Best Sunrise Spots In Glacier National Park
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5 Best Sunrise Spots In Glacier National Park

Best Sunrise in Glacier National Park Best Sunrise Spot on Going to the Sun Road Best Sunrise Hikes Most Secluded Best Hotel Sunrise View
Lake Mcdonald Is The Best Sunrise Spot In Glacier National Park Sunrise Heavens Peak Dawn Over Oldman Lake Loan Boat Quartz Lake Sunrise Many Glacier Sunrise Over Swiftcurrent Lake
Lake McDonald Heavens Peak Oldman Lake Quartz Lake Swiftcurrent Lake

Glacier National Park, a gem of Montana’s wilderness, offers some of the most breathtaking sunrise views in the United States. As the first rays of the sun touch the rugged mountain peaks, the sky turns into a canvas of vibrant colors, offering a magical experience.

Choosing the right spot is crucial for those eager to witness this natural spectacle.

So, grab your camera, pack a thermos of coffee, and discover where to witness the most stunning sunrises in Glacier National Park.

Lake McDonald: Best Sunrise Spot in Glacier National Park

On the west side of Glacier, Lake McDonald stands as the best sunrise spot in the park.

The sunrise here is like something out of a painting. As long as the wind is down, you will witness the mirror-like reflections of the morning sky’s oranges and reds on the lake.

The mountains stand tall, guarding the lake, as the sky above transitions from the soft blues of night to the warm glow of dawn.

This moment, where the natural world awakens, serves as a poignant reminder of the untouched beauty that Glacier National Park preserves.1

Hike to Lake McDonald for Sunrise

LocationWest side of Glacier National Park
Best ViewpointApgar Village
Distance (round trip)Right off of parking lot
Elevation GainNone
Start Time for SunriseApproximately 1 hour before sunrise

Why Lake McDonald for Sunrise?

  • Photographic Potential: When the waters of Lake McDonald are calm, it perfectly reflects the changing colors of the dawn sky, offering unparalleled photo opportunities.
  • Solitude: While popular, there shouldn’t be too many people out. Even on days when there are many people, the shoreline is extended, providing ample room.
  • Wildlife Sightings: The morning hours are ideal for observing the park’s wildlife in their natural setting, with the possibility of sighting deer or bears along the lake’s edge.

Tips for a Successful Sunrise at Lake McDonald

  • Check the Weather: Conditions can change rapidly in the park. Clear mornings offer the best sunrise views.
  • Wear Layers: Mornings by the lake can be cool, even in summer. Dressing in layers ensures comfort throughout the experience.
  • Headlamp and Essentials: For those hiking to Apgar Lookout, a headlamp is essential for the early start. Don’t forget water, snacks, and your camera to capture the moment.

Going to the Sun Road

Traversing through the heart of Glacier National Park, Going to the Sun Road is more than just a pathway; it’s a gateway to some of the park’s best sunrises.

As sunrise approaches, this iconic road offers travelers a unique opportunity to experience the sunrise from various vantage points, each presenting spectacular views.

The moment when the sun crests the horizon and bathes the landscape in a soft, golden light is nothing short of magical, revealing the true beauty of Glacier’s rugged terrain.2

Sunrise Journey on Going to the Sun Road

Best ViewpointsLogan Pass, Wild Goose Island Lookout
DistanceVaries by viewpoint
Elevation GainNot applicable; drive-up viewpoints
Start Time for SunriseDepends on location; Logan Pass is highly recommended for early arrivals
DifficultyEasy to access; suitable for all visitors

Why Going to the Sun Road for Sunrise?

  • Diverse Landscapes: The road’s elevation change offers a variety of perspectives on the park’s landscapes, from dense forests to alpine meadows.
  • Iconic Photography: Locations like Wild Goose Island Lookout provide iconic shots with the sun rising over the mountains and reflecting on the lakes below.
  • Accessibility: Unlike hikes that require early starts and strenuous effort, Going to Sun Road allows for comfortable sunrise viewing from the convenience of your vehicle or selected lookouts.

Tips for a Successful Sunrise on Going to the Sun Road

  • Plan Your Spot: Research and choose your sunrise viewing location in advance. Logan Pass and Wild Goose Island are popular for their stunning views.
  • Arrive Early: Parking spots at popular viewpoints can fill quickly, even in the early hours. Arriving early ensures a prime location for the sunrise.
  • Vehicle Prep: Ensure your vehicle is in good condition for the drive, as some road sections can be narrow and winding.
  • Respect Wildlife: Look for wildlife crossing or grazing near the road, especially in the early morning.

