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Camp at Atlantic Creek

2,184 ft2,174 ft2 days7.1 mi/day

Triple Divide Pass Trail is an exciting 14-mile out-and-back trail in the remote eastern part of Glacier National Park. A great spot to reconnect with nature, the trail offers an unforgettable journey to one of the most beautiful points in the park - Triple Divide Pass. The pass offers a plethora of jaw-dropping views of the surrounding terrain, including breathtaking panoramas of the Atlantic Creek and Hudson Bay Creek Valleys.

Overview Map
Day 1
10.1 mi
2,184 ft
1,934 ft
For the first 4 miles, you'll hike through gorgeous meadows that explode with wildflowers during certain times of the summer season. The trail roughly parallels the North Fork of Cut Bank Creek and treats you with fantastic vistas of Bad Marriage Mountain looming to the south. The trail begins a gradual climb up the Triple Divide Pass and as you proceed higher, the climb will become more steep and strenuous. Once you reach the pass, take your time to enjoy fantastic the panoramas before coming back down to the Atlantic Creek Campground.
Cut Bank Trailhead (CBE)
0 mi
5,172 ft

Located close to the eastern border of Glacier National Park, the trailhead marks a starting point for several exciting backpacking adventures.

Note: As this area doesn't usually see the same amount of traffic as the rest of Glacier, parking space is generally available.

Triple Divide Pass
7.1 mi
7,381 ft

Triple Divide Pass sits between Triple Divide Peak to the west and Mount James to the east. Also to the west of Triple Divide Peak, you will see Norris Mountain, while the jagged summit of Split Mountain looms to the north. From the top of the pass, you'll enjoy breathtaking views of the Hudson Bay Creek Valley to the north and the Atlantic Creek Valley with beautiful Medicine Grizzly Lake to the southeast.

Atlantic Creek Campground (ATL)
10.1 mi
5,431 ft
Atlantic Creek Campground is a great location for setting a tent - the surrounding conifer trees provide you with shade and the spot offers great views of surrounding Bad Marriage Mountain and Medicine Grizzly Peak. The campground has 4 campsites and a pit toilet.
10.1 mi
Day 2
4.1 mi
0 ft
240 ft
Head back to the trailhead at your own pace today! If you're feeling adventurous, hike west again, but instead of climbing the pass, take the mostly flat Medicine Grizzly Trail to Medicine Grizzly Lake where you can enjoy lunch before returning to Cut Bank.
Cut Bank Trailhead (CBE)
14.2 mi
5,172 ft
Directions to the trailhead
Geology and History
Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park traces its geologic history back to over 1.6 billion years ago when the Belt Sea still covered the park, as well as the entirety of the American Northwest. Sediments from higher elevations would float to the sea bottom, accumulate, and condense to form rock layers. Traces of the sea can still be seen in the rock layers and ripple marks throughout the park. Sedimentary and metasedimentary rocks dominate the park, and the sedimentary rocks are considered to be among the oldest in North America. What is more surprising is their good condition, as it’s uncommon for sedimentary rocks to be well preserved. 

Later, over 750 million years ago, igneous rock flowed into the Belt Sea after disturbances in the earth’s crust. It is now evident as sills (magma that flows into a fracture) in the region's limestone layers.

Around 300 million years ago, the Ancestral Rocky Mountains formed during a period of uplift. Consisting of mostly metamorphic rock, the mountains eroded back to sediment in the coming Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. The Larimide Orogeny (a period of mountain building) caused most of the current Rocky Mountains to be built between 55 and 80 million years ago, with events continuing until about 2.6 million years ago. It resulted in the Lewis Thrust Fault - a notable geological feature that Glacier National Park is famous for. The fault is visible in many of the park's mountains and is a phenomenal example of a Thrust Fault, or Overthrust - when a layer of older rock is thrust over a layer of younger rock. The park's rock layers are also notable for their distinct red and green layers that can be seen banded together. The two main factors behind this process are iron and oxygenl when rocks with a high iron content are formed while exposed to oxygen, they turn red and orange and when no oxygen is present, they stay green. 

The Rockies, and much of the United States, was subject to multiple Ice Ages, or periods of glaciation, from around 2 million to about 11,000 year ago. The glaciers played a huge part in creating the mountains, valleys, and moraines present today. Glacial carving also formed the cirques that host many of the park's lakes. Lake McDonald Valley’s unique shape is an example of this process.

