Visitor’s Guide to Glacier National Park

permanent snows

Glacier landscape ©Alaskan Dude/Flickr

One could spend a lifetime just exploring the Rockies, with their magnificent red rock canyons, valleys, glaciers, lakes and rivers. But for the usual suspects that make up the bulk of holidaymakers, there is a less time consuming way to see the best of the Rockies: visiting the national parks. There are plenty of national parks and reservations across the Rockies, but today I will only present the northern-most of them: Glacier National Park.

Like the name tells you, this park is famous for its glaciers – being so close to the Canadian border means that temperatures are never too high. This visitor’s guide to Glacier National Park will present you some of the best attractions in the park as well as some practical tips and tricks:

Getting there

The park is served by its own airport, called the Glacier International Airport, with good connections on the west coast. However, most people prefer to drive their own car, in which case the common route is Highway 2. Also, there is a shuttle service in the park (you’ll love those bright red vehicles when you will see them).

When to go

high altitude goats

Mountain Goats ©USFWS Mountain Prairie/Flickr

One important thing to keep in mind when visiting Glacier is that this is a high altitude, northern location, so it’s mostly accessible in summer – which, by the way, doesn’t last long here, just from late June to late August. Some of the roads are closed in winter, so make sure you check with the park rangers before going anywhere during this season. June is best for seeing the alpine meadows covered by colorful flowers and the waterfalls at their maximum debit.

What to see and do

As I have said before, glaciers and spectacular peaks are the great attractions in the park, although due to the global warming, these are highly endangered. Going to the Sun Road is another famous attraction in the park – a scenic high altitude road. There are hundreds of kilometers of well marked hiking trails in the park, guiding you along mountain river sides, dense pine woods, alpine meadows, lakes and waterfalls. The fauna is very diverse, from the common (in the park) mountain goat, to grizzlies, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, otters, beavers, as well as tenths of species of birds. Cruising  on one of its crystal clean mountain lakes is another favorite activity in the park.

Tips and precautions

Glacier ©Kevin Saff/Flickr

Weather can be quite unpredictable at such altitudes, so remember to always carry warm and rainproof clothes, even in the middle of summer. Another potential hazard that people often ignore is wildlife – make sure you never get to close to animals, as feeling threatened can make them quite dangerous. Also, check the weather condition and the state of park’s roads and trails in advance.

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