Glacier National Park, The crown jewel of America, is full of amazing sights. McDonald Falls in Flathead County Montana is one of the amazing sight to see.


The waterfalls are located on McDonald Creek, just upstream from the tributary. It’s easily accessible from the Going to the Sun Road, and it’s well worth a stop to take in the sight and hear the roar of the falls. In fact, I’d even say they are the most accessible waterfalls in Glacier National Park.

If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch a glimpse of some wildlife enjoying the creek along with you!

The Party Can’t Start Without Lake McDonald

Waves crashing into the shore.

Being the largest lake in Glacier National Park it is no surprise that Lake McDonald offers a ton of nearby attractions. These include the boat tour, Lake McDonald Lodge, hiking trails, and waterfalls. This doesn’t even include the water sports such as going for a swim, kayaking, camping, and boating.

The Grandest Tributary In All Of Glacier National Park

McDonald Creek tributary is another one of those spots that’s no exception to the list of attractions. Vast mountain peaks litter the background. Facing towards Apgar, Tall pine trees flank the banks of the creek opening up to pristine views on the other side. While looking forward to starting the hike, a waterfall can already be seen giving a glimpse of what’s to come.


McDonald Falls Is More Than Just A Waterfall… Way More

There is a whole river filled with cascading waterfalls to see! Most people just look out their window while driving by, occasionally catching a glimpse of the water.

The best way to explore this area is by car. However, the best course of action is to take advantage of all the parking areas provided so as to not be rushed by traffic.

Below are the places you need to see while in the area. Remember you might only be in Glacier National Park once, so make the most of it!

water photo

None Of This Would Be Possible Without Upper McDonald Creek

Upper McDonald Creek is one of the most popular destinations in Glacier National Park.

The creek runs through some of the most beautiful scenery in the park, and it feeds into the massive Lake McDonald. The real shocker is the amazing views this rushing creek provides. Upper McDonald Creek is a must-see for any visitor to Glacier National Park.


So Where Can I See These Amazing Views?

Located along the west side of Going to the Sun Road coming from Apgar, the creek has a ton of little things to see. Easy access pull-offs show where you need to stop to make the best of your adventure.

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McDonald Falls Is The Panicle Of The Creek

McDonald Falls is a popular waterfall in Glacier National Park. The falls are located on McDonald Creek, which is fed by melting snow and glacier run-off from the nearby mountains.

The creek tumbles over a series of rocks before plunging into a pool at the base of the falls. The layered cascades extend the waterfall giving an amazing effect. This is a great spot for photography and relaxing after a long day of hiking.

just water falling

Where are the falls at?

These are the first set of falls to be seen. A pull-off on the west side of the road will tell where to pull over and enjoy the view.

Sacred Dancing Cascade

Further up creek lies Sacred Dancing Cascade. It is one of the most beautiful and semi-secluded spots in Glacier National Park.

dancing water

A series of small waterfalls, forest, and mountain terrain create a stunning natural backdrop. The bridge used to cross the creek provides an excellent, full view vantage point for taking photos of the scenery.

The parking area is large enough to accommodate several vehicles, making it a convenient spot for a picnic or a short walk.

dancing water

Whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature or to snap some pictures of one of Glacier’s scenic spots, this area is definitely worth a visit.

I need to see them! Where are they at?

After your first stop, this is the next. Just like the other places have, a pull off on the road is provided to let you know exactly where you need to be.

The Best Way To See The Waterfalls…? Take A Hike!

the whole valley

There is no doubt that hiking provides the best views of anything. Being up close and personal gives any natural landscape more allure. The rush while nearing the best parts of the trails just adds to the experience. It is no different for McDonald Creek.

Upper McDonald Creek Trail Takes Care Of All Your McDonald Falls Needs

soft water

Upper McDonald Creek Trail is a 5.6-mile out and back trail located in Glacier National Park. The trail only has 278 feet of elevation gain, making it a relatively easy hike only taking an average hiker 2 hours round trip to complete the trail.

Being that Upper McDonald Creek Trail runs along the river, hikers get a view of all the waterfalls McDonald Creek has to offer. This is a great, leisurely stroll kind of trail that showcases mountain views, trees, waterfalls, wildlife and rapids.

soft water

The great news is the trailhead starts at the south end of McDonald Creek, right by its tributary. Both starting and ending this trail with such magnificent views set this hike apart from a lot of others in the park.

Are pets aloud on the trail?

Unfortunately, there are no pets allowed on this trail, so leave the dogs at home

Watch Out For Wildlife While On The Trail!

The animals of Glacier National Park love the woods and the water. Being the biggest in the park is right there, and the trail is surrounded by forest, the chances of witnessing wildlife are high.

Grizzly sow with cubs

What critters might I see?

Be on the lookout for wildlife such as moose, elk, bears, and even bald eagles. These animals love the lowlands making a sighting that much more prevalent.

moose in the water

Getting To The Falls

There are two ways to get to the falls. One by car, the other being by shuttle. I recommend traveling by car so more time can be spent at each waterfall. Also for the fact, the shuttle does not stop at the falls, and the only view possible is through the window.

The valey from Going to the sun road

Driving By Car

Getting to your destination by car is incredibly easy no matter the way you decide to take it. Really there is only one way to get there and that is via Going to the Sun Road. The big question is are you coming in from the western side or the east side?

Driving around

West side

Coming in through the main entrance is by far the shortest distance to the falls. Just jump on Going to the Sun Road going north and follow it for about 11 miles. Viola! You made it!

East side

This route is very easy also. However, the distance traveled is a lot longer. Coming in at 37 miles, it will take about an hour and a half to reach the falls. However, Going to the Sun Road is filled to the brim with stunning views to take in along the way. With the views and plenty of stops, such as Jackson Glacier Overlook and Logan Pass, your drive will be broken up very nicely.

Riding The Shuttle

St Mary shuttle logan pass

No matter which location you decide to come to, the park shuttle has you covered. Being that the shuttles start at visitor centers, parking is not an issue. The only problem with taking the shuttle is, that the only view of the river you will get is from the window. For this reason, despite the ease of the service, taking a car is the best way to go.

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