Glacier National Park views

If you are planning to visit Glacier National Park, my 5-day Glacier National Park itinerary will give you a great guide for planning a fantastic trip. Whether you are considering this for a family vacation or even a Montana girlfriend getaway, this 5-day itinerary for Glacier National Park will be a great guide for a complete outdoor adventure vacation.

During the summer of 2020, our family wanted to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors, have some adventure, and try something different.

Glacier National Park was on our bucket list for some time. And honestly, it was the perfect time to visit any national park.

While we knew Glacier National Park was going to be special, we were blown away by its beauty, its majesty, and how different it was throughout the park. This park is one of the prettiest of all the national parks. In fact, it is reminicient of hiking in the Alps, which is why so many people love it.

We also loved seeing animals when visiting Glacier National Park, as some of them we had never seen before!

Montana is a really uniquely special place. It’s no wonder so many families flock there year-round. And my 5-day Glacier National Park itinerary is the perfect destination for families who want to experience Glacier National Park.

Especially for those families who want to hike and enjoy the great outdoors (if you plan on hiking in the park, you’ll want to make sure you have this essential hiking gear and this post with hiking with kids tips).

If you are visiting Glacier National Park, this Glacier National Park itinerary was our exact trip. Planning a family trip to this national park may seem a little overwhelming, so I wanted to create this post on a 5-day itinerary for Glacier National Park to make it more accessible for your next trip.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

This Glacier National Park itinerary post contains affiliate links which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you should you make a purchase using this link. See my disclosures.

Quick Guide Glacier National Park 5 Day Itinerary
St. Mary Lake Virginia Falls
St. Mary Lake, Glacier National Park Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

If you don’t have time to read this whole post, here’s a quick overview of my 5-Day Glacier National Park Itinerary. Got more time? Read on for details!

Day 1 In Glacier National Park

This can also be your 1 day Glacier National Park itinerary if you only plan to visit for 1 day.

  • Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan’s Pass
  • Hidden Lake Overlook
  • Highline Hike with Glacier Guides
  • 8-Mile Hike to Haystack Butte and Back

Day 2 In Glacier National Park

If you only have two days, days 1 and 2 can be your Glacier National Park itinerary in 2 days.

  • Polebridge and Polebridge Market
  • North Fork Road
  • Bowman Lake
  • Eat Lunch in Whitefish
  • Visit the Whitefish Ski Resort and Ride the Mountain Coaster

Day 3 In Glacier National Park

Got three days? Add this day to your Glacier National Park itinerary for 3 days.

  • St. Mary and Virginia Falls Guided Hike

Day 4 In Glacier National Park

If you are visiting for 4 days, this day plus the three previous ones can be your Glacier National Park 4-day itinerary. You may also be able to squeeze in Trail of the Cedars.

Day 5 In Glacier National Park

For your 5th day, this plus the four previous days will give you a comprehensive Glacier National Park itinerary in 5 days.

  • Breakfast at Sunflower Cafe Campground
  • Hike Trail of the Cedars to Avalanche Lake and Back (you can hike Avalanche Lake as well)
  • Visit West Glacier Shops 

A Note About This Glacier National Park Itinerary

glacier national park sign
Glacier National Park entrance in the North Fork area Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

There are so many fun activities to do in this park, like visiting Grinnell Glacier, Going To The Sun Road, Hidden Lake Overlook, and the Blackfeet Reservation, as well as hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, boat tours, and more.

Glacier National Park is so big that it is impossible to do it all in one trip. But my 5-day Glacier National Park itinerary is the exact trip we took with our kids, who were 8, 8, and 11 at the time.

If you are looking for a Glacier National Park 3-day itinerary or even a 2-day itinerary, you can cut out some things on this list. If you plan to be at Glacier National Park longer, you can add to this list and make a Glacier National Park itinerary with additional activities noted at the end of this list.

This Glacier National Park itinerary is full of fun, family-friendly activities that your kids are sure to love. Certainly, you can swap out anything in this list for any of the Glacier National Park itineraries to suit your family, their activity level, and their interest.

I have included additional things to do in and around the area to maximize your Glacier National Park itinerary and trip.

About Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park (Glacier NP) is considered the crown of the continent with its ancient forests, rocky mountains, stunning lakes, alpine lakes, and verdant meadows. The park has over 700 miles of nature trails and is the avid hiker’s paradise.

But don’t let that scare you from bringing kids! Glacier National Park is actually fantastic for families and kids.

