You’re not getting any younger, and there is so much left to see. The Crown Jewel of America, Glacier National Park, is calling your name. But one problem… What do I need to add to my Glacier National Park bucket list? There is so much to see. To make your choices easier I’ve collected the top 11 things to see in Glacier National Park, Montana.
It is hard to describe the sheer beauty of Going-to-the-Sun Road. From the sunrises to the surrounding mountains, to the wildlife, this is one of the best parts of Glacier National Park to add to your bucket list.
With over 20 unique spots to look at (a few made it on this list) and plenty of amazing sights in between, Going-to-the-Sun Road is the one thing that must be crossed off the bucket list over everything else.
Take in views from The Loop, Haystack Creek, Heavens Peak, Logan Pass and so much more on this iconic drive.
My Recommendation For Going-to-the-Sun Road
My personal recommendation is to take Going-to-the-Sun Road slow, not only for safety, but to be able to take in all the most scenic drive in America has to offer.
The views are overwhelming and after seems almost like a blur. Stopping for an extra few minutes at all the pull-offs and clearing your mind can help commit the views to memory. Pictures help a ton too!
2. Watch The Best Sunrise In The Park Over Lake McDonald
The crystal clear water reflects the deep pinks and bright oranges dancing on the surface of Lake McDonald. Crisp mountain air seems to revitalize the body, almost like the first cup of coffee on a Monday. Bonus points if you actually have a coffee while watching the sunrise!
My Personal Experience of Lake McDonald Sunrise
Growing up in Michigan, Sunrises on the lake are in my blood. However, a Lake McDonald sunrise hits differently. It’s hard to explain the feeling. All I know is if I had the chance to experience this amazing sight every day, I would.
3. Stay At The Iconic McDonald Lodge
If staying at a historically significant lodge with amazing views and plenty of amenities is your thing, McDonald Lodge is the place to stay.
The lodge offers a gift shop, an in-house restaurant named Russell’s Fireside Dining Room that has some amazing food, and a bar named Lucke’s Lounge with local microbrews and world-class views of Lake McDonald.
4. Have A Picnic At St. Mary Lake
The most famous place to have a picnic in Glacier National Park has to be on Saint Mary Lake. There are a few spots along the lake perfect for a lunch getaway. Sun Point Picnic Area however is perfect for the occasion.
Sun Point has a large open space that is perfect for laying a picnic blanket down and enjoying the awesome day. With St. Mary Lake is the second largest lake in the park, and offering stunning views, this might just be the best picnic your family will ever have!
The Caveat Of A Picnic On Saint Mary Lake
As with anywhere in the park, be wary of bears. These oversized hunting machines have sniffers stronger than your grandma’s old lady perfume and are always on the lookout for food. Now a bear approaching humans is unlikely, but just to be safe be sure to have bear spray on your person in case of such events taking place.
5. Bear Witness To Hidden Lake Overlook
See what I did there? Bear warnings to bear witness, great transition, right? No…just me? Well moving on then.
Hidden Lake Overlook is a must-see in Glacier National Park, Montana. By far this is the most popular trail in the park and must be added to your Glacier National Park bucket list. The views are out of this world and the chances to see wildlife are very high. Not to mention all the wildflowers in bloom throughout the meadows.
Starting behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center, Hidden Lake Overlook has a very well-maintained boardwalk trail that makes the hike easy for anyone.
Hanging Gardens (Bonus Sight!)
The meadows along the trail are home to a wide array of wildflowers and the little streams that accompany them. Depending on the time that you go, different types of flowers will be in full blooms.
Wildlife On The Trail
Being high in elevation, the most viewed animals are mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Other animals such as grizzly bears can be seen here too but not as commonly.
6. Take Photographs Of McDonald Falls
These falls are small in size but big in views. Being, actually, a three-for-one area, McDonald Falls, Sacred Dancing Cascade, and Upper McDonald Creek should all be a part of this bucket list location.
The log-built bridge crossing over from the east side to the west side of McDonald Creek is perfect for pictures of Sacred Dancing Cascade. Particularly portraits or selfies.
The Perfect Photo Opportunity
On the west side of the bridge, the mountain peaks in the background peeking over the trees. This is the perfect spot to take photos. It captures a perfect view of the falls, the mountains, the creek, and the surrounding trees.
