View from atop the Grinnell Glacier Overlook trail in Glacier National Park in Montana (Matt McKnight / Reuters)

While most parks are packing it in and scaling back for the fall season, Glacier National Park in Northern Montana is just getting started. Just after summer, and right before the snow starts to fall in the mountains, is the perfect time to take a trip and take a hike in one of America's most awesome parks.

Glacier's untouched forests, mountains, meadows, and lakes are a hiker's playground and a perfect backdrop for a family trip, or a solo excursion. With over 700 miles of trails, don't miss a moment of nature's beauty in the park.


A hiker hikes the Highline Trail with a view of Heaven's Peak in Glacier National Park, Montana (Matt McKnight / Reuters)

Places to Go

If you've heard of the park, it's probably because of Going-to-the-Sun Road (routinely named one of the most scenic drives in America). While the road is a must see, there is plenty more to do in the park. Visitors can take Going-to-the-Sun Road to reach Lake McDonald Valley, Logan Pass, and the St. Mary Valley. You can also explore the North Fork, Goat Haunt, Many Glacier, and Two Medicine. Each landmark is a unique opportunity to learn about the landscape, homesteading, Native American history, wilderness, and the park's glacially-carved valleys. 


A bighorn sheep stands atop a pile of rocks near the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park in Montana (Matt McKnight / Reuters)


If you're planning to stay in the park overnight, two historic hotels offer a mix of history and modern comforts for a rustic feel along with beautiful views of the ever-changing park landscape. You can choose to stay in any of the full-service lodges, inns, cabins or hotels, depending on just how much you want to commune with nature.

Both Glacier Park Inc. and Apgar Village Lodge date back to the early 1900's and give a glimpse of what it was like to homestead and live here before it became a park. 


Nick Wieland of Eagan, Minnesota descends the Loop Trail from the Granite Park Chalet in Glacier National Park, Montana (Matt McKnight / Reuters)


This is how the park was originally meant to be explored. Glacier has 13 campgrounds and almost 1000 campsites to get up close and personal with nature. Most are on a first-come, first serve basis, but some are open for reservations. The campgrounds are scattered around the park, so you can choose your spot depending on what sights you want to see most. You can camp by a lake, in a valley or next to a meadow - the choice is yours!


People embark on a canoe ride at dusk on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park (Matt McKnight / Reuters)


740 miles of trails crisscross the park and lead to some of the most beautiful natural sights in North America. Although thousands of hikers cross these paths every year, it's unlikely that you'll run into more than a handful in the expanse of the park. Feel free to explore The Trail of the Cedars (wheelchair accessible), Forest and Fire, Hidden Lake, Sun Point, Running Eagle Falls (wheelchair accessible), and Swiftcurrent Nature Trails.

There are short and long hikes for all skill levels and interests. You can choose to hike solo or with a group, but whatever you choose, be safe and make sure to review proper safety procedures and observe park weather warnings and conditions. Also, make sure to wear proper hiking shoes and attire as the climate can change drastically from day to night.


Hikers trek through snow along the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana (Matt McKnight / Reuters)

Everything Else

If hiking isn't your thing, or if you want a bit more variety, there is a full schedule of activities around the park for everyone in your group to enjoy. The park offers bicycling, boating, cross-country skiing, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding and other park ranger-led activities. 


A view shows Heaven's Peak through a tunnel on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana (Matt McKnight / Reuters)

Hikers hike through snow along the Hidden Lake Trail near Clements Mountain in Glacier National Park. (Matt McKnight / Reuters)

Hiking socks are hung out to air on a clothesline at Granite Park Chalet in Glacier National Park, Montana (Matt McKnight / Reuters)