While there are some hikes that are longer and more advanced, there are many activities and hikes that are great for kids that you can add to your Glacier National Park intinerary.

family in front of Logan Pass
Logan Pass in Glacier National Park Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

For those seeking solitude in a pristine wilderness, Glacial National Park is perfect for adventure seekers. You’ll be transported back in time with the infamous Going to the Sun Road and historic lodges and mountain chalets. 

The National Park Service website has more information on the current weather conditions, vehicle registrations, visiting during the off-season, and much more. You can also find a Glacier National Park map here as well.

Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park

Mount Cleveland is the highest point in the park at 10,466,’ and Logan Pass is the highest point accessible by car at 6,646′. Middle Fork River in West Glacier has the lowest elevation at 3,215′.

Glacier National Park actually is so big it goes into Canada as part of Waterton Lakes National Park. Waterton National Park is south of Banff National Park.

The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park was created in 1931 when Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park unified and became the first international National Park, as the beauty and benefits extend across the northern part of Montana into Canada.

It is important to note, though, that Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park are administered separately and have separate entrance fees.

Why Visit Glacier National Park

trail of the cedars glacier national park
Trail of the Cedars, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Glacier NP has incredible views, a variety of wildlife, and amazing activities for families. The kids will love going hiking and horseback riding while taking in the spectacular scenery. With this Glacier National Park itinerary, you can pick and choose or mix and match to create the perfect family vacation.

With 13 drive-in campgrounds, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a family camping trip out in the pristine woods. Stop at a visitor center, as there are three in and around the park, to learn more about the park and talk to the rangers who work there every day. Each visitor center has neat activities for kids. For instance, the Logan Pass Visitor Center has an interesting Super Powers Exhibit about creatures in the park that need special adaptations to survive the terrain.

The hiking trails are phenomenal, and you can even go on a guided family hike with park rangers or with a group like Glacier Guides. You can go on chalet hikes, full or half-day hikes, or stay overnight.

The guided nature tours of Lake McDonald Valley, Two Medicine Valley, and other gorgeous sights. One of our favorites started at the South Shore Trailhead at Two Medicine Lake. At the end of the trail to Two Medicine Lake, you’ll see sweeping views of Lone Walker Mountain, Painted Tepee Peak, and Sinopah Mountain.

Glacier National Park Map

There are three main areas in the park – East Glacier, West Glacier, and Many Glacier. Here is a map of Glacier National Park map to help you.

East Glacier

Glacier National Park
The views of Glacier National Park are so majestic! Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

This area is a 17-mile stretch of Going-to-the-Sun Road that begins at Logan Pass. As you travel east, it descends down to the town of St. Mary and Saint Mary Lake.

Wild Goose Island, one of the most photographed places in the park, is located near the lake too. It’s one of the opening scenes in the movie The Shining, so Wild Goose Lake may seem familiar to you.

Wild Goose Island is also a great place to stop for a picnic dinner or lunch, and the sweeping views from the Wild Goose Island Overlook are stunning. The Wild Goose Island Overlook is the perfect place for sunset pictures.

Like most of the park, East Glacier has some stunning views and popular locations like Grinnell Glacier and Swiftcurrent Lake.

West Glacier

West Entrance Glacier National Park
West Entrance Glacier National Park, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

This is the 33-mile stretch of Going-to-the-Sun Road that you access from the west side of Logan Pass. It’s the most popular area of the park, and you’ll find Lake McDonald Lodge, the Apgar Visitor Center, Highline Trail, Avalanche Lake, and the Loop here. This is also where you will find the Hidden Lake Overlook and Hidden Lake Trail, where you can see stunning views of the lake.

Logan Pass has many short hikes and pull-offs for sightseeing. In fact, Logan Pass is where you’ll start many of your hikes. On the days you’re hiking, be sure to get to the Logan Pass really early to find a parking spot or use the shuttle system as it gets busy there.

Many Glacier

Going To The Sun Road Glacier National Park
Going To The Sun Road, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

This area is a favorite area for hikers. You must leave the park from the east to get to Many Glacier, as you can access it off Going-to-the-Sun Road. Then you’ll re-enter the park at the entrance close to Babb, Montana.

There are many amazing hikes here, as well as several lakes. Two of the most popular hikes in Many Glacier are Grinnell Glacier and Iceberg Lake. If you decide to hike to Grinnell Glacier, be sure to bring bug spray, as the mosquitos can get bad here since it’s close to the water. Many Glacier has many great things to do as well.

