Solo Traveler Guide to Visiting Glacier National Park Montana

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A trip to Glacier National Park in Montana is on many bucket lists around the globe. In May 2018 I was one of the lucky people who got to experience GNP for a few days.

Initially I only planned two days in Glacier, but I added two more because the weather was so nice. I guess this is my solo travel guide to visiting Glacier National Park, but it’s good info for anyone that wants to spend a day driving through the park or several days exploring and hiking in the Rocky Mountains.

There are lots of things to do in Glacier National park – it’s not just camping and hiking! Many people travel to Glacier to drive Going to the Sun Road – one of the most scenic drives in America.

This post contains compensated links. See my disclosure about affiliate links here

Visiting Glacier National Park guide

Where is Glacier National Park?

Glacier National Park is located in the state of Montana. The park boundary to the north is the Canadian border in Alberta, and Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada.

The two parks became the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park on June 18, 1932 and both parks are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

My visit to Glacier was directly after visiting Yellowstone National Park on Memorial Day long weekend. It took me around 8 hours to drive the 500 mile road trip from Jackson Wyoming but if you stay in West Yellowstone it should only take about 6.5 hours to get to Glacier.

Flying in the closest airport is Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell Montana, 30 miles from the west entrance to the park.

Billings Montana is 375 miles (604 km) from Glacier National Park – about 6 and a half hours driving time.

Calgary Alberta is 180 miles (290 km) from Glacier National Park – about 3 hours driving time plus a border crossing.

Majestic mountain along the Swiftcurrent Lake in East Glacier

Majestic mountain along the Swiftcurrent Lake in East Glacier

Now let’s look at things to do in Glacier National Park and some details to help you learn more about the park and plan your trip.

Facts about Glacier National Park

  1.  Designated as a National Park in 1910
  2.  More than 700 miles of trails to hike
  3. There are 2 wheelchair accessible trails + 1 in progress
  4.  Over 200 named peaks
  5.  Mount Cleveland is the tallest peak at 10,479 feet
  6.  Over 750 lakes
  7. Over 200 named waterfalls
  8.  25 named glaciers (there were 150 back in the 1800’s)
  9.  Over 275 species of birds
  10.  Over 1,000 campsites in 13 campgrounds

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Glacier National Park vacation guide - Rocky Mountains of Montana

Best time to visit Glacier National Park

July through August is peak high season at Glacier so hotels and reservable campgrounds are often fully booked weeks in advance.

Less crowded + good weather: It’s best to visit Glacier in June or late September for fewer crowds and good weather. May and October are also good months to visit Glacier to avoid the crowds but Going to the Sun Road may not be fully open.

Don’t worry there’s plenty of things to see at Glacier even if GTTSR is closed.

Best weather: Warmest weather conditions are during the busiest season of July and August.

Cheapest prices: For the cheapest prices in Glacier you want to hit that sweet spot in between high season and low season. Aim for early to mid-May or September through October.

Waterfall along Hwy 2 in East Glacier - near the Blackfeet Nation sculpture

Waterfall along Hwy 2 in East Glacier – near the Blackfeet Nation sculpture

East and West Glacier


The distance between East Glacier and West Glacier is 56 miles and takes about one hour to drive via Hwy 2.

If you take Going to the Sun Road it takes around 2 to 2.5 hours to get from West Glacier to the St Mary visitor center – same if you take Hwy 2 and Hwy 89.

Grab a handy map of Glacier National Park here – it’s the National Park Service map that you’ll get when you visit the park.

It’s nice to have a map beforehand so you can get familiar with some of the names and locations within park.

Ultimate guide to Glacier National Park USA

Should you stay in West Glacier or East Glacier?


There are pros and cons to both, and it depends on your interests, time of year, and how much time you have to visit the park.

When I visited in late May to early June 2018 all the hotels in East Glacier weren’t open yet and West Glacier was closer for me driving up from Yellowstone.

East Glacier is known for the area called Many Glaciers Valley where it is common to spot wildlife alongside the road. If your main objective is to see wildlife, then East Glacier is probably the best bet.

West Glacier has Apgar, the biggest campground with 194 sites. The campground is located near Apgar Village with a store, visitor center, restaurant, shuttle service, and boat rentals.

