Glacier National Park is a stunning showcase of America’s natural beauty. Its majestic mountains, peaceful lakes, magnificent glaciers, and rich wildlife have captivated countless visitors. If you’re planning a trip to this remarkable national park, one of the gems of the U.S. National Park system, you’ll want to know how to get there.
Path to Glacier
When it comes to reaching Glacier National Park, there’s a multitude of avenues to explore. Among the various options, air travel emerges as one of the most convenient and accessible choices.
Numerous airports are situated in proximity to the park, serviced by major airlines that facilitate seamless journeys to this natural wonderland. Nestled closest to Glacier National Park, Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in Kalispell, Montana, serves as a primary gateway for many visitors.
Just a scenic 40-minute drive from the West Entrance, this airport offers a convenient starting point for your adventure.
- Missoula International Airport (MSO): Located 140 miles from the West Entrance, this Montana airport provides an alternative entry point to the park.
- Great Falls International Airport (GTF): At a distance of 200 miles from the West Entrance, this Montana airport offers another avenue to consider.
- Calgary International Airport (YYC): For those traveling from outside the U.S., this Canadian airport, located 280 miles from the West Entrance, can serve as an initial landing point.
- Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN): Positioned 300 miles from the West Entrance, this Montana airport is another viable option.
- Spokane International Airport (GEG): Situated 320 miles away in Washington state, this airport extends an option for those traveling from the western part of the U.S.
For international travelers, Calgary International Airport and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport are key hubs for connecting flights to airports near Glacier. Once you arrive at your chosen airport, the next step is navigating the final leg of your journey to the park.
Navigating Your Way
Once you arrive at the airport nearest to Glacier National Park, you have a few different options to reach your ultimate destination:
- Rent a car: This is the most convenient option, as it will give you the freedom to explore the park at your own pace. There are several car rental companies located at each of the airports near Glacier.
- Take a taxi or shuttle: This is a more affordable option, but it will be more limited in terms of where you can go. Taxis and shuttles are typically available at each of the airports near Glacier.
- Take the bus: The Glacier National Park Express offers bus service from several airports to the park. This is a budget-friendly option, but it is also the slowest. The bus stops at several locations within the park, so you can get off at the one that is most convenient for you.
Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind as you embark on your Glacier-bound voyage:
- Early Bird Catches the Flight: Especially if you’re planning to visit during the peak season (June to August), it’s wise to book your flights well in advance to secure the best deals and availability.
- Strategic Airports: Sometimes, flying into a larger airport and then taking a connecting flight to an airport closer to Glacier can save you both time and money. For example, flying into Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and then taking a connecting flight to Glacier Park International Airport can be a cheaper option than flying directly into Glacier Park International Airport.
- Ground Transportation: Once you’ve landed, renting a car or arranging for a taxi service is essential for reaching the park, given the absence of public transportation. If you are renting a car, be sure to book your reservation in advance, especially during the peak season.
- Park Entrance Fee: The entrance fee to Glacier National Park is $35 per vehicle. The pass is good for seven days. You can purchase the pass at the entrance station or at any of the visitor centers in the park.
- Weather: The weather in Glacier National Park can change quickly, so be sure to check the forecast before you go. The park is located in a mountainous region, so it can be cold and snowy in the winter and hot and humid in the summer.
- Wildlife: Glacier National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, wolves, and mountain goats. Be sure to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to avoid encounters with wildlife.
To get a clearer picture of your journey, here are some additional details:
- Flight Times: Flight durations vary depending on your departure city. On average, flights from major U.S. cities usually take around 2 to 3 hours to reach Glacier. However, if you are flying from a more distant city, such as New York or Los Angeles, your flight time may be longer.
- Airfare: Your airfare costs will depend on your departure city and the time of year. Be prepared for higher costs during the peak season (June to August). During this time, it is also advisable to book your flights well in advance to secure the best deals and availability.
- Park Entrance Fees: A pass to enter Glacier National Park costs $35 per vehicle and is valid for seven days. You can purchase the pass at the entrance station or at any of the visitor centers in the park.
Wonders of Glacier
Once you’ve made your way to Glacier National Park, a world of natural wonder and outdoor adventure awaits. From exhilarating hikes and serene camping experiences to captivating fishing trips and tranquil boating escapades, the park offers an array of activities to suit every nature lover’s preference.
Wildlife enthusiasts will also find themselves captivated by the diverse fauna that calls the park home.
Top Glacier National Park Activities
- Hiking: Glacier National Park has over 700 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks. Some of the most popular hikes include the Highline Trail, the Grinnell Glacier Trail, and the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail.
- Camping: There are over 130 campgrounds in Glacier National Park, ranging from primitive campsites to full-service RV parks. Some of the most popular campgrounds include Many Glacier Campground, St. Mary Campground, and Two Medicine Campground.
- Fishing: Glacier National Park is home to over 50 species of fish, including trout, salmon, and whitefish. Some of the best fishing spots in the park include Lake McDonald, Swiftcurrent Lake, and Lake Josephine.
- Boating: Glacier National Park has over 700 miles of shoreline, making it a great place to go boating. Some of the most popular boating activities in the park include kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
- Wildlife Viewing: Glacier National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, wolves, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and elk. Some of the best places to see wildlife in the park include the Many Glacier Valley, the Two Medicine Valley, and the North Fork Valley.
When is the best time to fly to Glacier National Park?
The best time to fly to Glacier National Park is during the summer months (June-August). This is when the weather is most pleasant and the park is open for visitation. However, the summer months are also the busiest time to visit the park, so be sure to book your flights and accommodations early.
How much does it cost to fly to Glacier National Park?
The cost of flying to Glacier National Park varies depending on the time of year, the airport you fly into, and the airline you choose. However, you can expect to pay around $300-500 for a round-trip ticket from a major city.
What to consider when choosing an airport for Glacier National Park?
- Distance to your desired park entrance.
- Availability of rental cars, shuttles, taxis, and public transportation.
- Cost of flights and transportation to/from the airport.
- The number of direct flights from your city.
- Personal preferences and travel plans.
Glacier National Park offers a captivating experience for nature enthusiasts, with its breathtaking landscapes and a multitude of outdoor activities. Whether you prefer invigorating hikes, tranquil camping, captivating fishing, or serene boating, this sanctuary caters to all your cravings for outdoor enchantment.
Regardless of your interests, there is something to love in Glacier National Park. Don’t waste any more time, start planning your trip to this extraordinary world of natural grandeur today.