You can go on Glacier National Park Boat Tours in this area, and it’s a great place to watch nature and wildlife like moose, elk, bears, etc. Honestly, this area is one of the best to take a family boat tour.

Another treat is eating lunch or dinner in the historic dining room at the Many Glacier Hotel. You can also hike to Redrock Falls or view wildlife at Fishercap Lake in Many Glacier.

About Glacier National Park's Reservation System
Did you know that Glacier NP is one of the top ten most popular U.S. National Parks? With over three million visitors each year, many of the park’s premier destinations experience overcrowding throughout the year.

As a result, the park has a vehicle reservation system for the North Fork area and the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor. This system helps reduce congestion in the park, protects the park’s valuable resources, and provides a better experience for visitors.

You will need a vehicle registration in these two areas when the reservation system is in effect.

There is also a fee for entering Glacier National Park. But if you have a National Park Pass (well worth it if you are visiting other National Parks or historic sites in the USA this year), you can get the annual pass for just $80.

Finally, if you have a 4th-grade student, you can enter the park for free with a special program by the National Park Service.

Epic 5-Day Itinerary for Glacier National Park 

With so much to do on your Glacier National Park vacation, it’s important to make the most of your time. You want to take in as many kid-friendly activities as possible, so an itinerary helps you plan for all the things you want to do, like Glacier National Park kayaking, hiking, boating, and more.

With so many things to fit into your daily schedule, this Glacier National Park Itinerary for 5 Days can help you maximize your time in the park.

Glacier National Park Day 1

  • Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan’s Pass
  • Hidden Lake Overlook
  • Highline Hike with Glacier Guides
  • 8-Mile Hike to Haystack Butte and Back

Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan’s Pass

View from Logan Pass
View from Logan Pass Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

On your 5-day Glacier National Park itinerary you can start at Going-to-the-Sun Road is the main thoroughfare through the park, but it’s only completely open during the summer. Different parts are closed in other seasons. There are many great trails to hike along the way, like Hidden Lake Trail, St.Mary Falls, and McDonald Creek. The Hidden Lake Trails was one of our favorites.

If you aren’t into long hikes, you could certainly drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road on one day of your Glacier National Park itinerary. There are many stops and overlooks where you can get epic views. But if you like hiking, definitely check out some of the hikes on this Glacier National Park itinerary.

Because this road gets very crowded during the summer, I suggest you start your day there early. It’s not fun to fight your way down the road only to get to the top of Logan Pass and find you can’t find a place to park.

You should plan on starting your first day at Glacier NP no later than 7 AM and even earlier if you can. My itinerary for Glacier National Park has your first goal of getting to the top of Logan PassF.

You can visit the Logan Pass Visitor Center to learn some park history and the local wildlife and plants.

Just past the Logan Pass Visitor Center, you’ll also find Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, which is another popular hiking trail with the Hidden Lake Overlook hike. You can also go to the Jackson Glacier Overlook, where you can see one of the few glaciers you can view from Going-to-the-Sun Road.

I highly recommend the Highline and Hidden Lake trails for awe-inspiring day hikes. Both Hidden Lake and Highline trails offer stunning views of the park, and you can take Highland to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. The Highline Lake Hike to Grinnell Glacier Overlook and Granite Park Chalet can get a little rough, but if you’re an avid hiker, you’ll love it.

Highline Hike with Glacier Guides

Highline Trailhead
Highline Trail starts right near Logan Pass. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Highline Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the whole park because the scenery is gorgeous. But the Highline Trail is for the brave because the first part is carved into a cliff edge, and it’s narrow – but don’t let that scare you off. It is not as scary as it sounds! It’s a longer trail that takes you to the Grinnell Glacier, so it’s definitely worth your time.

For many, it’s their favorite hike. Personally, I think this hike should be on any Glacier National Park itinerary if possible. It is that special.

Now, there ARE some parts that are narrow, but people can pass you. The first part has a rope you can lightly hold onto. But my 8-year-olds were able to do it with no problem. In fact, even I could do it (and I am afraid of heights!)

You can access it from the Logan Pass parking area or from The Loop parking lot. I suggest you take the Glacier National Park Shuttle up to the Logan Pass Visitor Center to the trailhead. Since the schedule changes regularly, make sure you check the shuttle service schedule before you plan your day.

If you go with Glacier Guides, they will bring you to Logan Pass and include lunch!