When it comes to human history, the first people to inhabit the area were Indigenous Tribes who have lived in this around since around 10,000 years ago. During this time, the Blackfeet Tribe gained control of the plains on the east side of the mountains, including its extensive prairies and vast bison population. The Blackfeet were pushed further west by European-American's western advancement. Generally nomadic, they used dogs to pull their travois (sleds) from place to place until horses were introduced.

The Kootenai, Upper Pend d’Oreille, and Bitterroot Salish Tribes territory once extended from the forests and valley on the west side of the mountains across the mountain range crest and into the plains on the east side. When the Blackfeet acquired horses, they began to expand their territory and pushed many of these tribes off of the plains, though the western tribes would still often traverse through the mountains, hunting both game and buffalo on the eastern plains.

Europeans started to explore the area in the early 1700’s looking for beavers to trap, then minerals and land to settle. The Lewis and Clark expedition were among the first to visit the area. The new European settlers were originally welcomed by tribes in the area, but the sentiment quickly changed as smallpox began ravaging the Indigenous communities. The disease, alongside tremendous resource depletion and increasing violence, forced the tribes to sign treaties and relocate onto reservations. Today, the Blackfeet Nation Reservation and the Flathead Reservation are respectively located to the east and southwest of Glacier National Park, and the robust culture and community of these tribes persevere.

Probably one of the most important individuals who played a role in shaping the park’s history was George Bird Grinnell, a well-respected explorer. In 1885, he was deeply impressed by the area’s landscapes and was determined to establish a national park. It was he who referred to the region as the ‘Crown of the Continent’.

Another factor leading to the area’s current status was the construction of the Great Northern Railway in 1891. In order to attract more passengers, the beauty of the region was advertised to the public as a vacation destination. In 1897, the US Congress designated the area as a forest preserve and later, in 1910, a national park.

The Great Northern Railway sold Glacier as “America’s Switzerland” by building Swiss-style hotels and chalets. As automobiles became more widespread, work on Going-to-the-Sun Road began. After 11 years, the road opened to the public in 1932. Traversing through the heart of the park from the West Glacier entrance to the eastern St. Mary entrance, the road drives through an absolutely astounding landscape of deep valleys and massive mountains. The road has earned quite a few honors for its construction and scenic nature. It is designated as a National Historic Landmark and, for all the trivia buffs out there, it appeared at the beginning of the movie The Shining. 

Permits and Fees
Glacier National Park

Standard Park Entrance Passes

All visitors to Glacier National Park must pay an entrance fee. Costs vary by mode of entry and pass type - please see the "Fees" section below for more details.

Vehicle Reservations

As of 2023, vehicle reservations are required in addition to a Park Entrance Pass to enter four areas of the park via car between 6 AM and 3 PM: Going-to-the-Sun Road, the North Fork, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier. Each area has its unique considerations (including applicable dates) and requires a separate reservation.

This map displays the four areas that require a vehicle reservation.

Vehicle reservations are not available for purchase at the park. If you have a wilderness camping permit, you will be able to drive into the zone where your hike is located without an additional reservation.

For more information on Vehicle Permits, please continue to the "Fees" section.

Wilderness Camping Permits

Wilderness use permits are also required for visitors wishing to camp in the backcountry of Glacier. In 2023, Glacier National Park transitioned to the Recreation.gov online reservation system for advanced wilderness camping permits.

Camping permits allow groups of 1-4 hikers per permit. Groups of 5-8 campers must hold two separate permits with two separate group leaders, and Groups of 9-12 campers must hold three separate permits with three separate group leaders. Please see the "Group Reservation Lottery Process" section in "Fees" for more information.

70% of wilderness campsites park-wide will be available for advance reservation through Recreation.gov and 30% will be available through walk-up permits acquired at ranger stations on the day of or the day before your trip.

After completing your reservation, you will be required to watch the Summer Backcountry Camping safety and resource video before starting your trip. You must pick up your permit (with a confirmation number in hand) at any of the permitting locations below:

Permitting Locations

The "Fees" section below has more specific details on advance reservations wilderness camping permits, group size requirements, walk-ups, and more.