There are also more hotels located outside of the park but close enough to drive in daily.

If you are driving from Yellowstone National Park then West Glacier is closer, so that’s what I chose.

Blackfeet Nation sculpture of two riders on horses located at Hwy 2 just outside of Glacier National Park

Blackfeet Nation sculpture of two riders on horses on Hwy 2

Blackfeet Nation

Before the European settlers arrived in Montana the land was home to several Indian tribes. The Blackfeet Nation, with a reservation of over 1.5 million acres, is located adjacent to East Glacier.

Before the area became designated as a national park the Blackfeet enjoyed hunting, fishing, timber, and entry rights to the land.

The US government ruled that after the land became Glacier National Park it was no longer public land and thus the Blackfeet lost their rights to the land.

Read more about indigenous rights and US national parks in this article from the College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana.

At St Mary Visitor Center there is an informative exhibit that shares some of the experiences of the Blackfeet people. You can visit the Blackfeet Nation website for info and their plan to reestablish the bison herds in Montana and the plains region of the United States.

In July and August you can attend events where members of the Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai,and Pend d’Oreille tribes share the culture and history of Native Americans. You can check the schedule here.

Blackfeet Nation sign with 2 buffaloes, an arrow, and eagle feathers - for St Mary (Inside Lake) Paht-ohm-ksi-kim-mii

Blackfeet Nation is among the 10 largest reservations in the United States

Getting around in Glacier

Most people drive to Glacier National Park, but you can get between east and west Glacier without a car.

Shuttle bus

From the NPS website: Due to social distancing requirements in the shuttles, Glacier’s fare-free Visitor Transportation Service on the Going-to-the-Sun Road will not be in operation for the summer 2020 season.

Once you get into Glacier park there is (usually, but not in 2020) a FREE hop-on hop-off shuttle bus along Going to the Sun Road. The shuttle service operates between Apgar Visitor Center and St Mary Visitor Center from July through Labor Day weekend, weather permitting.

Glacier shuttle bus important info

  • Get your map of Glacier Shuttle bus stops here
  • All the shuttle buses are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible
  • Small shuttles seat 12 – 16 people and larger shuttles seat 20+ passengers
  • Shuttle buses routinely get full – you may have to wait for the next one
  • You can bring a stroller if it will fit through the doors of the bus

Glacier National Park Guide to Your Perfect Visit

Historic Red Bus Tours


Leave the driving to your Red Bus Tour guide and enjoy the scenery in Glacier park. Tours operate from both the east and west sides of Glacier National Park (NO RED BUS TOURS IN 2020).

Get more info and book a tour here.

Prices start from $55. The buses have retractable rooftops for the ultimate sightseeing in the Rockies.

  • West Glacier Red Bus Tours operate form May 16 to October 18, 2020
  • East Glacier Red Bus Tours operate from June 8 to September 21, 2020

All of the Red Bus Tour vehicles have been in operation since the 1930’s. Each of the Red buses is estimated to be worth around $250,000 today while the original cost in the thirties was $5,000.

Historic Red Bus Tours at Glacier National Park - all vehicles are from the 1930's

Historic Red Bus Tours at Glacier National Park – all vehicles are from the 1930’s

Bicycling Going to the Sun Road

Biking the GTTSR is considered one of the best bicycle trips in America. During full moons there are plenty of bikers doing the 50 mile (80 km) trip under the lunar illumination.

There is a free bike-shuttle service operating on weekends, from Lake McDonald Lodge to the gate at Avalanche Creek. It operates until the GOTTSR is fully open to vehicles.

Is Going to the Sun Road open?

Last year Going to the Sun Road opened on Sunday June 23, 2019. In 2020 Going to the Sun opened on July 13 to vehicles BUT the east entrance is closed through the 2020 season. So you have to drive out and back this year.

Usually GTTSR is open by late June to early July and stays open until the third week of October.

But that doesn’t mean it will this year!

Remember that the opening and closing dates do not follow a firm schedule.

Mother Nature decides.

Watch this video of snow plowing Going to the Sun Road.

Every year the opening date for Going to the Sun Road is different because it is dependent on the weather and the snow pack. It takes up to 10 weeks to plow the road before opening in spring.