7. Kayak Swiftcurrent Lake
The pristine waters of Swiftcurrent Lake are perfect for a kayaking hiatus. The glass-like surface perfectly reflects the surrounding mountains making the scene look very surreal.
To get kayak rentals visit Glacier Park Boat Company. For 2022 single-person kayak rentals are $19.00 per hour. The good news is reservations are coming soon so be on the lookout!
8. Stop And See Jackson Glacier Overlook Before It Melts Away
The 7th largest Glacier in the park is Jackson Glacier, and can easily be seen from Jackson Glacier Overlook. Being in Glacier, it only makes sense to have to see a glacier in its frozen glory be on the bucket list.
Reaching the overlook is very easy as there is a pull-off right on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Be sure to have your camera ready. This glacier is melting fast and is predicted to be gone by 2030. Better get here soon!
A Tip For Avoiding Crowds
The best time to see Jackson Glacier Overlook is during the early morning. people don’t like to get up early. So make some coffee and let’s get going!
9. Drive Past Weeping Wall
The cliffs at Weeping Wall almost seem to cry by the stunning beauty surrounding the area. Being right on Going-to-the-Sun Road, these falls are hard to miss.
Although this is just a small item to add to your bucket list, it is an amazing sight that will leave you wondering how something as crazy as Weeping Wall can even happen.
10. Find Peace and Quiet At Two Medicine Lake
One of the most underrated and least traveled spots in Glacier National Park is The Two Medicine Area, and more specifically Two Medicine Lake. Relaxing here is most definitely one of the top things to do in Glacier National Park.
Due to there not being a ton of major spots to see in these sections of the park, not a ton of people travel out of their way to see this underrated gem. But let me tell ya, the views are no less breathtaking.
Paradise Point would have to be the spot to go when exploring this area. Looking across Two Medicine Lake from this vantage point is Rising Would Mountain, towering way above any other peaks in sight.
My Choice Of Relaxation
Personally, this is for me, one of the best things to do in Glacier National Park. Setting up a hammock with your choice of cold beverage in your hand, it doesn’t get much better than this.
I have to say too if you don’t have a hammock for your national park trips, you are doing it wrong. Being able to chill after a long day of hiking is amazing. The rocking motion is enough to decompress from anyone’s day. My choice of hammock (affiliate link) is just a cheap, lightweight, and easy-to-carry hammock with strong straps. I’ve had mine for 5 years and it still works great. From experience, just don’t get any flying cinders from a fire on it as I did. It will leave little holes.
11. Experience A Part Of The Pacific Northwest On Trail Of The Cedars
This is one of, if not the most unique place to add to your Glacier National Park bucket list. Trail of the Cedars is an easily accessible boardwalk trail that has massive cedar trees. And I mean MASSIVE!
These trees can reach over 100 feet tall and grow to be about 5-7 feet in diameter. It’s truly bewildering looking up at these old-timers. Trail of the Cedars has to be one of the most unique activities I’m Glacier National Park.
A Little Extra Something
On your walk, eventually, you will come across avalanche creek. There is a path that splits off from there that will take you upstream towards Avalanche Lake. Some wild water cascades and an awesome lake view awaits, if you decide to. It is definitely worth the detour to see these neat features.
Bonus: Hike To See A Glacier On Grinnell Glacier Trail
While visiting the park, seeing a glacier up close has to be on the bucket list. Grinnell Glacier Trail has you covered. Spoiler, this is more than just a glacier trail.
So many things can be seen on this trail. Grizzly bears love this area because of its high concentration of huckleberry bushes.
Grinnell Lake is waiting to greet you when the hike-up is complete. Looking over the aqua-ice blue water, Grinnell Glacier can be spotted at the back of the lake.
Try The Huckleberries!!! (Read First!)
Huckleberries are unique to the northern Rocky Mountain region of the United States so why not give them a try?
Well first off, unless you know what you’re looking for, don’t eat random berries. Second, huckleberries need to be ripe for human consumption, otherwise, they are toxic and will cause terrible stomach problems.
The unripe berries are green so knowing they aren’t ripe should be easy. Ripe Huckleberries are deep purple / red in color and look almost like a current. These are safe for human consumption, although they are still bitter in taste.