8-Mile Hike to Haystack Butte and Back

mom and daughter looking out at Haystack Butte
Haystack Butte, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Haystack Butte is part of the mountain located just above The Weeping Wall Glacier. It got its name because it looks like a haystack. The Haystack Butte Trail is approximately 8.20 miles long and is moderately challenging. It’s open all year, but the best time to hike it is late June – October.

This trail takes you to a peak that allows you to look out over the park and mountains, so I highly recommend you add it to your Glacier National Park itinerary.

If you’re lucky, you might get to see some mountain goats. Make sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks with you.

highline trail
Highline Trail is narrow, but you can pass people on it. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Note about Highline Trail

If you have older kids and feel they can handle the whole Highline Trail Loop, which is 11. 8 miles, it actually continues past Haystack Butte. The trail goes on to the Garden Wall, the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, and the Granite Park Chalet.

Honestly, though, this is really ONLY for advanced hikers (who have bear spray!) as it passes through Grizzly country. For kids school-aged and up, I would do the guided hike to Haystack Butte and back which is 8 miles in itself. If you have little kids, avoid the hike to Granite Park Chalet and the Garden Wall, as there are plenty of other great places for hiking.

Glacier National Park Day 2

  • Polebridge and Polebridge Market
  • North Fork Road
  • Bowman Lake
  • Eat Lunch in Whitefish
  • Visit the Whitefish Ski Resort and Ride the Mountain Coaster

Polebridge and North Fork Road

Polebridge Market trailer and views
Near Polebridge Mercantile, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Polebridge is located on the North Fork part of the Flathead River, just 22 miles from the Canadian border. You can get there from West Glacier by taking Camas Road from Apgar Village. After about 11 miles, turn right onto the trail at the Camas Creek Glacier NP entrance. From there, travel 25 miles to Polebridge.

You can also get to Polebridge from the Inside North Fork Road inside the park, but it’s very rough and often impassable. 

Polebridge Mercantile Montana
Be sure and stop at the Polebridge Mercantile for Huckleberry Treats! Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

There’s a little historic mercantile shop you can stop at on your way to Kintla and Bowman Lake. It was the only outpost for many early explorers of Glacier NP. Make sure you get the Huckleberry Treats!

The Polebridge Mercantile is a MUST stop on your Glacier National Park itinerary!

Bowman Lake

Bowman Lake with girl in front
Bowman Lake Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Bowman Lake offers stunning views, and it’s the perfect place to have a family picnic (or treats from the Polebridge Mercantile and hike around the lake. If you can, also take in a sunrise here as it’s spectacular.

To get to this lake, after you stop at the Polebridge Mercantile, you’ll continue past the Glacier National Park entrance, watch for the next left turn, and follow the signs to Bowman Lake Road. Once you turn onto Bowman Lake Road, you’ll drive for about 20 minutes, you’ll stop at the lake day use area and Bowman Lake Campground. 

Be sure to park in the day-use area, as you can’t park on the lakeshore. 

I highly recommend this stop on your Glacier National Park itinerary. In fact, while we were standing at the lake, we heard the sound of wolves howling. It is very serene and peaceful.

Eat Lunch in Whitefish

Whitefish Montana
Whitefish Montana, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Whitefish, Montana, is the perfect place to take a break from hiking and outdoor activities on your Glacier National Park itinerary. You’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops to visit. Our favorite places to eat are the Craggy Bar, Buffalo Cafe, Grouse Mountain Lodge, and Jalisco Cantina.

You can also eat at the Boat Club inside The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

Visit Whitefish Ski Resort and Ride the Mountain Coaster

mountain coaster at Whitefish Ski Resort
Mountain Coaster at Whitefish Ski Resort, Photo credit: Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

The Whitefish Ski Resort is only 19 miles from the Glacier Park International Airport, and there’s also an Amtrak train station even closer. With 200 on-mountain hotel rooms, mountain homes, and condos, the resort is a great place to stay for a ski vacation. 

Be sure to add the Alpine Slides (there are two) at the resort to your Glacier National Park 2-day itinerary. Children under 48 inches can ride for free, but they must be accompanied by an adult. It’s really fun, and the kids love the fun dips, turns, and ride through tunnels and under bridges.

Glacier National Park Day 3

  • St. Mary and Virginia Falls Guided Hike

Virginia and St. Mary Falls Guided Hike

family in front of Viriginia Falls Glacier National Park
Kids can hike to Virginia Falls! Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Every Wednesday, Glacier Guides offers a guided day hike to St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls.  Glacier Guides provides lunch, van transport to the trail, bear management training, first aid, and an interpretive guide. It is a great addition to your Glacier National Park itinerary.