Going to the Sun Road first opened on July 15th 1933

In 1990 the Going to the Sun Road did not open until June 18 and it closed on October 4th. So far that makes 1990 the shortest season ever for GTTSR since opening in 1933.

Earliest opening date: May 16, 1987

Latest opening date: July 13, 2011

Portions of GTTSR are open year round.

Swift Current Lake mountain views are amazing at East Glacier in Montana

Swift Current Lake Rocky Mountain views are amazing at East Glacier

How long does it take to drive GTTSR?

Without stopping it takes around 2 hours minimum to drive the whole 50 miles (80 km) of Going to the Sun Road.

Weather conditions and traffic at Glacier park will impact how long it takes to drive from start to finish.

Is my vehicle too big for GTTSR?

Vehicles including bumper, trailers, etc longer than 21 feet (6.4 m) or wider than 8 ft (2.44 m) including mirrors are prohibited between Avalanche Campground and Rising Sun picnic parking area – that’s about 28 miles (45 km) of the GTTSR.

Any vehicle over 10 feet (3.05 m) in height may have difficulty going west from Logan Pass due to rock formations overhanging the roadway.

Gas up before you get into Glacier Park because there are no gas stations at Glacier National Park. None. Zero. Zilch.

Also note that several of the roadways in Glacier are seasonal.

Download offline Google Maps before you arrive because there is almost no cell phone service in Glacier National Park. You make get Wi-Fi at some of the lodges but don’t count on having cell phone service available in the park.

Bear country means bring bear spray

Not only should you bring bear spray to your trip to Glacier National Park, but you also need to know how to use it properly. And no, the personal defense type of pepper spray is not the same thing as bear spray.

Please watch this informative video to learn how to use bear spray and here’s a longer video from NPS about bear safety.

You can purchase bear spray at Glacier National Park or at many stores near the park. You can’t bring bear spray canisters on an airplane so don’t buy before you fly!

And remember to pack outdoor clothing for a variety of weather conditions.

I always have outdoor clothing gear for various types of weather because it changes rapidly in the mountains. REI is great for outdoor gear and supplies, it’s my go to resource. And they have a very good return policy if the product doesn’t work out for you.

I wear my Prana hiking pants on almost every hiking trip and I wore my REI waterproof raincoat when I hiked Avalanche Lake the first time.

Swiftcurrent Creek in East Glacier

East Glacier’s Swiftcurrent Creek is indeed swift

Glacier National Park hikes

With over 700 miles of trails at Glacier National Park you are most likely going to do some hiking. The trails vary from short and easy nature trails to strenuous multi-day hikes.

Pets are not allowed on the trails or in backcountry areas of the park.

In winter time you can also go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at Glacier.

When you get to the park ask for the Day Hikes brochure – it includes several trail maps and basic trail info. Also ask the park rangers for recommendations on hikes to suit your skill level and desired type of hike.

You can also check the AllTrails app before you get to the park – remember you will likely not have any cell service in the park.

And you may want to grab a copy of Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks before your trip. Also useful is this map of Glacier and Waterton National Parks.

Ultimate guide to Glacier National Park USA

Hiking solo in Glacier National Park

While it’s not advisable to hike alone in bear country, especially in grizzly bear country, but you can always hang around the trailhead parking lot and wait for other hikers to show up.

That’s basically what I did at Glacier when I got up early to hike Avalanche Lake on a rainy day.

Pulling into the parking lot at Trail of Cedars I didn’t see any other cars. I took my time getting my hiking gear organized and putting on my rain jacket.

Then another car pulled up, perfect! I asked the two women if they were hiking Avalanche Trail and they said yes, so I asked if I could tag along.

We were not too far from the trailhead when we saw a group of hikers, parents and their kids. They told us they were about to turn back because they were nervous about bears. Now a group of eight hikers, everyone felt much more comfortable.

When visiting Glacier park alone you can attend ranger led hikes at the park or contact Glacier Guides to arrange for a guided hike anywhere from 1 to 7 days.

Amazing view of the Rocky Mountains and the lake at the summit of Avalanche Lake hike in West Glacier

Amazing view of the Rocky Mountains and the lake at the summit of Avalanche Lake hike in West Glacier

The second time I hiked Avalanche Lake was late in the afternoon on a sunny day. I felt comfortable hiking on my own since there were many other hikers coming back down the trail.

