Glacier National Park

1,012,837 acres

Vehicle Reservation Requirements: Please be aware that as of 2023, Glacier National Park requires a Vehicle Reservation Permit to access four areas of the park (Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor, North Fork, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier). This is in addition to the standard park pass. Vehicle reservations help preserve the guest experience by ensuring parking availability and cutting down on traffic jams that were becoming frequent. The tickets are limited and advance reservations are needed. Please see the Fee Section below for more information.

Glacier National Park, the 'Crown of the Continent,' is an iconic destination that boasts impressive popularity, with 2-3 million people visiting annually. Featuring one of the most outstanding mountain landscapes in the United States, the park sprawls across one million acres. Over 700 miles of trails offer visitors an array of exceptional natural wonders to enjoy.

Located in northwestern Montana, Glacier National Park sits astride the US-Canada border and, along with Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park, comprises the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park. Behind this unity is the shared responsibilities of maintaining the Upper Waterton Valley that sprawls between the two countries. Since 1932, the two parks have been working together to take care of this incredible wilderness.

The park's name comes from the abundance of glaciers in the area. The Kootenai referred to the area of Glacier National Park as Ya·qawiswit̓xuki, meaning "the place where there is a lot of ice." In 1850, the park was home to 80-150 glaciers, but the number has decreased dramatically to the 26 named glaciers visitors can see today. The park's most prominent glacier, Harrison Glacier, is estimated to cover an area of around 410 acres.

One of the most photographed national parks, Glacier is also home to more than 150 peaks over 8,000 ft., 762 gorgeous lakes, 2,865 miles of streams, and countless stunning waterfalls. The park's peaks are part of two sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains, the Livingston Range, and the Lewis & Clark Range. Mount Cleveland, standing at an elevation of 10,466 ft., is the highest peak in the park, as well as the Lewis & Clark Range. Among other popular landmarks are Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the park, and the striking U-shaped valley that hugs it.

Glacier National Park offers dozens of recreational opportunities, including scenic drives, fly-fishing, boating, and climbing. Of course, hiking and backpacking are extremely popular in the park. Moreover, two National Scenic Trails cross the park, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Northwest Trail. 

Trails in the Area
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Camping, Permits & Fees

Glacier National Park offers backcountry camping in established sites, dispersed backcountry camping, as well as many frontcountry campground options.

Backcountry + Wilderness Camping

Backcountry camping is allowed in 65 designated backcountry campgrounds. The Nyack/Coal Creek (NCC) Camping Zone is the only area where dispersed camping (camping outside of a campground) is allowed in the park, otherwise, it is prohibited.

A Wilderness Camping Permit is required to stay in any of the backcountry campgrounds or the NCC Camping Zone. The permit also serves as your campsite reservation. Please see the Permit section for more information. 

See the park's Wilderness Camping page for more information about dispersed backcountry camping in the Nyack/Coal Creek Camping zone. Also, you can contact a Visitor Center to get more information on the area you’re headed to. Please see the Address section for contact information.

Frontcountry Campgrounds

The national park offers many frontcountry campgrounds for visitors - some are quite modern, while some are primitive with limited amenities. Many are first-come, first-served, but more popular campgrounds can be reserved on Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Pricing varies.

First-Come, First-Served Campgrounds

Apgar Campground (individual sites) 

Bowman Lake Campground

Cut Bank Campground

Kintla Lake Campground

Logging Creek Campground

Quartz Creek Campground

Rising Sun Campground

St. Mary Campground (Requires payment through Recreation.gov app upon arrival)

Reservable Campgrounds

Apgar Campground (group sites) 

Avalanche Campground

Fish Creek Campground

Many Glacier Campground

Sprague Creek Campground 

Two Medicine Campground

Please see the park’s first-come, first-served campgrounds, and reservation campgrounds pages for more information.

Want to receive live updates when campgrounds fill? Sign up for Glacier National Park Notifications and be the first to know. Text GNPCGS to 333111 to sign up.

Don’t forget about Leave No Trace principles and follow the area’s rules and regulations:

  1. Fees are charged and vary depending on the campground and season.
  2. Max group size is 8 people, 2 vehicles, and 2 tents per site.
  3. Campsites for 9-24 people groups are available at Two Medicine, St. Mary, Many Glacier, and Apgar. Always check with park personnel before using.
  4. You cannot leave the campsite unattended for more than 24 hours.
  5. Check-out time is noon. Please re-register by 11:30 AM if you are staying another night.
  6. Secure your valuables!
  7. Bicycles are allowed on roadways only.
  8. The speed limit is no more than 10 mph.
  9. The stay limitations for camping throughout the national park:
  10. 14 days (in a single period or combined separate periods) from July 1 to early September.
  11. 30 days (in a single period or combined separate periods) from early September through June.
Rules & Regulations

Generally, campfires are allowed in established metal or concrete fire rings in the park's campgrounds. Not all backcountry campsites have fire rings supplied - if there aren't any rings, fires are prohibited. When making your backcountry permit reservation, please note if fires are allowed at that campsite and abide by the rules!

