The Best Things to See and Do in Glacier National Park
Located in Montana’s Rocky Mountains and along the Canadian border, Glacier National Park offers up 1,583 square miles of incredible natural scenery and beauty aplenty. Glacier-carved peaks line the horizon with lakes and waterfalls hidden between lush green valleys. Situated just outside of Glacier National Park is the charming USA resort town, Whitefish which is home to many delicious restaurants and cozy hotels, making it the perfect base to explore the area. With so much to see and do in Glacier National Park, it can be difficult to allocate your time accordingly, which is why we've put together the must-do activities during your stay:
Visit Lake McDonald
Drink in the surreal serenity at the largest lake in Glacier National Park. During the formation of Lake McDonald, glaciers chipped off rocks from the surrounding mountains which, with their varied shades of red and green, formed the famous coloured pebbles that now litter Lake McDonald’s shoreline. These trademark coloured pebbles and the lake’s crystal-clear waters attract travellers from all over the world. The lake’s surface is so still and pristine that it perfectly mirrors the mountains and forest that surrounds the lake. The reflection is so surreal that I experienced vertigo while soaking in the dazzling scene. This lake is one of the most photogenic in the world, so be sure to pack your camera, explore the water's edge, or even kayak across the lake’s smooth surface while you’re there.
Cruise the 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road
This road crosses through Glacier National Park, cutting across the Continental Divide, and takes you through every kind of terrain – from snow-capped mountains and lush cedar forests to fields blossoming with wildflowers. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a narrow two-lane tarmac that sticks incredibly close to the mountain’s edge, but this only adds to the thrill of the drive. In fact, the road winds so near to the surrounding natural beauty that if you drive by the Weeping Wall with your windows down you’ll get splashed by waterfalls. Throughout the drive you’ll be greeted by bighorn sheep, and if you’re lucky, you might spy some other furry locals. Without stopping, the drive takes two hours so I recommend allocating a full day for this drive to allow time for hikes and sightseeing along the way. One must-do hike is the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, which meanders past streams, waterfalls and fields of yellow wildflowers. Once you reach the summit you’ll be rewarded with a picturesque vista of Hidden Lake and rugged mountains scattered across the skyline. Once you’ve returned from this hike, continue driving toward the east side of the glacier until you reach Wild Goose Island Lookout. Here you’ll find a valley cradling a small lake with a tiny island in the middle and mountains looming in the distance. You’ll want your camera for this view, though it won’t do it justice.
Hike Whitefish Mountain Resort
Pack your hiking boots because Whitefish Mountain Resort’s nature-filled hikes are amazing. Across Glacier National Park there are more than 700 miles of hiking trails to choose from, and Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Danny On Trail is one of the most breathtaking. This advanced trail extends 3.8 miles from the village centre to the summit and can take over two hours to complete. It's well worth the time and effort though, offering exquisite vistas of Flathead Valley below, and uninterrupted 360-degree views of Glacier National Park as far-reaching as the Canadian Rockies.
Eat your way through Glacier National Park
So you’ve soaked up the dazzling scenery that Glacier National Park has to offer, and now it’s time to refuel at the regions’ world-class eateries and watering holes. For upmarket fare, head to the Boat Club Lounge to taste a menu inspired by its surroundings, not to mention a beautiful backdrop. This restaurant sits on the edge of Whitefish Lake, so be sure to drop in at sunset to watch the sun fall behind the mountains and paint the lake in pink and orange hues. Opt for a local dish and order the elk meatballs served with huckleberry barbecue glaze, white chocolate parsnip puree and crispy jalapeno dust, and wash it down with a refreshing glass of wine. For a hip and upbeat dining experience head to downtown Whitefish and entertain your senses at Latitude 48. This restaurant has an impressive international wine list and extensive contemporary menu. My top pick is the bone marrow served with lemon shallot confit, grilled toast and aged blue cheese, or for something more zesty, ask for the Vietnamese seafood crepes. If you’re not ready to turn in for the night, pop downstairs to Latitude 48’s Red Room for a cheeky nightcap or two.