Two Medicine Valley

Sitting on the southeastern section of the park, Two Medicine Valley is an amazing place to catch the sunrise.

As one of the least visited sections of Glacier National Park, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone here. Thus, you can take all the pictures you want without the crowds.

Sunrise at Two Medicine Valley

LocationSoutheastern Glacier National Park
Best ViewpointTwo Medicine Lake shoreline
DistanceVaries; short walks to extensive hikes available
Elevation GainDepends on the hike; many flat areas along the lake
Start Time for SunriseArrive about 30 minutes before sunrise to catch the changing colors
DifficultyEasy to moderate, depending on chosen activity

Why Two Medicine Valley for Sunrise?

  • Natural Splendor: The valley’s pristine landscapes, framed by dramatic peaks, offer a peaceful sunrise setting.
  • Photographic Opportunities: The interplay of light and shadow, especially around Two Medicine Lake, provides exceptional conditions for photography.
  • Solitude: Less frequented by tourists, Two Medicine offers quiet reflection and a more personal connection with nature.

Tips for a Successful Sunrise in Two Medicine Valley

  • Explore: Consider a walk along the lake or a hike to a higher viewpoint for a view of dawn over the valley.
  • Wildlife Watching: Early mornings are an excellent time to see wildlife. Look for elk, bears, and plenty of birds.
  • Prepare for the Weather: Mountain mornings can be cool. Dress in layers and bring a coffee to enjoy as the sun rises.
  • Check Access: Some areas may be restricted due to wildlife activity or weather conditions. Verify the latest park updates before heading out.

North Fork

The North Fork area of Glacier National Park is remote and rugged, offering a raw and unfiltered encounter with nature.

Accessible via rough, unpaved roads, this less-traveled park section promises an adventurous journey to those seeking solitude and untouched wilderness.

As the sun rises, the expansive skies of the North Fork area light up in a spectacular array of colors, from deep purples to fiery oranges and pinks.

This vast landscape, with its towering peaks and stunning lakes, including Bowman and Kintla Lakes, becomes a breathtaking canvas for the sunrise, providing an increasingly rare sense of isolation and freedom. 4 5

Sunrise in North Fork

LocationNorthwestern Glacier National Park
Best ViewpointsBowman Lake, Kintla Lake
DistanceVaries; accessible by car with options for short walks or hikes
Elevation GainNot applicable for car access; varies for hikes
Start Time for SunriseArrive about 30-45 minutes before sunrise to experience the changing light
DifficultyEasy access by car; hiking difficulty varies by trail

Why North Fork for Sunrise?

  • Untouched Beauty: The area’s remote nature means fewer visitors and a more pristine environment.
  • Spectacular Vistas: North Fork’s wide, open spaces provide panoramic sunrise views over the park’s northern peaks.
  • Adventure and Solitude: The journey to North Fork is an adventure, leading to a peaceful, solitary sunrise experience.

Tips for a Successful Sunrise in North Fork

  • Vehicle Preparedness: The roads to North Fork are rough and unpaved. Ensure your vehicle is capable of handling these conditions.
  • Early Departure: Given its remoteness, starting your journey early is crucial to catching the sunrise in the best spots.
  • Bear Country Precautions: North Fork is known for its bear activity. Carry bear spray, make noise, and know how to behave if you encounter a bear.
  • Pack Essentials: Bring everything you might need, including water, snacks, and warm clothing, as services are limited in this area.

Many Glacier

The Many Glacier region, located in the northeastern part of Glacier National Park, is a haven for those seeking the dramatic beauty of sunrise amidst the rugged Montana wilderness.

Central to this area is Swiftcurrent Lake, a pristine body of water that perfectly mirrors the surrounding peaks.

As the day begins, the first rays of sunlight touch the mountain tops, cascading golden light down their slopes and across the lake, creating a spectacle of nature’s grandeur. This moment, when the landscape is bathed in the soft glow of dawn, is a profound experience, showcasing the serene yet wild heart of Many Glacier.