It’s an easy to moderate 7-mile hike to the falls and back, and you usually get back around 4:45 PM at the end of the day. While it’s a slightly longer hike, it’s worth it to see Virginia and St. Mary Falls.

The Glacier Guides website provides the following itinerary for the day. The full-day Glacier National Park hike will include a drive nearly the length of the Going to the Sun Road to the Sun Point trailhead.

Hike to Virginia Falls
Virginia Halls Hike, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

From there, you hike to St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls through completely different terrain on the Mary Lake trail. You hike right up to the base of each of these waterfalls.

It is an easy hike, but it is long, so do wear layers and have good hiking shoes (be sure to add them to your packing list.)

Virginia falls and girl watching it in Glacier National Itinerary
Virginia Falls in Glacier National Park Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Once you reach Virginia Falls, the guide provides lunch, and then you return back. On the hike, you will see majestic views and possibly wildlife (we saw a moose!). And the knowledgeable guides provide fascinating glaciers, including the Salish, Kootenai, and Blackfeet Native Americans, as well as the early European trappers and explorers.

Glacier National Park Day 4

Whitewater Rafting Trip

White Water Rafting Glacier National Park
White Water Rafting in Glacier National Park with Glacier Guides, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids/Glacier Guides

In the morning, you can enjoy a whitewater rafting trip with either Glacier Guides or Great Northern Rafting. If your kids are not comfortable with whitewater rafting or are very young, there are calmer river rides you can take.

I highly recommend this experience on your Glacier National Park itinerary.

On our trip, we coasted down the Flathead River, immersing ourselves in the complete beauty and scenery of Glacier National Park. In fact, we saw a bear sitting in the river taking a bath!

He paid no attention to us. But it was an amazing experience to see him up close.

The rapids were fairly calm on the day we were there. But some sort of boat excursion is well worth doing on your Glacier National Park trip with kids.

Alternatively, you could take a Lake McDonald boat tour or horseback ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters during this time. Swan Mountain Outfitters offers horseback riding tours in Many Glacier, Apgar, and around Lake McDonald Lodge. We loved the horseback riding adventure around Many Glacier and other stunning locations.

Visit Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald Glacier National Park
Lake McDonald, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Lake McDonald is one of the most popular lakes in the whole park. You can go on boating adventures, go swimming, and more. It’s the perfect place to watch a sunset.

One of the best places to stay in Glacier NP, Lake McDonald Lodge, is located here. 

The park offers red bus tours, so this may be the perfect time to hop on a red bus and visit the area. The Glacier Red Bus tours leave from the east and west sides of the park, and Lake McDonald and Apgar Village are West Side departures in the park. This is a great add-on to your Glacier National Park itinerary.

Visit Apgar Village

Apgar Village is located two miles from the West Glacier entrance to the park and at the southwest end of Lake McDonald. You’ll find a visitor’s center here, as well as a camp store, boat rentals, and horseback riding. The largest campground in Glacier National Park, Apgar Campground, is close by.

If you want to add camping to your Glacier National Park itinerary, this may be the perfect place to stay. You can also rent cabins here. Make sure to book as far in advance as possible, as some places require reservations six months in advance, and some require 13 months.

This day would also be perfect for a white water rafting adventure in the Flathead River. The park website lists a few places you can sign up for full or half-day white water rafting tours.

Glacier National Park Day 5

  • Breakfast at Sunflower Cafe Campground
  • Hike Trail of the Cedars to Avalanche Lake and Back (you can hike Avalanche Lake as well)
  • Visit West Glacier Shops 

Eat Breakfast at Sunflower Cafe Campground

Sunflower Cafe
Sunflower Cafe. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

The Sunflower Cafe is tucked away in the Many Glacier Campground and serves food inspired by the owners’ travels around the world. The history of the location also inspires the cuisine as well. 

Breakfast here is a nice addition to your Glacier National Park itinerary. You’ll find food like Chilaquiles, a classic breakfast sandwich, and Huevos Bowl for breakfast here.

You can also stay at the beautiful Many Glacier Campground. If so, be sure to pack your camp french press for camp coffee in the morning.

PRO TIP: We HIGHLY recommend Montana Coffee Traders coffee out of Whitefish. You can get it at the local market near Glacier Nationa Park. It’s so good, we order it to our house!