Winter Camping Permits (November 1 - April 30)

Winter camping permits can be reserved from 3 to 7 days before the start of your trip. Please note that in-person permits are not available; they will be issued electronically by advance reservation only. You must watch this video that outlines the logistics of winter camping in the national park before applying for your permit.

You can receive a permit in one of the following ways:

  • By phone. You’ll need to call 406-888-7800, press 5, and leave your number. A ranger will call you within three working days and develop an itinerary with you. You'll then be emailed the permit. Please, print it or store it electronically on a device you'll have with you on your trip. 
  • Via email. Send a winter wilderness permit request with a completed permit application attached to glac_backcountry_permits@nps.gov or click here. Be sure to include your phone number, as a ranger will call you and develop your itinerary with you. Your permit will be emailed to you - then print it out or save it to a device you'll have with you on your trip.

Special Use Permits

Certain areas in the national park may require a permit for non-commercial and non-profit groups, commercial operators and commercial filming and photography, wedding ceremonies, and some other special activities in Glacier National Park. Check the park’s Permits & Reservations page to determine whether you need a special use pass or not.

Glacier National Park

Standard Park Entrance Pass

Depending on how you arrive to visit Glacier, there are a few different Entrance Pass options. Prices vary by season and can be purchased on Recreation.gov, or at the entrance station. Permits are non-transferable.

Summer 2023 Rates:

  • Private Vehicle 7-Day Pass - Up to 15 passengers, non-commercial vehicle: $35
  • Single Entry - Visitors arriving by foot, bicycle, or in a non-commercial vehicle: $20 per person
  • Motorcycle Pass - Per motorcycle: $30

Winter (Nov 1 - April 30) 2023 Rates: 

  • Private Vehicle 7-Day Pass - All individuals in a private, non-commercial vehicle: $25
  • Single Entry - Visitors arriving on foot, by bicycle, or in a non-commercial vehicle: $15 per person
  • Motorcycle Pass - Per motorcycle: $20 

Glacier Annual Entrance Pass: $70

America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Passes can be used for entry.

Free Entrance Days (2023)

Fees are waived at Glacier National Park on the following days:

  • Jan 16, 2023: Martin Luther King, Jr Day
  • Apr 22, 2023: First Day of National Park Week
  • Aug 4, 2023: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • Sep 23, 2023: National Public Lands Day
  • Nov 11, 2023: Veterans Day

Please note: the Entrance Pass is separate from the Vehicle Reservation described below.

Vehicle Reservations

As of Summer 2023, between the hours of 6 AM to 3 PM, Glacier National Park requires Vehicle Reservations for many of its entrances to preserve the park and guests’ experience by not overcrowding parking lots, trails, and resources. Vehicle reservation regulations vary depending on the area of the park being accessed, and each location requires a separate reservation.

You must book your reservations in advance through Recreation.gov. There is a $2 fee (as of 2023). You can place your reservation online via the link provided, through the Recreation.gov app, or through the Recreation.gov call center (877-444-6777). Permits are not available for purchase in the park.

Vehicle Reservation Exemptions:

  • Tribal Members
  • Landowners
  • Those arriving by foot or bike
  • Those with reservations for lodging, camping, transportation, or commercial activities in the park
  • Overnight Wilderness Permits (at all but the Going-to-the-Sun Road Entrances)

Vehicle Reservation Regulations by Area (see map):

Going-to-the-Sun Road Reservation

  • Required for:
  • West Glacier Entrance
  • Camas Entrance
  • St. Mary Entrance (Rising Sun Checkpoint)
  • When:
  • May 26 - September 10, 2023, between 6 AM and 3 PM.
  • Permits Released:
  • February 1 for May 26 - June 30 visits
  • March 1 for July 1 - July 31 visits
  • April 1 for August 1 - August 31 visits
  • May 1 for September 1 - September 10 visits
  • Reservations are good for 3 consecutive days.
  • Note: St. Mary/Rising Sun does not require a reservation until July 1. It is likely that only a portion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road will be open - check the park website for road status updates before your trip.

The North Fork Reservation

  • Required for:
  • All points east of the Polebridge Entrance Station
  • When:
  • May 26 - September 10, 2023, between 6 AM and 3 PM
  • Permits Released:
  • February 1 for May 26 - June 30 visits
  • March 1 for July 1 - July 31 visits
  • April 1 for August 1 - August 31 visits
  • May 1 for September 1 - September 10 visits
  • Reservations are good for 1 day.