Sunrise at Many Glacier & Swiftcurrent Lake

LocationNortheastern Glacier National Park
Best ViewpointSwiftcurrent Lake, in front of Many Glacier Hotel
DistanceAccessible directly by car; short walks for varied perspectives
Elevation GainMinimal; primarily flat around the lake area
Start Time for SunriseArrive 30-45 minutes before sunrise to enjoy the pre-dawn colors
DifficultyEasy; suitable for all ages and fitness levels

Why Many Glacier & Swiftcurrent Lake for Sunrise?

  • Iconic Views: The reflection of the sunrise on Swiftcurrent Lake, with the backdrop of iconic peaks, offers one of the most photographed scenes in Glacier National Park.
  • Accessibility: Easy access to stunning sunrise views, making it perfect for those who prefer a less strenuous morning.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Many Glacier is known for its abundant wildlife, including moose and bears, offering a chance to observe these majestic creatures in the early morning light.

Tips for a Successful Sunrise at Many Glacier & Swiftcurrent Lake

  • Stay Quiet and Patient: Minimizing noise can lead to memorable encounters with wildlife looking for a drink at dawn.
  • Photography Gear: Bring a tripod and use a wide-angle lens to capture the lake’s and mountains’ expansive beauty at dawn.
  • Stay at the Many Glacier Hotel: For the ultimate sunrise experience, consider staying overnight at Many Glacier Hotel. It is just steps away from one of the best sunrise spots in the park, Swiftcurrent Lake.
  • Be Prepared for Crowds: While not as secluded as some other spots, arriving early can help secure a prime viewing location along the lake.


Embarking on a journey to witness the sunrise in Glacier National Park is an experience like no other. Each of the spots we’ve explored – Lake McDonald, Going to the Sun Road, Two Medicine Valley, North Fork, and Many Glacier with Swiftcurrent Lake – offers a unique perspective on the park’s natural beauty. From the reflective waters of Lake McDonald to the panoramic vistas along Going to the Sun Road and the tranquil beauty of Swiftcurrent Lake, these locations provide unforgettable moments for every visitor. Whether you’re a photographer seeking the perfect shot, a nature enthusiast eager to start the day surrounded by wilderness, or simply looking for a peaceful moment to start your day, Glacier National Park’s sunrises are a testament to the park’s majestic beauty. As the day begins, let the first light illuminating the peaks and valleys inspire you to explore, reflect, and appreciate the natural world in its most splendid form.


Where can I watch the sunset in Glacier National Park? For sunsets, Glacier National Park offers equally stunning locations. Many sunrise spots are also fantastic for sunsets, especially Lake McDonald and Going to the Sun Road. Additionally, consider visiting the park’s west side for sunsets, where the sun dips behind the mountains, creating dramatic silhouettes and colorful skies. Apgar Village and the shores of Lake McDonald are particularly popular for their sunset views.

Where is the best view in Glacier National Park? While “best” is subjective and depends on personal preferences, Going to the Sun Road is often cited for offering the most spectacular views in the park. This road takes you through the park’s heart, with access to numerous viewpoints, hiking trails, and diverse landscapes. Logan Pass, situated along this road, provides panoramic views that are hard to beat, encompassing wildflower meadows, rugged mountain peaks, and the chance to spot wildlife.

Can I visit these sunrise spots all year round? Access to some sunrise spots, especially those along Going to the Sun Road, may be limited or closed during winter due to snow and weather conditions. It’s best to check the National Park Service website for Glacier National Park for current road conditions and accessibility information before planning your visit.

Do I need a permit to enter Glacier National Park? Yes, you need to pay an entrance fee. During peak season, a vehicle reservation may also be required for certain park areas, including Going to the Sun Road. Check the official Glacier National Park website for the most current information on fees, reservations, and permits.

This comprehensive guide aims to prepare you for an unforgettable sunrise experience in Glacier National Park. With each location offering a unique glimpse into the park’s natural beauty, your early morning efforts will be rewarded with serene landscapes, wildlife encounters, and the unparalleled peace that comes with the first light of day.

  1. “Apgar Village (U.S. National Park Service).”,
  2. “Going-To-The-Sun Road General Info – Glacier National Park (U.S. National Park Service).”, 2016,
  3. “Two Medicine | Glacier National Park, Montana | Crown of the Continent Geotourism | Travel Planning Guide.”,
  4. “Bowman Lake.”,
  5. “Quartz Lake Loop.”,

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