Hike Trail of the Cedars to Avalanche Lake and Back

kids walking the trail of the cedars Glacier National Park
Trail of the Cedars, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

After breakfast, hike the Trail of Cedars to Avalanche Lake and back. It’s about four miles roundtrip. This trail is an easy hike as it’s one of the two wheelchair-accessible trails in the park.

It’s a popular trail, so it can be difficult to park during peak season. You’ll see moss, red cedars, and lush green ferns. The footbridge over Avalanche Creek is one of the highlights of the hike.

Now, sometimes the hike to Avalanche Lake is closed if say there is bear activity (which happened to us on one of the days!)

Visit West Glacier Shops 

West Glacier has many great places to shop and eat after your hike. The historic West Glacier Mercantile is here, and there’s also a gift shop. The Huckleberry Hut has teas, jams, and candies.

You’ll also find a few cafes to eat at while you’re there.

Glacier National Park Tips

St. Mary Lake Glacier National Park
St. Mary Lake Glacier National Park, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when visiting Glacier National Park.

  1. Give yourself at least 5 days in Glacier National Park if you can. It will give you the richest experience to see a large variety of terrain and enjoy activities.
  2. Make your Glacier National Park reservation early to make sure you can get in to see the park. I also recommend getting to the park early when you choose your reservation to get ahead of the crowds.
  3. Bring and drink WATER. Lots and lots of water. You will be at a high altitude, and this will be very important to stay hydrated and help manage your body to acclimate to the altitude.
  4. There aren’t a lot of Glacier National Park restaurants, but there are a few we loved nearby. West Glacier has a few places to eat and shops. La Casita Mexican Restaurant and the Sunshine Cafe were two of our favorites! There are grocery stores nearby where you can get supplies to cook in your cabin or to bring a picnic lunch.
  5. The Glacier National Park weather can change quickly. So be sure to have layers so you can add layers if it is cold and remove them if it is hot. Be sure to have good hiking gear for your Glacier National Park trip, including good hiking shoes, hats, a hiking pack, and water.
  6. Bring lots of water with you on hikes and a water filtration system in case you run out of water. During our Highline Trail hike, our guide had one, and without it, we would not have had enough water.
  7. Bring a picnic lunch to have along the trail and snacks (but do clean up after yourself!)
  8. If you don’t want to do some of the big hikes, you CAN drive the Going To The Sun Road and stop at some of the overlooks. But if you DO plan to hike with kids, you may want to consider booking a guided hike with Glacier Guides.
  9. The best time to visit Glacier National Park is July through September. Some of the park is open year-round. In fact, we snowshoed in it in January. But the Going To The Sun Road generally opens in late June, weather dependent.
  10. Grinnell Glacier Overlook is one of the most famous in the park. But you have to hike to Grinnell Glacier Overlook or take a boat ride to it from Many Glacier Hotel. You CAN see Jackson Glacier from the Going To The Sun Road. You could also add Iceberg Lake in here.
  11. Bring binoculars! We saw a bear on the mountain and a moose, and the binoculars were key.

Other Things to Do in Glacier National Park

There are plenty of other kid-friendly activities to add to your itinerary for Glacier National Park, such as:

red bus tour in glacier national park
Red Bus Tour in Glacier National Park Photo credit: © Snehitdesign |

Glacier Red Bus Tours

Take a ride on the historic Glacier Red Bus tours, which are part of the history of the park. The roll-back tops of the historic 1930s-style busses are perfect for getting ideal views of the mountains. Glacier’s Red Bus fleet is the largest of any park in the world. And it is definitely an iconic and memorable thing to do in Glacier National Park with kids.

Horseback Riding with Swan Mountain Outfitters

Swan Mountain Outfitters is a family-owned company that offers guided horse tours through the park. They offer the only ones inside Glacier National Park, and we love to go horseback riding every time we go.

Glacier National Park Kayaking

There are plenty of places to kayak inside the park, including:

  • Lake McDonald
  • Bowman Lake
  • Two Medicine Lake – Two Medicine Lake is a must if you have the time, and you can even take a boat tour. Two Medicine Lake was one of our favorite kayaking spots.
  • Swiftcurrent Lake
  • St. Mary Lake

You’ll also find places close by but outside the park, including:

  • Flathead River
  • Flathead Lake
  • Tally Lake 
  • Lake Five

Glacier National Park Boat Tours  

Take a boat ride on Lake McDonald for a fun but relaxing activity. The Lake McDonald Boat Tour lasts about 60 minutes and begins at the historic Lake McDonald Lodge. The lodge is a Swiss chalet located inside Glacier National Park near the westside park entrance.