Eventually I met up with another solo hiker at the lake. I asked her if she hiked to the avalanche spot at the other side of the lake and she hadn’t so off we went to hike it together and back down the trail.

We were the last hikers on the trail on the way down, so I was happy to have a hiking partner. Strength in numbers!

Popular day hikes in West Glacier

There are lots of hikes around Lake McDonald, the largest lake in Glacier National Park.

Trail of Cedars – One of the most popular easy hikes in West Glacier is also one of two wheel-chair accessible trails in the park. The trailhead is located at the Avalanche picnic area and it’s one of the shuttle bus stops. Read my full post on Trail of Cedars hike here.

0.7 miles (1.1 km) loop trail

Avalanche Lake – The trailhead is accessed from the Trail of Cedars and it’s a great family hike for all ages. It’s rated as moderate and it’s such a beautiful trail with waterfalls and the amazing views at the summit. Read my full post on Avalanche Lake hike here.

4.6 mile (7.4 km) out and back trail with 500 ft (152 m) gain in elevation

Sperry Chalet – A popular and more strenuous hike at Glacier, Sperry Chalet is rated difficult. The trailhead is accessed across the road from Lake McDonald Lodge.

The Sperry Chalet dining room is open to day hikers during ongoing reconstruction after the Sprague fire destroyed portions of the chalet.

12.3 mile (19.75 km) out and back trail with 3,432 ft (1,046 m) elevation gain.

Large cedar tree at Trail of Cedars hiking trail in West Glacier

Large cedar tree at Trail of Cedars hiking trail in West Glacier

Popular day hikes in East Glacier

Running Eagle Falls – This easy trail leads to a wonderful waterfall. Trailhead is located in between the lakes Two Medicine and Lower Two Medicine.

0.6 miles (1 km) loop trail

Grinnell Glacier – Take the boat across Swiftcurrent Lake and hike to the Grinnell Glacier for exceptional views. This hike is rated moderate. Access the trailhead via the shuttle boat at Many Glacier Hotel.

7.2 miles (11.6 km) out and back trail with 1,600 ft (488 m) elevation gain.

Note: If you do not take the shuttle boat across Swiftcurrent Lake the total hike is 10.5 miles (17 km)

Dawson Pass – Another trailhead that you can access via a boat ride, Dawson Pass is rated difficult. If you hike all the way from the trailhead at Two Medicine Lake add another 3.6 miles to the total hike.

Pay the fee and take the boat across Two Medicine for a shorter version of the hike with same elevation gain.

9.4 mile (15 km) out and back trail with 2,450 ft (747 m) elevation gain.

Beautiful mountain view and a creek along the Swiftcurrent hiking trail in East Glacier MT

Beautiful mountain view and a creek along the Swiftcurrent hiking trail in East Glacier

Wheelchair Accessible trails at Glacier

East Glacier

Running Eagle Falls – This 0.6 mile (1 km) loop trail has a beautiful waterfall. The trailhead is located in between Two Medicine Lake and Lower Two Medicine Lake, about 9 miles (15 km) from East Glacier Park Village.

Swiftcurrent Lake Trail – This trail has an accessible portion that is currently only one-quarter mile long, but the plan is to make the whole trail accessible to visitors.

Running Eagle waterfall is an easy and short hike that is wheelchair accessible at Glacier National Park

Running Eagle waterfall is an easy and short hike that is wheelchair accessible

West Glacier

Trail of the Cedars – This is a 0.7 mi (1.1 km) trail through the cedar forest with beautiful views of Avalanche Creek. Trail of Cedars Trailhead is located on Going to the Sun Road, about 6 miles east of Lake McDonald Lodge.

There is a parking lot but it fills up early in the busy summer season, but you can also take the free shuttle bus (all shuttles are ADA compliant) to Avalanche Picnic Area stop.

Avalanche Creek next to Trail of Cedars Trail which is wheelchair accessible

Avalanche Creek next to Trail of Cedars Trail which is wheelchair accessible

Kayaking and canoeing in Glacier

Bring your own kayak or canoe or rent all your paddling gear at Glacier National Park.