Fire restrictions may be in place that prohibit campfires even in the provided fire rings - please see Montana's Official Fire Restrictions Map. If Glacier National Park has No Restrictions or is in Stage 1, fires are allowed; if Glacier has moved to Stage 2, fires are not allowed.

Do not leave fires unattended and always make sure the fire is completely out (using water!) before you go anywhere. The use of portable camp stoves is recommended in place of fires. 

Aside from downed or dead wood, the gathering or cutting of firewood is prohibited throughout the park - with just a few exceptions (see the 'Fires + Firewood' Section). You can purchase firewood at a majority of the park's camp stores.

Note: Campfires are not allowed during the winter camping season.

Ecology, Geology & History

The Glacier National Park's flora consists of lush cedar-hemlock and lodgepole forests and various grasses, ferns, shrubs, and wildflowers. Interestingly, due to the merging of several different ecosystems (alpine, prairie, even coastal), the park features animals and plants that are generally not found together within one region.

The park supports a variety of wildlife, including hoary marmot, snowshoe hare, Columbian ground squirrel, beaver, elk, bighorn sheep, and the park's mountain goats who are so widespread and easily spotted that they have become the symbol of Glacier National Park.

The park is also very well known for it's large grizzly and black bear populations. They are an absolute sight to see in the wild and certainly make Glacier a special place - it's one of only 5 areas in the lower 48 where grizzly bears can be found. To avoid conflict, appreciate wildlife from a distance and do not disturb animals. Please note that proper food and scented storage is required day and night to keep both visitors and bears safe. Carrying and knowing how to use bear spray properly is advised, and a must if you plan to venture onto the parks backcountry hiking trails. Please see the park's Bear Safety page for more.

Birdwatching is rather enjoyable here as well - look for bald and golden eagles, Northern Hawk Owls, ospreys, swifts, and harlequins.

The lakes and streams are teeming with brook trout, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, kokanee, largescale suckers, northern pikeminnow, and redside shiners.

In 1995, Glacier National Park was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main reason being for the thriving and diverse wildlife population that has not significantly changed since the area's discovery. The park is home to 71 species of mammals, 1132 species of plants (at least!), nearly 300 species of birds, and 21 types of fish.

For more information on the park's flora and fauna, please visit its Nature & Science page.

Safety, Seasons & Water
  • If you see a black bear or mountain lion, stop, stay calm, and back away slowly. Do not turn your back or run away. You need to look large and scary - stand tall, raise your arms, and make noise! Avoid sudden movements and screaming. If the animal attacks you - fight back and aim blows for their face. If needed, use your bear spray. Keep your bear spray readily accessible and know how to use it.
  • If you encounter a grizzly bear, do the same as above, but don’t fight back if it attacks or charges you. The best thing to do here is to play dead. For more information, please see our ‘Traveling & Camping in Bear Territory’ article.
  • Be prepared for high elevation, and snow, altitude sickness, and hypothermia are no joke. Stay warm and dry, bring extra clothes, and don’t forget to drink water.
  • In general, avoid high water and stay out of rivers and creeks. Avoid slippery rocks near rivers’ edges - the water here moves very fast, especially during snowmelt. Trekking poles and waterproof shoes will be a great help here. Every year unprepared visitors need rescuing. If you do need to ford a river, please do so slowly and carefully - for more information, please read our blog article, ‘Wilderness Skills: River Fording’. 
  • Early summer brings lots of meltwater streams as snow melts. Extra caution should be exercised when crossing them. Meltwater streams also create snow bridges that cause a significant hazard in case of a bridge collapse, so be on the lookout!
  • The weather conditions can change rapidly in this area - check on the conditions right before heading out and carry rain gear and extra layers.
  • Ticks can be a problem during spring and early summer, so appropriate clothing and tick checks are essential. Read more about tick bite prevention here.
  • Rugged and steep terrain have caused quite a few accidents, so use extreme caution if you're traveling cross-country or venturing out onto steep slopes.

For more information on potential hazards in Glacier National Park, please visit their safety page.

Contacts, Resources & Closures

Glacier National Park Headquarters

64 Grinnell Drive

Glacier National Park Headquarters

West Glacier, MT 59936

Phone Number: (406) 888-7800

TDD: (406) 888-7806

Email: glac_questions@nps.gov

St. Mary Visitor Center (East Side of the Park)

St. Mary Visitor Center

Browning, MT 59417, US

Phone Number: (406) 888-7800

The visitor center operates from late May to early October. Operating hours: daily, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

Logan Pass Visitor Center (Going-to-the-Sun Road)

Logan Pass Visitor Center

Browning, MT 59417, US

Phone Number: (406) 888-7800

The visitor center operates from mid-June to early September. Operating hours: daily, 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM.

September hours are 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM.

Apgar Visitor Center (West Side of the Park)

Apgar Visitor Center

West Glacier, MT 59936, US

Phone Number: (406) 888-7800

The visitor center operates from mid-May to mid-October. Operating hours: daily, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

You also can reach out to Glacier National Park via their Contact Us page.

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