Glacier National Park is hands down our favorite American national park. We visited this park twice for a total of 8 days and loved every minute of it! If you haven't visited it yet, you should. As simple as that.
Since this post was originally published, we visited Glacier again in the summer of 2023. It's as gorgeous as ever, but organizing the visit has become a bit more complicated because now you need to book vehicle entry permits in advance.
If you're planning your Glacier NP visit, make sure to read my 11 Tried-and-True Tips for Glacier National Park where I share advice on how to make the most from your visit, based on our last visit.
The sample Glacier National Park itinerary in this post still holds true. You just need to make sure you prepare for everything in advance.
It's worth it! As you can see from the photos on our page (all of them taken by me during our visits). Yes, it really is that stunning.
This Glacier National Park itinerary offers a flexible plan that will take you through the best the park offers in three days and two nights. Is that enough time?
Of course not! This park has gorgeous views everywhere you look, so you can easily spend a month here exploring the trails. But let's be realistic here.
Most people visit Glacier as part of a road trip to the Rockies and can't afford to spend more than three or four days at the same place.
And what if you manage to squeeze that fourth day out of your trip plan? Awesome! I've added a fourth bonus day for you!
And... I've put it all into one cool image with lots of eye candy. And when it comes to eye candy, Glacier NP can give you a real sugar rush. See it for yourself (and please pin it on Pinterest too!) You'll also find a more detailed text version down the post, a map and a picture gallery.
More about this Glacier National Park itinerary
This trip plan takes you from the park's west side to the east side. Feel free to reverse the directions according to your road trip needs.
The mileage for all trails shown here is for your total return distance. Please always check with the rangers before going on the trail to ensure no closures or usage limitations.
Where to stay during your Glacier Park trip?
You'll be starting your journey at the western entrance to the park, so there will be many motels and hotels in the nearby towns. Hungry Horse and Columbia Falls are two small towns very near the park. If you can't find accommodation there, try Whitefish or even Kalispell.
Accommodation becomes more expensive once you cross the Going To The Sun road, so book in advance if you want cheaper rooms. Stay at St. Mary's Lodge or the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn at Many Glacier. If budget isn't a problem, you can stay at the Many Glacier Hotel.
And now, finally -
The Glacier National Park itinerary
And here's the text version of the Glacier National Park Itinerary!
Day 1 - Crossing the Going To The Sun Road
Enter the Going To The Sun Road from West Glacier.
Stop to see Mcdonald Creek at the Mcdonald Falls trailhead.
Hike Trail of The Cedars (1 mile). If you're a fast hiker, go all the way to Avalanche Lake (4.5 miles)
Get back on the road heading east. Drive slowly and stop en route to take pictures.
Stop at Logan Pass Visitor's Center (register for next day's hike)
Hike the first 1-2 miles of the Highline Trail
Optional: Hike to St. Mary's Falls (1.7 miles) or to Virginia Falls (3.6 miles)
Stop at Sunrift Gorge & Wild Goose Island for pictures.
Have dinner at the Snowgoose Grille at St. Mary's Lodge
Join a ranger's evening talk
Day 2 - Hiking The Many Glacier Area
Get an early start! Grab a coffee & pastry at Glacier Perk and head out to Many Glacier.
If you're not an avid hiker, follow this itinerary today -
- Take the Grinnell Valley Boat Trip and hike for 3½ to 4 hours, an easy 2.5-mile (also available as a ranger-lead hike).
- Join a horse-riding trek to Josephine Lake or Cracker Flats (2 hours)
Avid hiker? Choose one of these (both are also available as ranger-lead hikes)
- The Grinnell Glacier Boat Trip and Hike 8½ hours, strenuous 8-mile (12.9 km)
- The Iceberg Lake or similar destination) 6-7 hours, moderate 10-mile (16 km)
Enjoy a hearty dinner at Nell's at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn (Many Glacier)
Get huckleberry ice cream at the store for dessert!
Day 3 From Many Glacier to Two Medicine
Join the ranger-lead Morning Nature Stroll at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn
Drive to Two Medicine Lake and stop at Cassidy Curve for pictures of Lake Sherburne
Take the easy trail to the beautiful Running Eagle Falls (0.6 miles)
Hike to Aster Park (ranger-lead on some days) 4 hours, moderate 3.8-mile
Hike to Appistoki Falls (1.3 miles)
From here, you're on your own! Drive on to your next destination to save on the costs of park accommodation.
Can you spare a day? If you can add a day to your Glacier National Park itinerary, visit the Waterton Lakes region on the other side of the border.
Here's your itinerary for this bonus day -
Grab a coffee and pastries at the store at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and head out north.
Enter the park and head north to Red Rock Canyon Parkway trail, hike the trail, and continue hiking until you reach Blakiston Falls. (1.9 miles)
Visit Cameron Falls for some awesome pictures.
Have lunch at the Wieners of Waterton.
Visit Cameron Lakeshore, and if you're up for it, take the 1.9-mile-long trail.
Drive back to the Many Glacier area
Still, feel like walking? If it's not too late, hike to Hidden Falls
Join an evening program with a ranger or enjoy a fancy meal at the Many Glacier Hotel (or both!)
Road-tripping to Montana?
Thought I'd give a shoutout to my post about our 37 road-tripping tips. That list is based on over a year and a half of road-tripping in the US, including an amazing trip driving from California to Alaska and back.
What about you?
Have you visited this awesome park yet? If so, let me know what you liked best about it, and share your tips in a comment! If you haven't visited it yet, would you like to do this in the future?
I love reading your comments (and promise to answer any of them!), and please help me spread the word about Glacier National Park by sharing this post on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Speaking of Pinterest, I'm going to wrap up this post with a photo gallery you can pin from -