Two Medicine Reservation

  • Required for:
  • All points west of the Two Medicine Entrance Station
  • When:
  • July 1 - September 10, 2023 between 6am and 3pm
  • Permits Released:
  • March 1 for July 1 - July 31 visits
  • April 1 for August 1 - August 31 visits
  • May 1 for September 1 - September 10 visits
  • Reservations are good for 1 day.

Many Glacier Reservation

  • Required for:
  • All points west of the Many Glacier Entrance Station
  • When:
  • July 1 - September 10, 2023 between 6am and 3pm
  • Permits Released: 
  • March 1 for July 1 - July 31 visits
  • April 1 for August 1 - August 31 visits
  • May 1 for September 1 - September 10 visits
  • Reservations are good for 1 day.

The remaining Going-to-the-Sun Road and the North Fork area passes will become available on a rolling basis at 8 AM 24-hours before the reservation date starting May 25, 2023, at 8 AM MT.

Similarly, the remaining Two Medicine and Many Glacier passes will become available on a rolling basis at 8 AM 24 hours before the reservation date starting June 30, 2023, at 8 AM MT.

Note: Outside of the hours of 6 AM-3 PM reservations are not required, just a Park Entrance Pass.

Wilderness Permit + Backcountry Camping Fees 

Wilderness camping is available in 65 designated campgrounds throughout the park. Within the Nyack / Coal Creek camping zone, both designated campgrounds and dispersed camping is available.

A wilderness use permit is required for all overnight camping and must be in your possession while in the backcountry.

Camping permits allow groups of 1-4 hikers per permit. Groups of 5-8 campers must hold two separate permits with two separate group leaders, and Groups of 9-12 campers must hold three separate permits with three separate group leaders.

This Wilderness Campground map will help you plan your trip.

Advanced Permit Lottery

In 2023, Glacier National Park transitioned to the Recreation.gov online reservation system for wilderness use permits. If you do not have access to a computer, the Recreation.gov Call Center can be reached at 877-444-6777 to assist you with your permits.

Wilderness camping reservations are available beginning at 8 AM on March 15, 2023.

Your reservation is not your permit. You must bring your confirmation number to any of the permitting stations within the park to pick up your permit (on the day of or the day before the start of your itinerary).

For more information, please see Glacier National Park's guide to Wilderness Camping Advance Reservations.

Group Reservation Lottery Process

A hybrid lottery will be held for mid-sized groups (5-8 campers) and large groups (9-12 campers) via Pay.gov. Fax, phone, or in-person applications not are accepted. There is a 16-mile-per-day limit on advance reservation applications.

Applications will be accepted via Pay.gov, randomly sequenced, and a random selection on March 1 will result in 30 groups of 5-8 campers and 5 groups of 9-12 campers being contacted about their intended permits.

After selection, all applicants must make a Recreation.gov account in order to finalize the permit process. Please use the same email and phone number that you entered on your Pay.gov application.

Prior to March 15, all successful applicants will receive an email notification from staff regarding their trip itinerary and instructions for final payment. Payment must be completed within 5 days of receiving notification or the reservation will be canceled.

Walk-Up Permits

30% of backcountry campsites are omitted from the lottery and saved for walk-up hikers. However, it is not guaranteed that 30% of any given campsite will have complete walk-up availability; backpackers on longer trips (4 or more nights) may reserve walk-up sites well in advance.

Generally, the permits are available the day before or the day of the desired trip start date. It is recommended that you arrive early to a permitting location the day before your intended start date to take advantage of the best campsite availability. Permits will not be issued after 4:30 PM at any location, and the last permit is issued 30 minutes before the station closes.

Wilderness Camping Fees

From April 1 to October 31, there is a $10 permit fee and an additional $7 per person per night camping fee (as of 2023). These fees are payable upon online reservation if booked in advance, or upon permit issuance at a wilderness permit office for walk-ups.

Winter wilderness permits (issued Nov. 1 - April 30) are free.

Full refunds of the per person per night camping fees are instated if the reservation is canceled 7 or more days before the trip start date. The $10 reservation fee is non-refundable.