Apgar Village on the shores of Lake McDonald the following boat rentals are available:

  • Canoe
  • Single kayak
  • Double kayak
  • Paddleboard
  • Rowboat
  • 10 hp motorboat

Many Glacier and Two Medicine:

  • Canoe
  • Single Kayak
  • Double Kayak
  • Rowboat

Lake McDonald Lodge:

  • Rowboat
  • 8 hp Motorboat

Boat rentals are available from May 16 to September 7, 2020

Canoeing on Lake McDonald at dusk in Glacier National Park MT

Canoeing on Lake McDonald at dusk in Glacier National Park MT

Boating at Glacier Park

There are 4 locations with boat tours at Glacier National Park:

  • Lake McDonald at Lake McDonald Lodge
  • Swift Current Lake at Many Glacier Hotel
  • St Mary Lake at Rising Sun boat dock
  • Two Medicine Lake boat dock

The boat tour scheduled dates, times, and pricing vary with location – check the Glacier boat tour company website for more info.

If you bring your own boat remember all gas powered boats require both an inspection and 30-day quarantine of the boat and trailer. The reason for the inspection and quarantine is to stop aquatic invasive species from inhabiting the waters.

Boating season at Glacier is from mid-May through October

Lake McDonald boat tour

I took the boat tour on Lake McDonald and enjoyed it, especially due to the guide, Ranger Doug – see below. The man is a story teller with a good sense of humor, and he made the trip both informative and entertaining.

Duration: 1 hour

Scheduled dates: May 16 to September 7, 2020 – check Glacier Park Boat Company for times

Price: $22.75 for adults, $11.00 children age 4 to 12 and FREE for children under 4 years old

Ranger Doug

Born in 1926 in Canada, Ranger Doug tells us he was an illegal immigrant to the United States at the age of 1 year old.

Ranger Doug taught history for 35 years in Whitefish Montana and he clearly loves sharing his knowledge of Glacier National Park.

He’ll be 94 years old in 2020 and if you are lucky you’ll get to meet him or have the pleasure of taking the Lake McDonald boat tour with him.

Here’s an article about Ranger Doug. He has now guided visitors for 58 seasons at Glacier.

Ranger Doug working at Glacier National Park since 1961 - he will be 93 years old in 2019

Ranger Doug working at Glacier National Park since 1961 – he turned 93 years old in 2019

Where to stay in Glacier National Park


There are 13 campgrounds and over 1,000 campsites available in the park. Most of the campgrounds are sold on a first-come first-served basis.

Have a look at the NPS site for all the info on campgrounds including maps, prices, as well as historic fill times so you can get an idea of what your chances are of getting a spot.

These campgrounds at Glacier can be booked in advance – use the above link to book your campsite.

  • Fish Creek
  • Group sites at Apgar
  • Many Glacier
  • St Mary
Tent camping alongside Lake McDonald at Glacier National Park in Montana

Tent camping alongside Lake McDonald at Glacier National Park

Hotels in Glacier National park

There are several hotels and lodges in Glacier National Park, but they book up fast and some are quite expensive. You can have a look at the hotels in Glacier National Park Montana listings here and more here.

Some of the hotels on East Glacier side open a little later, around early June. Be sure to check the opening dates while deciding where to stay when visiting Glacier National Park.

West Glacier

Lake McDonald Lodge is open from May 15 to September 23, 2020

Village Inn at Apgar is open from May 20 to September 28, 2020

East Glacier

Many Glacier Hotel is open from June 5 to September 15, 2020

Rising Sun Motor Inn is open from June 12 to September 9, 2020

Swiftcurrent Motor Inn is open from June 9 – to September 13, 2020

Backcountry Chalets in Glacier

There are two backcountry chalets at Glacier, but Sperry was closed for rebuilding after the Sprague fire of 2017. The Sperry Chalet is back in operation for the 2020 season from July 18 to September 13.

Rates for Sperry Chalet are $237 for the first person, and $159 each additional person in the same room.
Plus Montana accomodations taxes.

Granite Park Chalet – The smallest hotel in Glacier park is only open from June 29 through September 12 during the 2020 season.

Granite Park Chalet is for folks who want more rustic accommodation. They have a full kitchen and you can pre-order food supplies from Granite Chalet website.

