Exploring Glacier National Park: Where to stay, learn, hike, and drive

Exploring Glacier National Park: Where to stay, learn, hike, and drive

A fellow traveler asked for tips for exploring Glacier National Park with her family (including two kids under 3). Here are my tips and thoughts for an awesome adventure:

STAY

We stayed at the Apgar Campground near Lake McDonald. Your kids will probably enjoy throwing the rocks if it’s too cold to swim. It’s beautiful.

LEARN

The tiny town there, Apgar, is cute (huckleberry ice cream!) and the nature center is worth checking out. This is not the park ranger station/visitor center (which is also definitely worth a visit). The Apgar Nature Center is a little shack in Apgar with tons of hands-on things – build a glacier, pelts, skulls, etc. There are awesome easy bike paths all around there if you’re taking bikes. A ranger had a solar telescope in a parking lot there during the day to check out the sun.

That all to say, one of my favorite things was a dark sky telescope ranger program. It might be late for your kiddos, but we took turns going with our two older kids (if the moon cycle is right while you’re there). I saw Saturn’s rings for the first time and freaked out. It was awesome. They meet isn’t the visitor center parking lot with some pretty humongous telescopes. Here’s the Aug 2019 Ranger Program schedule Lake McDonald – the night sky talk is 4 days every week at 9:30p https://www.nps.gov/…/upload/Final-August-Issue-508.pdf (Make sure you check the site for the current offerings!).

HIKE

Our favorite hike (maybe one of our top 5 from our RV travels) was the hike from Logan Pass to Hidden Lake Overlook. It’s 1.4 mi gradual uphill and our three year old was able to walk the whole way back down by herself (a triumph!). We passed through a field of snow, so the kids were enthralled (feet will get soaked!), and really close to mountain goats. We were able to pulled their shedding hair (fleece?) off the trees up there. We saw a grizzly bear from about 2 miles distance (perfect, IMHO). Gorgeous setting. https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/hikingstmary.htm

DRIVE

We did one day of driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road so that we could stop and take pics and marvel at our own pace. We planned to eat at a diner in St Mary and then drove back for the sunset.

If we had more time, I would have liked to drive all the way to the Many Glacier hotel – I bet that drive and views over a meal would be epic.

The second day we took the free shuttle to Logan Pass to hike. The shuttle only runs through early September until Sept 2 so check to make sure the shuttle is operating (and the road is open!).

Pro tip: the wait for the shuttle is LONG at the Apgar visitor center parking lot, so if your group can handle walking to the Apgar campsite shuttle spot or the Apgar village, you’ll probably get on / off faster.

GET THERE & GET CURRENT INFO

There is so much to see – some of the easy trails were closed when we were there due to bear activity, so I would look at your plan ahead of time but don’t get overwhelmed (there are pages and pages of activities in each section of the park!). When you get there you can talk to a ranger about what makes sense for your group. That Going-to-the-Sun Road though. Amazing.

Now Take Off!

Xo, m

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