things to do in the spring
Spring is the park's quiet, undiscovered season. It's a time of wildflowers, wildlife and rushing waterfalls. As the snow melts, the rivers get flowing. Baby animals are emerging, birds are singing and things are greening up. The spring awakening is an incredible time to visit Glacier National Park.
Discover some of the West's best highways, byways, backroads and small towns by motorcycling from Glacier Country to Yellowstone Country. Plan your trip with a free Montana Motorcycle Guide.
Bicyclists are drawn to the park's famously scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road in the springtime as they've got early access before it opens to vehicular traffic. If you're going to put a bike ride on your bucket list, this is it. Rent an eBike from Glacier Guides for a little extra boost. Also check out Camas Road, and if you've got small children in tow, pedal the Apgar Bike Path.
You can also hike the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and many other places in the park. Trails at lower elevations and around the edges of the park are usually clear of snowpack by the end of April. Check out the National Park Service's Trail and Area Closings and Postings or check with a visitor center, ranger station or park headquarters for the most current information. Popular spring hikes include the Apgar Lookout, Lake McDonald's West Shore, Fish Creek Trail, Trail of the Cedars, Johns Lake Loop, McDonald Creek, Beaver Pond Loop from the historic ranger station, St. Mary-Virginia Falls and the Red Eagle trail. Hikers eager to get into the backcountry for a longer trek should also stick to lower elevations this time of year, like the Belly River Valley. Backcountry camping permits are required. Spring Hiking Tip: Trails can still be snow covered and muddy this time of year! Plan accordingly.
Runoff is raging in the springtime, and outfitters are readying for whitewater adventures! The Middle Fork of the Flathead River is a popular "Wild & Scenic" springtime destination. Book a trip with one of our expert rafting guides.
You can camp in the park year-round at Apgar and St. Mary Campgrounds. Apgar Campground is on the west side of the park and St. Mary Campground is just inside the park’s east boundary in St. Mary. Know before you go: Some campgrounds require reservations and some are first-come, first-served. Plan ahead. Did you know? Glacier National Park is a Dark Skies Park, and you’re more likely to see the northern lights this time of year. Add stargazing to your itinerary.
Spring means wildlife is out and about after the quietude of winter, waterfalls are rushing and wildflowers are beginning to emerge at lower elevations. Hiking and biking the park allows you to take advantage of all three of these springtime wonders.
There's much to explore beyond the park in the charming small towns that make up the Glacier National Park Surrounding Area. For comfortable lodging, fun to fine eateries, and western events, consider making one of these towns your home base for springtime exploration in Glacier National Park.
You’ll find Glacier National Park’s adventure central in the tiny town of West Glacier. Nearby Apgar Village provides stunning views and access to early-season hiking around Lake McDonald. Just 15 minutes outside the west entrance to the park, Columbia Falls makes a great home base for park exploration. Hit up this charming Montana town for shopping, dining, and some local Montana flavor at Backslope Brewing. The local golf course opens when the snow melts. Cedar Creek Lodge is open year-round and so are their pool and hot tub! Coram’s Glacier Distilling Company offers small-batch alpine whiskeys and spirits crafted from glacial waters and pure passion, plus you’ll find plenty of lodging options—including canvas tents, cabins and lodges—in the area. Some lodging is seasonal so please call ahead. Nearby Hungry Horse is also home to quaint mom-and-pop shops with plenty of huckleberry treats, and you’ll find a good night’s rest at the Historic Tamarack Lodge + Cabins. It’s affordable, open year-round and close to the park.
On the park’s east side, the towns that make up the Blackfeet Indian Reservation offer a chance to immerse yourself in the heritage of the Blackfeet Nation. Explore American Indian history and culture in Browning 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 good fun. East Glacier Park offers access to the early-season amenities you need for the perfect spring adventure in Glacier National Park and idyllic lodging at Summit Mountain Lodge and Glacier Park Lodge. At the east entrance to the park and the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the community of St. Mary is a prime starting point for exploring the east side of the park. One of the largest lakes in the park, St. Mary offers incredible views of stunning mountain peaks.
The tiny community of Polebridge is a 27-mile drive from West Glacier on a primarily dirt road, and it’s less than a mile from the northwest entrance to Glacier National Park—from which you can access Bowman and Kintla Lakes. This little spot on the map makes for a uniquely awesome springtime getaway. Don’t miss the world-famous Polebridge Mercantile, serving up fresh baked goods seasonally beginning in April. Know before you go: Check road conditions before heading out in the early springtime. Also note that there is no access to the Going-to-the-Sun Road from this area.
Self-sufficiency is key when you're visiting the park in the springtime, especially in early spring. Though the park is open all year long, very few services are open in the park before mid to late May. When visiting the park this time of year, it's best to make one of the charming communities just outside the park your basecamp for park exploration. Bonus: Shoulder season lodging prices are in effect this time of year! Remember to plan ahead, travel and recreate responsibly and leave no trace.
Check the National Park Service for more information about visiting Glacier National Park in the spring.
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We're in love with life on the lake. #RecreateResponsibly #PolsonMT #GlacierMT https://t.co/njoUohTeXH