.

Best Hotels

  1. Belton Chalet: Located near the West Glacier entrance, this historic chalet offers charming rooms and easy access to the park.
  2. Village Inn at Apgar: With stunning views of Lake McDonald, this inn provides a peaceful and scenic stay.
  3. St. Mary Lodge & Resort: Conveniently located near the east entrance, this lodge offers a variety of accommodations and amenities.
  4. Many Glacier Hotel: A Swiss-style lodge with spectacular views of Swiftcurrent Lake and the surrounding mountains.
  5. Glacier Park Lodge: A grand historic hotel in East Glacier Park Village with comfortable rooms and beautiful grounds.

Best Places for Food

  1. Eddie’s Cafe & Gifts: Located in Apgar Village, this cafe offers a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and salads.
  2. Snowgoose Grille: Located in St. Mary Village, this restaurant serves delicious local cuisine with beautiful views.
  3. Ptarmigan Dining Room: Located in the Many Glacier Hotel, offering a range of delicious options.
  4. Cattle Baron Supper Club: Known for its excellent steaks and cozy atmosphere in St. Mary Village.
  5. Whistle Stop Restaurant: Located in East Glacier Park Village, offering hearty meals and friendly service.

Glacier National Park is a true gem, offering a perfect blend of adventure, natural beauty, and tranquility. With this detailed itinerary, you’ll be well-prepared to explore its wonders over three unforgettable days. Enjoy your trip, and remember to respect the park’s pristine environment so that future generations can also experience its magic.

For more detailed information and updates, check out the official Glacier National Park website.

Share this Article
Leave a comment