Rules and Regulations
Camping regulations
Glacier National Park

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.
Parking Info
Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park has many designated lots and spaces for parking throughout the park. Please make sure you do not block roadways when parking, and avoid parking on top of vegetation.

Finding parking in the peak summer season (July - September) can be tricky as lots tend to fill very quickly, especially at Logan Pass Visitor Center. Visit the park's Information Display + Dashboard to check the availability of parking lots in the park's main areas ahead of your visit.

A complimentary shuttle service is offered by the park in certain regions to help alleviate congestion. Overnight backpackers on prolonged trips visiting core zones of the park may want to park elsewhere and then shuttle to their starting trailhead.

Campfire Info
Glacier National Park

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.

Bear canisters
Glacier National Park

Black and grizzly bears, and plenty of small critters are present in the national park, so the use of proper food and scented item storage techniques is absolutely necessary. In fact, because of the sizable bear population, storing food + scented items properly is legally required both day and night.

It is recommended that you follow the Bear-muda Triangle rule when storing food, cooking, and camping in the backcountry. Never store your food or smellable items in camp!

Bear lockers and bear poles are supplied in many of the park's campsites and should be used when available. There are also a few other legal options for food storage here, including an approved bear-resistant canister, a counterbalance hang, a hard-sided vehicle, or a horse trailer. Please see the park's Bear Safety page for more information.

Regardless of requirement or not, we always suggest storing your food in a way that protects it from feeding the locals. This keeps you from going hungry when you’re out there and is in line with Leave No Trace Principles. If you’re new to storing food while backpacking or just want a quick refresher, please see our ‘Traveling & Camping in Bear Territory’ article, where we discuss this topic in more depth.

Pack Animals and Pets
Glacier National Park

Dogs are not permitted on most trails, in any buildings, and in the backcountry, so leave your buddy at home if you want to do any hiking.

Service animals are permitted within the park and the backcountry. Be sure to check out the Rules and Risk section of Glacier National Park's Service Animals page.

Pets are allowed at campgrounds, on roads, and in parking areas within the park’s boundaries on leashes no longer than 6 feet. Please be sure to clean up after your dogs and dispose of their waste in a proper trash receptacle. Bags on the side of the trails don't count!

Stock is generally allowed within the park, with the exception of the trails that are closed to stock (see the list at the bottom of the page).

Hunting Season Info
Glacier National Park

Hunting is strictly prohibited in Glacier National Park.

Other Regulations
Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park’s administration makes many improvements in accessibility each year. Please read through Glacier's Accessible Facilities and Services brochure to learn more about recreational opportunities for visitors with diverse needs.


Fishing is permitted all year in the park, but some waters are off limits. A fishing license is not required to fish inside the park. The best fishing season is from late May through November 30.

You can learn more about the limits, regulations, closed bodies of water, and equipment here.

* Note: A Montana fishing license is required to fish in the Middle and North Forks of the Flathead River. You can get a license in person at many local sporting goods stores or on the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks website. Check regulations before heading out on a trip.


Launching and flying drones is prohibited within the park’s boundaries.

Vehicle Size Regulations

Size restrictions for vehicles on the upper portion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road (between Avalanche Creek and Rising Sun) are in effect. Vehicles may be:

  • no longer than 21 ft.
  • no wider than 8 ft.
  • no taller than 10 ft.

Park Speed Limit

The speed limit for vehicles is generally 40 mph, and 25 mph on the alpine section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Please follow all posted signage as the speed limit can change.


Bicycling is generally permitted in Glacier National Park, but please note that roads will close to bicycle use certain parts of the year and for construciton.

The following segments of the Going-of-the-Sun Road are not available to bicycle use from June 15 to early September between 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM:

  • From Logan Creek to Logan Pass (eastbound).
  • From the Apgar turnoff on Lake McDonald’s southern end to the Sprague Creek Campground, in both directions.
Seasons and Weather
Glacier National Park

Hiking season: mid-June - September

The best season: July - August

The highest temperatures: 70°F

The lowest temperatures: 10°F

Winter average highs are 20-30°F and lows are 10-15°F. 

Spring average highs are 30-45°F and lows are 15-25°F. 

Summer average highs are 55-70°F and lows are 35-45°F.

