Many of us here at Glacier Guides and Montana Raft — established in 1983 — are parents. Together, we have decades of experience with family friendly adventures in Glacier. Read on for our best tips!
7 Best Family Friendly Adventures in Glacier National Park
#1: Cool Off on the River!
It’s tough to beat a warm, sunny day on the river. There are many options around here for river fun, from raft, SUP, and kayak rentals, to full service guided excursions. The Wild and Scenic Flathead River has two forks that run along park boundaries: the Middle Fork and the North Fork. The Middle Fork has a stretch of class II-III rapids. The North Fork is calmer, class I flat water.
Pro tip: Class I doesn’t mean you don’t need lifejackets. Because the North Fork is free flowing and always changing, there are many log jams that are far more dangerous than churning whitewater. Never underestimate a river and always take every safety precaution possible.
Glacier Guides and Montana Raft offers guided trips on both rivers, ranging from half and full-day whitewater to mellow scenic flat water floats. For whitewater trips, the minimum age is generally 8, but that varies depending on river level. Be sure to check when you book. For scenic floats, we generally welcome those 3 and up! Also, if you’re looking to get away from it all, overnight rafting trips are a great option.
#2 Family Friendly Adventures in Glacier: Stargaze at Logan Pass
f you think Montana is Big Sky country by day, wait till you see it at night! The Glacier National Park Conservancy helps to host Star Parties each summer at Logan Pass! Check the park service events page for current dates. These star parties are free (you do need a park pass), but due to parking limitations, you need a ticket. Each ticket will allow admission for one vehicle (there is no limit on the number of people per ticket, but please follow seatbelt laws). You can usually pick up tickets at either the St. Mary Visitor Center (on the east side), or Apgar Visitor Center (on the west side). If you know you want to go, contact Park Headquarters to reserve tickets, sooner rather than later, as they tend to go quickly.
Read more about Glacier’s night skies, and recent International Dark Sky Designation, here.
#3 Family Friendly Adventures in Glacier: Enjoy a day at the lake.
Glacier’s lakes are a great place for unplugged, relaxing family time. Rent paddleboards (or inflatable kayaks, if that’s what floats your boat) from Glacier Guides & Montana Raft in West Glacier. Next, pack a picnic and head to the Fish Creek on Lake McDonald. Fish Creek has a great campground and a beautiful, shaded day use area.
Pro tip: all of Glacier is bear country (even the developed areas), and the rules for food storage while camping apply to day use as well, so make sure you know food storage regulations before you go.
If you want to get out on the water and let someone else do the work, Glacier Park Boat Company offers entertaining and educational daily tours on lakes in different areas of the park. Their boat captains are trained naturalists and gifted storytellers. In addition, their tours offer great scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities, and they have multiple launches per day to fit your schedule.
#4 Family Friendly Adventures in Glacier: Embrace your inner buckaroo.
Prefer your adventures on dry land? Got a horse crazy girl in your group? A little boy who wants to be a cowboy? Check out Swan Mountain Outfitters and book one of their trail rides in Glacier National Park. The minimum age for most of their trips is 7, but call for details, because some of their rides have different age requirements.
#5 Family Friendly Adventures in Glacier: Take a hike!
There are many hikes that make for family friendly adventures in Glacier. If your kids are still small enough, load ’em up in a pack (we rent these if you’d prefer not to travel with one) and do the work for them. If they are too big for that, don’t worry, there are many trails that are perfect for all ages, ability levels, and attention spans. For a list of ten easy day hikes in Glacier that are perfect for kids, click here. If planning a hiking trip for your family sounds like more work than fun to you, Glacier Guides and Montana Raft offers many options for family friendly hiking adventures.
Pro tip: Glacier National Park is home to many wild creatures, including grizzlies and black bears. Take proper precautions when hiking, including carrying bear-strength pepper spray, making noise around blind corners and not hiking alone. For more info about the bears found in Glacier, go here.
FAQ: My kids are good hikers now. What about backpacking with kids in Glacier National Park?
We recommend it, if you’re an experienced backpacker. If you’re not, contact us to make arrangements for the perfect, custom backcountry experience. We can even find someone to help you haul your extra gear!
#7 Family Friendly Adventures in Glacier: Get off the grid in Polebridge.
Polebridge, Montana, is one of the most unique places you’ll ever visit. Situated just a few miles from the Canadian border, along the North Fork of the Flathead River, this one of a kind, off-the-grid community is the perfect place to spend the day. It’s about a 40 minute drive from West Glacier. Most of the road is unpaved and it can be bumpy or dusty at times, but the reward is well worth the effort. Polebridge is home to the Polebridge Mercantile, and any local you meet around here will tell you their baked goodies and fresh sandwiches can’t be beat anywhere. There is a hostel there, as well as cabins, and a yurt nearby that are available for rent, so if you have the time, make it an overnight adventure.
4th of July in Polebridge
Polebridge has a population of about 59 people, except on the 4th of July, when the town explodes with smiling faces. There’s a parade, complete with a float contest, all-day live music on an outdoor stage, and delicious food at an adjacent restaurant, the Northern Lights Saloon. The Northern Lights is a great family friendly restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating, that serves fantastic burgers and pizza.
Pro tip: Get there early, bring lawn chairs and snag a spot along the road to watch the parade. Also, it’s a good idea to bring a blanket to lay claim to a spot near the stage to enjoy the music.
Questions about Family Friendly Adventures in Glacier National Park?
Don’t be afraid to call upon our group knowledge as experts on Glacier National Park and as inexpert parents. We’ve yet to meet an expert parent, ha! But we’d love to help you plan your perfect Glacier National Park vacation all the same. 406-387-5555