glacier national park
While Glacier National Park is open year-round, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is only open seasonally and usually closes mid-October. Communities in and just outside of the park are open for business in the fall and have plenty to offer leaf chasers and autumn explorers.
The crowds are gone, and the crisp mountain air has arrived. Grab your favorite flannel and hit the road for some spontaneous autumn adventure. Don’t miss this year’s fleeting tapestry of golden hues against swoon-worthy blue skies and snowcapped peaks.Think: Oktoberfests, seasonal ales, pumpkin-spiced everything, and farmers markets brimming with fall flavors and finds. Plus, miles and miles of golden landscapes. Don’t wait another minute. Book now.
There’s plenty of cozy lodging and fall fun to be had in these Glacier Country communities.
Fifteen minutes from Glacier National Park, autumn is in full swing in Columbia Falls. Explore the park, and then hit up this charming Montana town for shopping, dining, and a seasonal ale at Backslope Brewing. There’s still time to get on the green at the local “must-play” golf course before the snow flies; they’ll be open through mid to late October. If you hurry and make it before the end of September, you can take a zip-line tour above the stunning fall colors, with excellent views of the Flathead River. Cedar Creek Lodge is open year-round and so are their pool and hot tub!
Dubbed “adventure central” for Glacier National Park, West Glacier is still bustling in early fall, and the famous Belton Chalet offers premier park lodging year-round. Nearby Apgar Village provides stunning, autumn views across the largest lake in Glacier National Park—Lake McDonald—and the lake’s pebble beaches are perfect for bundling up under a warm blanket and taking in the magic of the park’s quiet season. The Village Inn at Apgar is open for lodging through October 1.
We’re not ready to get off the water when summer ends, and the Hungry Horse Reservoir offers the perfect vantage point for viewing fall colors from a kayak or canoe. Head into nearby wilderness for fall wildlife viewing, or walk (or bike ride) the paved Gateway to Glacier Trail pedestrian path among autumn’s vibrant hues. Hungry Horse is also home to quaint mom-and-pop shops, friendly lodging and plenty of huckleberry treats.
Autumn is the perfect time to get together with friends and savor small-batch alpine whiskeys and spirits crafted from glacial waters and pure passion. Coram’s Glacier Distilling Company offers just that, plus you’ll find plenty of lodging options—including canvas tents, cabins and lodges—in the area. This is one treasured town to pull over in and stay awhile.
For a fall-foliage float in the cool mountain air, access the west side of Hungry Horse Reservoir from the charming little community of Martin City, just a few minutes' drive from Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest. If you’re looking for late-season remote camping under autumn’s colorful canopy, Martin City is the perfect place.
Located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, East Glacier Park offers not only a chance to explore the park in its quiet, most vibrant season, but a chance to immerse yourself in the heritage of the Blackfeet Nation. You’ll also have access to the late-season amenities you need for the perfect autumn adventure in Glacier National Park.
Explore American Indian history and culture in Browning—situated on the Blackfeet Reservation—at the Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery or the Museum of the Plains Indian. If you’re feeling lucky after a day of park play, head to Glacier Peaks Casino for good food, good cocktails and some of the largest payouts in the state.
As the east entrance to Glacier National Park and the Going-to-the-Sun Road, St. Mary is a prime starting point for exploring the east side of the park (via one of the country’s most breathtaking drives), as well as the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. One of the largest lakes in the park, St. Mary, offers incredible views of stunning mountain peaks, made all the more beautiful by autumn.
Autumn anglers enjoy the quietude and cooler temps that make for excellent fall fishing on Duck Lake in Babb. (Be sure to secure a tribal fishing permit when fishing on Blackfoot Indian Reservation waters.)
The tiny community of Polebridge—less than a mile from Glacier National Park—makes for a uniquely authentic autumn getaway. Cozy up to a campfire, breathe in the crisp mountain air under a sky full of stars, and don’t miss the world-famous Polebridge Mercantile, serving up fresh, warm baked goods all year long.
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