You’ll leisurely cruise the lake on this boat tour and learn the history of Lake McDonald, and it’s a great place to watch wildlife. 

Fun Fact – Lake McDonald is the largest lake in the entire Glacier NP, and all the rest of the 168 lakes in the park combined do not equal Lake McDonald’s size.

Other Hikes

St mary lake glacier national park kid pointing
The weather can change in Glacier National Park, so be sure to wear layers! Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

There are many other hikes in Glacier National Park, including a hike on an active glacier – the Grinnell Glacier Trail hike. Hiking on the Grinnell Glacier Trail hike on an active glacier was very interesting.

If you want to hike a glacier, there is a short Grinnell Glacier hike that is well worth doing. The hike is about 7.2 miles long if you take a boat ride across Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake.

Otherwise, a longer 10.6-mile hike starts at the main trailhead on the Continental Divide Trail. The longer trail is a strenuous hike and climbs all the way up to the Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake

Other glaciers include:

  • Jackson Glacier
  • Salamander Glacier
  • Sperry Glacier
  • Sexton Glacier
  • Piegan Glacier
  • Vulture Glacier

Other hikes include:

  • Hike Hidden Lake Overlook
  • Hike to Grinnell Lake
  • Iceberg Lake Trail – You’ll find Iceberg Lake about 9 miles from the trailhead, and it provides beautiful views of the lake with ice floating in it. Iceberg Lake provides great scenery for family vacation photos.
  • Lake Josephine Loop – Lake Josephine Loop is a gorgeous hike around Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine.
  • Columbia Falls Trails – Cedar Flats Loop and Apgar Lookout Trail

When you pack for your trip, make sure everyone has hiking boots and comfortable clothes.

buffalo near Glacier National Park
Buffalo near Glacier National Park Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Visit Blackfeet Reservation

The Blackfeet Indian Reservation is the home of the Blackfeet Nation. It’s the largest population of Native Americans in Montana.

Stop by the reservation and visit the Pikuni Gift Shop, Museum of the Plains Indians, and Blackfeet Heritage Center to learn more about their native culture and the indigenous people of the region. The Glacier Peaks Casino is also on the reservation.

Where To Stay in or Near Glacier National Park

There are plenty of great places to stay in the park. We stayed at the Great Northern Resort and loved it. But here are several of the most popular places:

kids in front of great northern resort
Great Northern Resort near Glacier National Park Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

There are also several other campgrounds you can stay at in and around the park, like:

  • St. Mary Campground
  • Avalanche Campground
  • Rising Sun Campground
  • Sprague Creek Campground
  • Apgar Campground
  • Rising Sun Campground
inside Great Northern Resort
Great Northern Resort has cabins with kitchens and bedrooms! Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Getting To Glacier National Park

If you want to fly to Glacier National Park, the closest airport is in Kalispell, Montana, at the Glacier Park International Airport (FCA). It is about 30 miles from the West Entrance of Glacier National Park.

You can also fly into Bozeman (BZN) and rent a car. It is about a five-hour drive to Glacier NP.

Alternatively, you can take a road trip and drive there! If you’re coming from the Pacific Northwest or Rockies to the park, driving is the easiest way to get there. If you decide to do a road trip to Glacier, check out this road trip packing list to know what to bring with you.

Search for Flights To Glacier Here


Are 5 days enough for Glacier National Park?

Depending on your itinerary for Glacier National Park, you should consider staying at least 5 days in Glacier National Park, especially if you want to hike the longer, more strenuous trails. Spending 7 days in Glacier National Park is even better.

How many days do you need at Glacier National Park?

You can make a two or three-day trip to Glacier NP, but ideally, at least five days in Glacier National Park is better. The longer you can stay, the more you’ll get to see.

It really depends on your specific list of must-see sights and activities, but five days in Glacier National Park gives you more time for activities and sightseeing. This Glacier National Park itinerary is the exact one we followed, and it was a spectacular adventure!

Can you spend a week in Glacier National Park?

A Glacier National Park Itinerary for 7 days would cover most of the popular activities and places to see. With so many hiking trails and iconic sights, you could spend 7 days in Glacier National Park multiple times a year and still not see everything.

