Glacier National Park's top wow spots
Fall in love with the park's unforgettable scenery―sapphire lakes, knife-edge ridges, hanging valleys, and towering peaks
Glacier's 762 mountain lakes are stunning for their sheer size and the towering mountains rising from the shores of their clear waters. Little Chief Mountain imposes a formidable flank over this high-altitude lake. Second in size to Lake McDonald, St. Mary is often frozen completely over in winter with ice up to 4-feet thick.
Moonlit nights provide wonderful extraordinary views of Mount Gould, Grinnell Point and Mount Wilbur at Swiftcurrent Lake. The deep, cold alpine lake is fed by many of the glaciers in the area, including the Grinnell. The largest hotel in the park, the historic Many Glacier Hotel, is located on its eastern bank.
Stretching northeast for some 10 miles from near the west entrance to the park, Lake McDonald has a beauty that seems easy, almost lazy, with dense forest sloping down to the glass-smooth water. Lake McDonald is the largest (10 miles long) and deepest (464 feet) body of water in the park.
Book time (a day by foot) to visit the park’s best-known and most accessible glacier, Grinnell. Its name honors environmentalist George Bird Grinnell, who lobbied Congress to establish Glacier as a national park in 1910.
Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun Road is 52 miles of wonderment: a sinuous lesson in geological, ecological, and human history on the largest possible scale. Three companies went broke trying to construct this mountain highway, which was finished―after 13 years of work by Italian, Russian, and Montanan laborers―in 1932. Considered an engineering feat, it is one of the most scenic roads in North America.
A river of ice left its ancient mark on conical Sinopah Mountain and carved out a hollow for shimmering Two Medicine Lake. Two Medicine Lake makes a perfect afternoon outing. If the water’s calm, you can rent a rowboat or canoe to paddle under the looming presence of Sinopah Mountain. Or you can take a narrated cruise on the handsome 1930s-era launch that bears the mountain’s name.
Going-to-the-Sun Road peaks at the 6,646-foot Logan Pass, bisected by the Continental Divide―which the Blackfeet Indians called the Backbone of the World. Mountains rise everywhere. A short walk on the 1 1/2-mile (one way) Hidden Lake Nature Trail will lead you past a subalpine meadow dotted with beargrass, to an overlook, and perhaps to a glimpse of mountain goats.
Hidden Lake is one of the most visited places away from the road in Glacier National Park. Lying nearly at the top of the Continental Divide, the overlook of the lake is easily reached by a relatively flat hike of 1.5 miles.