Glacier National Park is an amazing place with lakes and mountains carved from Glaciers. The glacial lakes have magnificent colors when the light reflects off of them, and the mountains have glacier waterfalls falling year round. It's the easiest to visit Glacier in the summer when the main road through the park is open, but it's just as stunning in the off-season, but tougher to get around and it takes a lot longer. Here are a few of my favorites from visiting this park, be sure you add them to your list!
Tip: Stay on the east side of the park, especially if you're going off season. Sometimes the "Going to the Sun Road" is closed due to snow and it will tale 2.5 hours to get to the good hikes. If you stay on the east side you'll be closest to these hikes.
1. Hike Grinnell Glacier
Grinnell Glacier hike has stunning views of glacier lakes and waterfalls so breathtaking it feels as if your in a fairytale. Take shuttle boats across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine to knock 3.4 miles off your roundtrip hike (there is a fee, bring cash).
Tip: There are many bears in the area. If you make noise they'll move away from the trails, but if you sneak up and scare them they won't be happy, and you may need to use bear spray.
Trailhead location: Grinnell Glacier Trailhead
Out and back trail: 7.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1840 feet
2. Try Unique Montana Spirits at the Whiskey Barn
At the Whiskey Barn you can try a flight of 5 from a long list of interesting Montana spirits that are hand crafted and hand bottled in house. You can smell the barley when you walk in the door. Glacier Distilling Company is a locally owned and located 7 miles from the west entrance of Glacier National Park. The most unique spirit I tried was the "Mule Kick," a savory and spicy spirt infused with fresh jalapenos, garlic and black peppercorn. This spirit will give your taste buds a kick in the butt, but I think it'd be delicious in a margarita! My favorite spirit was the "Wheatfish," a single-malt whiskey with a nose of honeysuckle and ripe pear from the malted wheat.
3. Hike to Avalanche Lake
Avalanche trail starts alongside the turquoise waters of Avalanche Creek, then continues through a thickly wooded forest. The view once you get there is stunning, with the brilliance of the glacier water and the towering mountains surrounding it. Be sure to pack a rain jacket, the weather can vary by the minute. We had sunshine, rain, and sleet on our hike in June.
Trailhead location: Avalanche Trailhead
Out and back trail: 4.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 730 feet
4. Go off-roading
Rent a UTV from Glacier Ridge Runners. We took Desert Mountain Loop Trail up high through pine tree forests. It was incredible, but terrifying when I wasn't driving because there's a cliff edge as you climb the mountain. If your like me and like to be in charge of your own fate, then rent your own car instead of sharing. Either way, definitely be safe. It's an incredible journey, and very exhilarating if you're an adrenaline junkie like me!
5. Visit Wild Goose Island for the iconic viewpoint
Wild Goose Island viewpoint is this iconic view of the park featuring Saint Mary Lake at 4,484 feet, and the mountain peaks rising high above at up to 8,000 feet. You can see the viewpoint from the road or go slightly off trail and to the left to get to the waters edge for a better view (10 min).
6. Try Huckleberry Everything
The city of Hungry Horse claims fame as the wild huckleberry capital of the West. Huckleberries are wild berries grow only in moist mountain areas. They can't be commercially grown. Berries are hand picked when ripe and processed without artificial colors, flavorings or corn syrup. There so loads of Huckleberry products to try like jams, candy and lip balm. My personal favorites are fresh Huckleberry Pie, and Great Northern Brewing's Wild Huckleberry Lager.
7. Stop at Lake McDonald to marvel at the colorful Stones
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park. Rain or shine, the view is quite beautiful. The shoreline is filled with colorful rocks so we stayed and skipped stones for a while on our way to hike Avalanche Trail.