Fall average highs are 30-60°F and lows are 20-35°F

Glacier National Park’s weather is ever-changing and highly variable. Summer days are generally warm and nights are cold, with daily highs in the 70s and nightly lows in the 40s. Stay warm and dry, bring extra clothes. The park's higher elevations are generally cooler by many degrees and snow may be encountered any time of the year. Conditions at the trailhead may not reflect conditions on your hike.

The hiking season starts earlier at lower elevations, as the snow melts out generally by the end of April. Higher elevation trails take until June or even into July to be clear of snow. July and August are the most popular months for backpacking and hiking in the park.

Always check the trail conditions before going out on the trip. You can check current weather conditions here.

Water Sources
Glacier National Park

Water sources are abundant in Glacier National Park. Many frontcountry campgrounds have potable water, however, some of them do not. Be sure to check ahead of time, so you can bring enough with you. None of the primitive backcountry campsites have potable drinking water available, so you’ll have to treat and/or filter water from found sources.

Always purify found water because it may contain harmful bacteria! Boil it for 1-3 minutes, filter with an approved device, or use water treatment tablets.

Nobody wants to come down with a bug while backpacking! For more information on water treatment products and methods, please see our ‘Water Treatment in the Backcountry’ article.

Animals and Plants
Glacier National Park

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.

Risks and Hazards
Glacier National Park
  • 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.

Gear and Skills
Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park has healthy black and grizzly bear populations. As such, you will need to know the basics of proper food and scented item storage, as the park requires it day and night. Please see our rules and regulations section for more. It is also suggested that you carry and know how to use bear spray properly, especially if you are traveling in the park's backcountry where it's all but guaranteed that you will spot a bear. Please see the park's park's Bear Safety page for more.

Most areas do not have any cell service. You can download a free NPS application on your phone that works without the internet and download the content for offline use. Having a map and compass is also always a good idea.


Be prepared. Carry the ten essentials even on a short sightseeing hike. 

If you're going to climb to higher elevations, be sure to inspect your gear and potentially plan extra time to get acclimatized before the trip. To minimize altitude sickness symptoms, drink plenty of water, don't skip meals, avoid alcohol, and rest enough.

Another factor is the snow and possibility for avalanches. If you have no experience in hiking in snow, be extremely careful and don’t go far. If you’re going into avalanche terrain, take these absolutely essential items: an avalanche transceiver, probe, and portable shovel.  Most importantly, know how to use them! Take an avalanche safety course, study the area and snowpack of the terrain, and know how to use your gear before venturing into the snowy backcountry.

Use extreme caution when hiking along glaciers and crossing steep snowfields on trails and in the backcountry. Condition appropriate foot traction (crampons, microspikes, snowshoes, etc.) and an ice axe are recommended for any snow travel. If your desired route takes you across glaciers, you should have proper glacier gear and understand techniques for safe travel and crevasse rescue.

You might need to give first aid, read a compass, or erect a temporary shelter in certain conditions. If you're planning to undertake a strenuous hike, make sure you're prepared physically before going on your trip.

Contacts and Resources
Glacier National Park

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.

Park Closures
Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is open year-round, though some roads, facilities, and services close seasonally or due to fire danger.

Before venturing out, please contact the nearest Visitor Center or check the park’s Current Conditions page for more information.

Road Closures
Glacier National Park

Montana has variable road conditions, especially during winter months. Check the Montana Road Report for up to date information on your driving route.

Please note: A number of roads may allow, but also have limitations on, non-motorized use at any time or season. Follow all posted signage and watch for construction workers and construction zones.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Several parts of Going-to-the-Sun Road are available for visitors year-round. However, Going-to-the-Sun Road's central alpine portions close for the winter season, depending on the weather conditions.  The main section of the road - from Avalanche Lake to the Foot of St. Mary Lake - typically closes in October and does not open until late June. 

You can find up-to-date information about temporary closures on the Road Status page.

Plowing and opening Going-to-the-Sun Road is a tremendous effort every year for the park's staff. Spring snowstorms or avalanches can affect their operations.

Check the park's Directions, Transportation, & Road Status Page for real time information on all of Glacier's roads.

Temporary Closures
Glacier National Park

It’s always a good practice to check on area closures, fire restrictions, and road conditions prior to your trip.

Call or stop by a Visitor Center, and check the park’s Current Conditions page for more information.

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