The main reason to stay at Granite is for the hiking and guests usually spend one night but you can stay 2 or 3 and really explore the backcountry hiking trails. You don’t need a backcountry permit for your stay.

Rates are $115 for one person, $82 for each additional person in the same room. Optional linen and bedding service is $25 per person.

Overhead view of Lake McDonald Lodge lobby which features a huge fireplace and a piano

Lake McDonald Lodge lobby features a huge fireplace and a piano

Even if you don’t stay at one of the hotels in Glacier you should go visit and take a look inside.

East Glacier Lodge sits on the edge of Swiftcurrent Lake surrounded by mountains in East Glacier

East Glacier Lodge sits on the edge of Swiftcurrent Lake surrounded by mountains in East Glacier

Hotels near Glacier National Park

The following hotels are not located inside the boundaries of Glacier National Park, but they are conveniently located near the park.

All of these hotels are highly rated by folks who stayed there – click on the links to read reviews, see photos, and book your room.

You’ll notice there are more hotels near West Glacier. If you are flying into Montana the airport is west of the park. If you are driving south from Canada you’ll be entering at East Glacier.

However you travel to Glacier National Park there are several options for accommodation.

West Glacier

Glacier Outdoor Center
12400 Highway 2 East, West Glacier, MT
Located 1-mile from West Glacier entrance
Private stocked trout pond
Full kitchen
Outdoor store and fly shop onsite
22 miles from Glacier Park Int Airport

Read reviews and check availability and pricing now!

Glacier General Store – this is where I stayed :)
Coram MT
General store onsite
Owner very helpful with tips for hiking and things to do
A/C and full kitchen
Free WiFi
13 miles from Glacier Int Airport

Only 4 units so check now for pricing and availability

Silver Wolf Log Chalets
160 Gladys Glen Rd, Coram
7 minute drive to west entrance
Coram is 14 miles from Whitefish

Check the availability and prices here

Glacier Homestead
Coram MT
5 minute drive to west entrance
Whitefish is 20 miles away and Kalispell is 26 miles away.
Glacier Park International Airport is 18 miles

Look at photos and read reviews for more info

Cedar Creek Lodge and Conference Center
Columbia Falls MT
Open year round
Hotel is one of the newer ones in the area – 2 years old
Free hot breakfast buffet
Connector shuttle to Whitefish if you go skiing

Read the reviews and book your room now!

Meadow Lake Golf and Ski Resort
Columbia Falls MT
15 minute drive to West Glacier entrance
Glacier Park International Airport is less than 6 miles away
Seasonal outdoor pool, year round indoor swimming pool
Free use of bicycles
Spa center and hot tub
WiFi and big screen TV

Highly rated by guests – read reviews and book now!

Historic Tamarack Lodge and Cabins
9549 US Highway 2 East, Hungry Horse, MT
8.1 miles from west entrance
Fridge in all units and bungalow units have full kitchen

Check out the reviews and photos

In between West and East Glacier

Izaak Walton Inn
290 Izaak Walton Inn Road, Essex, MT – along Hwy 2
51 miles from Glacier International airport
Regular style hotel rooms plus there’s a few cabooses and an engine turned into luxury lodgings.
Restaurant, bar, hot tub, sauna – make it popular in winter for skiers.

Have a look at photos and check availability now!

Glacier Haven Inn
14305 Highway 2 East, Pinnacle (Essex MT)
Restaurant onsite
Glacier View Golf Club – 25 min drive away

Find available rooms and rates here

East Glacier


Glacier Peaks Hotel
Browning, MT
Located less than a 2-minute walk from Museum of the Plains Indian
Indoor swimming pool and hot tub
Fitness center
Laundry facilities
Free breakfast

Check out the photos and read guest reviews here

Waterton Park – Alberta Canada

Prince of Wales Hotel
Waterton Park, AB Canada
Lakeside views
Onsite restaurant and bar

Find available rooms and check for deals now!

Where to eat around Glacier National Park

There are restaurants in the park and in nearby towns. Since I stayed in Coram, I ate at a couple of restaurants in the town, but I also enjoyed meals at Lake McDonald Lodge and The Whistle Stop in East Glacier Park Village.