There are over 700 miles of hiking trails in the park alone. I would suggest visiting at least three to five days in Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park
The views of Glacier National Park are so majestic! Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Which side of Glacier National Park is best?

Many park visitors consider West Glacier the best area in the park. But the perfect one for your family depends on the activities you want to do and the places that are a must for your family.

The Westside of Glacier NP has heavier forests, including a rainforest called Avalanche. Forests on the Eastside aren’t as dense.

Both the west side and east side have great hiking trails. There is also plenty of wildlife to see on each side.

Both the west side and east sides have plenty of places to stay.

The weather is wetter in the west than on the east side, and you should always be prepared for rain and cooler temperatures there. The Eastside is warmer but windier.

Many Glacier is the third main part of the park and has beautiful pristine lakes, green valleys, and towering mountain peaks.

Should I stay on the east or west side of Glacier National Park?

It depends on the activities you want to do, and once you go, you’ll likely find your favorite areas. If you stay in East Glacier Park (or the East side of the park), you’re closer to Many Glacier, Swiftcurrent Lake, the Grinnell Glacier, and the main area, which makes East Glacier the best side for many visitors. 

We’ve stayed in multiple locations, but the east side of the park is perfect for the big sights and attractions like Mancy Glacier and the Grinnell Glacier.

There are fewer places to stay on the Westside, but this might be your preference. Just know if you decide to stay in West Glacier, that it’s a two-hour drive one-way to Many Glacier. If you decide to stay outside the park in the Whitefish area, it’s more like a three-hour drive one way.

What do I need to know before going to Glacier National Park?

Vehicles must register to enter the park. In addition to the $35 vehicle entrance fee for seven days, you’ll also need to buy a Glacier National Park Pass during this time. The winter rate is $25 from November 1 to April 30; otherwise, it’s $35.

Glacier NP offers a few ticket options. If you plan on visiting multiple national parks every year, it’s worth it to pay the $80 for an America the Beautiful Pass.

People visiting on foot, bike, or in an organized group in a non-commercial vehicle is $20 per person for a seven-day pass. The winter rate is $20.

You can also buy an annual pass to the park for $70.

How Do You Get from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone?

There are several ways to get to Yellowstone National Park from Glacier. Driving will take you approximately 8 hours. You can also take a train or bus.

You can fly from Glacier Park International Airport, the closest airport to Glacier NP, to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Kalispell. We loved Yellowstone, and I created this Yellowstone 3-day itinerary to help others.

break on highline trail. Family on rocks
Be sure and bring snacks and a picnic lunch to enjoy when hiking in Glacier National Park. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

When Is the Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park?

Many people visit the park from July to September because they want to fish and raft in the rivers, hike, and drive Going-to-the-Sun Road. 

July weather in the park is pleasant for most people, with a high temperature of 80 degrees and plenty of sunshine. 

Glacier National Park in September has great weather, too, with sunny warm days and nice cool nights. When October comes, it brings snow and, with it, certain road closures inside the park.

How Is the Glacier National Park June Weather?

Many people like to visit in June because the weather is mild and it is less crowded. So, if you don’t mind cooler weather, consider visiting in mid-June.

goat on highline trail
All kinds of animals can be seen in Glacier NP, including mountain goats! Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

What Are Some of The Glacier National Park Wildlife?

There are plenty of animals to see in the park, such as:

  • Mountain goats
  • Grizzly bears
  • Black bears
  • Deer
  • Moose
  • Elk
  • Rams
  • Moose
  • Various birds

And many more. Because of the bear activity, it’s a good idea to bring bear spray, especially if you’re camping. Bear spray is a must-have for our packing list.

Final Thoughts on Itinerary for Glacier National Park

No matter how many days you stay in Glacier National Park, you’ll never get bored. With over 700 hiking trails and more than 700 lakes and ponds (only 131 are actually named), there are plenty of activities to do.

Like my family, once you visit, you’ll want to go again, if for nothing else than trying to see some of the activities you missed during your first visit. I think planning 5 or 7 days in Glacier National Park is best because you’ll miss a lot with a trip shorter than that.

And if you plan on visiting multiple national parks every year, definitely consider getting the America the Beautiful Pass. It’s totally worth it and can save you a lot of money visiting parks every year.

I hope this 5-day Glacier National Park itinerary helps you plan an epic family adventure. I just know you and your family will love visiting this grand park as much as we do.

Like This Post? You May Also Like These Other National Parks

If you’re looking for other great places to hike and ski, check out these other articles on the best places to go hiking with your family:

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