Glacier Guides and Montana Raft

6 Reasons Glacier Park Should Be On Your Bucket List

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts about why Glacier National Park should be on your bucket list. So, without further ado, I present to you …

6 Reasons Why Glacier National Park Should Be On Your Bucket List

Spring Wildflowers Glacier National Park Montana

If Glacier National Park isn’t on your bucket list, it should be.

1. Glacier National Park Hiking Just Can’t be Beat.

With with 734 miles of trail to explore, Glacier National Park really is a hiker’s and backpacker’s dream. Therefore, whether you’re pulling the tags off your first pair of hiking boots, or you’re a seasoned mountaineer looking for a challenge, Glacier’s got you covered.

Pro tip: Glacier is grizzly bear country, so hike in groups, make plenty of noise along the trail, and carry bear spray. If you’d rather someone else handle the logistics, pack your lunch, and carry the bear spray, join Glacier Guides for a guided adventure. 

st mary lake glacier national park

Many of the park’s glacially carved lakes have mellow trails along the shores. Photo by Jeff Compton.

trail in Glacier Park

If you’re looking to test your limits, Glacier Park has plenty of trails, like the Dawson-Pitamakan traverse, for that, too.

Grinell dayhike

The hike to Grinnell Glacier will check “seeing a glacier up close” off your list. Grinnell Glacier is a challenging 10+ mile hike, so bring snacks and water.

2. Glacier National Park Sunsets Will Blow Your Mind.

Who doesn’t love a good sunset? They call Montana “Big Sky Country,” and trust me, the sky somehow seems even bigger in Glacier Park. Especially at sunset. Make sunset hour another reason that Glacier National Park should be on your bucket list.

Bowman Lake Sunset

When you watch the sunset at Bowman Lake, it’s hard to believe there has ever been a single problem in the entire world.

sunset at Hawksbill

There are a handful of backcountry sites in Glacier that are highly sought after. However, I often find that the less-known spots have a magic all their own. Especially in the sunset hour.

middle fork sunset

The Belton Bridge, on the edge of West Glacier, is a favorite sunset spot for locals. Watching the light reflect off the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Flathead River is definitely bucket list worthy!

_3. Glacier National Park Rafting is One of Montana’s Best Kept Secrets.

The more time I spend in Glacier, the more enthralled I become with the rivers here. Glacier is bordered on two sides by rivers. The North Fork of the Flathead River makes up the western boundary. The Middle Fork of the Flathead makes up most of the southern boundary.

These waterways each enrich the Glacier ecosystem, and because of that, as well as their jaw-dropping beauty, both are protected as National Wild and Scenic Waterways. Therefore, they are the perfect places to enjoy our long summer days. You can have an exhilarating whitewater adventure. Alternatively, enjoy a mellow, relaxing afternoon float. If your bucket list includes getting away from it all, both the Middle and North Fork offer great multi-day trip options.

Pro tip: Glacier Guides and Montana Raft offers half-day, full-day, and overnight trips on both rivers, as well as raft, inflatable kayak, and paddleboard rentals, so you can join an all inclusive expedition or rent gear and plan your own adventure.  

white water rafting glacier national park

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, book a trip on the class II and III rapids of The Middle Fork’s John Stevens Canyon.

rafting glacier national park

If you’re looking to get away from it all and relax, the class I North Fork is the way to go. Don’t let the calmer looking water fool you though. Because of its Wild and Scenic designation, the river is left in its natural state and log jams are not removed, so always wear a life jacket and take proper safety precautions.

montana rafting

Guided overnight rafting trips are the perfect way to see a side of Glacier that few people get to see. Plus, it’s practically a scientific fact that steak tastes better in the backcountry, especially when someone else makes it for you. 

Camping riverside is a must-do for anyone who loves spending time outside.

Camping riverside in Glacier Park is a must-do for anyone who loves spending time outside. Photo courtesy of Amy Hansen-Bartles

glacier rafting

The Middle Fork also has mellow sections where you can relax and soak up Glacier’s stunning scenery if whitewater isn’t your cup of tea.

4. Glacier National Park Should Be On Your Bucket List So You Can Unplug, Unwind, and Feel Like a Kid Again.

Nature provides an opportunity to reclaim our thoughts. It gives us space to make decisions, set priorities, and have conversations without being interrupted from a dozen different directions. In this day and age, it’s all too easy to forget to take the time to turn off the chatter, take a break in the sunshine, and play. Just one more reason Glacier National Park should be on your bucket list!

hiker relaxing at Helen Lake

Sure beats falling asleep in front of the TV.

hiker jumping into Glacier Pond

Plunging into a pond of melted glacial ice will give you an entire off season’s worth of bragging rights.

Cosley Lake swimming

This father-son duo spent the better part of an afternoon perfecting their synchronized diving routine in Cosley Lake.

Elizabeth sunset

As the saying goes, “there’s no wi-fi here, but we guarantee you’ll find a better connection.”

5. The Solitude.

In a time where people are more connected than ever, to everyone and everything all the time, solitude is a treasure. The vast spaces of Glacier Park are an ideal place to enjoy peace, quiet, and solitude. You can make disconnecting a priority, here.

Lake Francis, Glacier National Park

Standing in big places that make you feel very small is good for the soul.

Gunsight campground

The simple rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other in a beautiful place is amazingly powerful.

Hiker at Overlook on the Brown Pass trail.

Glacier’s wild and wide spaces can help you keep things in perspective.

6. The Community.

Yes, nature is about getting away from it all, but I’ve also found that time in nature connects people in an especially powerful way. One of the coolest things about guiding backpacking trips is seeing new friendships form and existing relationships deepen. In the backcountry, everyone eats in the same area. As a result, mealtime often turns into a time to share stories with other hikers. These times in the food prep area are an opportunity to connect with folks that have one thing in common: they all felt compelled to head into the mountains.

This sense of community also applies to people you meet in visitor’s centers, at scenic overlooks along the road, and at the huckleberry stands on the edge of the park. There is a commonality that comes from being in the same overwhelmingly beautiful place.

climbing brown pass

Taking on challenges and overcoming obstacles creates a sense of accomplishment that can be more satisfying when shared.

group hiking in Glacier

People sometimes show up for our trips not knowing anyone else they will be hiking with, wondering how they will fit in with the group. Watching the group come together and develop meaningful, lasting friendships is one of my favorite parts of my job.

unwinding at camp

There’s nothing like a cutthroat game of backcountry Uno to create lasting friendships.

gunsight food prep

Even the people you aren’t hiking with can become fast friends if they decide to share their freshly caught rainbow trout.

Glacier National Park Should Be On Your Bucket List

I hope you’ll come see for yourself why Glacier National Park should be on your bucket list!  Tell us the reasons that it is or is not on your bucket list. See you out there …


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