Here are a few places I can recommend near West Glacier:

Trap Line Cafe and Grill – I enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the Trap Line.
Hours: 7 am to 2 pm all week – located in Coram

Glacier Grill and Pizza – Good eats and bar. Try the buffalo burger!
Hours 11 am to 9 pm all week – located in Coram

Russell’s Fireside Dining at Lake McDonald Lodge – A little more upscale but no reservations, casual attire is welcome. Very good menu selection. I had a salad with salmon and pie for dessert.

Breakfast 6:30 am – 10 am Lunch 11:30 am – 2 pm – Dinner 5 pm – 9:30 pm

Polebridge Mercantile – Bakery with a great selection of pastries, cookies, and other yummy stuff!
Closed until around end of March 2020. Official hours for this year are not posted on their website as of this update.
March 28 to May 23 open from 8 am to 6 pm.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day 7 am to 9 pm.
Polebridge is 25 miles from Apgar Visitor Center in West Glacier.

East Glacier restaurants

I only ate at The Whistle Stop in East Glacier Park Village but there were several others such a Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant, Looking Glass Restaurant, and Two Medicine Grill.

The Whistle Stop is where I ate a hearty breakfast one morning after driving along Hwy 49 – aka the scary highway! On a rainy day I drove the winding road from Kiowa to East Glacier Village, and I will admit I was afraid. At times I crept along at 20 mph (32 kph) and then I’d see a speed limit sign posted for 30 mph LOL!

Huckleberry Bear Claw pastry from Polebridge Mercantile and Bakery

The famous Huckleberry Bear Claw pastry from Polebridge Bakery – I got the last one!


Polebridge Mercantile aka "the Merc" has an excellent bakery plus cabins for rent

Polebridge Mercantile aka “the Merc” has an excellent bakery plus cabins for rent

Hanging out at Lake McDonald Lodge

When you need some time to relax and reflect on the day’s events, I suggest a visit to the Lake McDonald Lodge.

Grab a pint at Lucke’s Lounge and sit at the bar or enjoy your beer by the fireplace. Lucke’s also serves bar grub including bison burgers, salads, and sandwiches.

After a morning hike to Avalanche Lake in the rain I took some relaxation time at Lake McDonald Lodge where enjoyed a salad with salmon at Russell’s and followed up with a slice of huckleberry pie.

My grandmother used to bake huckleberry crisp from the berries we picked every summer in British Columbia. Naturally, huckleberries make me think of grandma :)

After lunch I took the boat tour on Lake McDonald and returned to the Lake McDonald Lodge to warm up by the big fireplace.

Then I got thirsty, so I drank a couple of beers with my new found friends around the fireplace and enjoyed an afternoon of music and conversation while the weather was gloomy.

Huckleberry pie for dessert at Russell's Fireside Dining Room at Lake McDonald Lodge

Huckleberry pie for dessert at Russell’s Fireside Dining Room at Lake McDonald Lodge

Visiting Glacier and Yellowstone in one trip

When I decided to visit Yellowstone on my road trip to Calgary from Lafayette Louisiana I figured why not add on a few more days and stay in Glacier too.

Going at the end of May worked out well even though I visited Yellowstone on Memorial Day long weekend I found a great hotel in Jackson Hole. I paid a little more than my budget planned for but YOLO!

You can start planning your Yellowstone trip using my handy guide.

Not sure if you want to make the trip to Yellowstone? Check out 5 BIG reasons you must go!

How many days in each park?

For Yellowstone at least 3 days is best and for Glacier at least 4 days to see both the east and west sides of the park. If you luck out and have perfect weather, you could see a lot in 2 to 3 days at Glacier.

Get more information about both Glacier and Yellowstone at National Park Service website.

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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  1. Brenda says:

    Thanks so much. I am a 70 year old woman hesitating to travel alone. I am also a caregiver so I have delayed traveling. Believe that it may be now or never. Your article was so informative. I believe it gave me the courage to go ahead and take the plunge. I so want to see the world. Bless you.

    • Brenda, Thank you for your comment, this made my day! I’m happy that my article helped you with you travel plans, and I hope you have an amazing journey. It’s never too late to start traveling! If you need help along the way be sure to ask fellow travelers, local folks, or send me a message. And I know being a caregiver is both rewarding and exhausting. Take care of yourself too. Have a wonderful day!

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