Plan My Trip to Glacier National Park: The July Edition

July In Glacier National Park

Vacation – we all want it. But not all of us want to plan it. So, here’s your July Glacier National Park Itinerary, from your Glacier National Park guides since 1983!

What’s Open In July In Glacier National Park

Although Glacier National Park is busy in July, with a little advance planning, you’ll have an amazing experience in what many call the Crown Jewel of the National Parks! July is the perfect time to check out all that Glacier offers in the summer — especially if you’re a first time visitor. Typically, most everything you want to see is open by July – visitors centers, campgrounds, roads, trails, activities, hotels, etc.

The magical Middle Fork of the Flathead River – which forms Glacier’s southwestern border – clears up and drops to the perfect level for super fun, but family friendly rafting, and awesome fly fishing, too. Most – although not all – hiking trails are open as the snow melts off the Continental Divide that bisects the park. And the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road is typically open in its entirety by July.

July in Glacier National Park Weather

The weather in July is typically fabulous – warm, sunny days and cool, starry nights. However, it can and does snow every month of the year here! And living on the Continental Divide means that we sometimes see the spectacular convergence of east and west air masses, i.e. summer thunderstorms. Read up on the West Glacier forecast and East Glacier forecast here. Check current conditions via Glacier’s webcams here. Even in July, we always have layers like fleece tops and rain jackets with us, everywhere we go – here’s our packing list for day trips.

That being said, here’s a look at average highs and lows.

Day 1 Juy Glacier National Park Itinerary: Welcome to West Glacier

Lake McDonald
West Glacier is located just a short distance from Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park.

Ok – you’ve prepared, you’ve packed, you’ve arrived! Welcome to West Glacier. This tiny, charming town is the main entrance to Glacier National Park, and marks the start to the Going-to-the-Sun Road. There’s an Amtrak station in West Glacier, and the Middle Fork Flathead River flows through here, too. Adventure definitely begins in West Glacier!

Staying as close as possible to the park entrance is ideal, so that you’re within walking / biking distance to services, but also not far from the entrance gates in the morning. Here’s a list of local lodging options to consider. On your first afternoon, settle in and get acquainted with the West Glacier area. Grab an ice cream cone to savor while you admire the turquoise beauty of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River from “Downtown West Glacier.” Walk or bike into the park and enjoy the paved bike trails and gorgeous Lake McDonald views from Apgar.

You can also ride down the Gateway to Glacier Trail, which links West Glacier to the neighboring town of Coram. Grab a great slice of pizza at the Glacier Grill and a fabulous cocktail at Glacier Distilling. Meet the locals and drink an ice cold beer at the Stonefly. Play a round of putt putt at the Amazing Fun Center on the way back to West Glacier!

West Glacier bike rental
E-bikes are a super fun way to explore the West Glacier area. Debbie Picard photo.

Day Two: Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Today’s the day to drive the Going to the Sun Road! Get up early if you’d like a chance to park at Logan Pass, the high point of the famous Road. But if you don’t get a parking spot (or if you don’t like getting up early – we don’t judge, you’re on vacation!), don’t sweat it. The entire length of the road is absolutely stunning, and well worth making a day of.

There are plenty of pullouts with incredible views and interesting interpretation, and a number of trailheads along the road. So, while Logan Pass is beautiful and has a Visitor’s Center, it’s not the only must-see in the park. There are also good Visitors Centers at Apgar and St. Mary, on the western and eastern ends of the Sun Road. There are pit toilets at the Avalanche, Logan Creek, and Jackson Glacier pullouts, too. Here’s a link to a great Going-to-the-Sun road driving guide that we recommend.

Going to the Sun Road
You never know what you might see on the Going to the Sun Road! Guide Jeff Compton photo.

When you’ve driven the full length of the 52 mile Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll arrive in St. Mary. From here, you have several choices:

  • Head north to explore the Many Glacier valley
  • Take Duck Lake Road to visit Browning, the capital of the Blackfeet Nation
  • Hop on Highway 89S to see the rustic Cut Bank drainage
  • Continue south to the stunning Two Medicine valley and the charming East Glacier village
  • Loop back to West Glacier via US Highway 2 – you’ll drive through Glacier’s southern tip if you take this route.
  • Or return to West Glacier the way you came, over the Sun Road. The perspective changes from west to east, and then east to west. There’s always something new to see on this special road!

Day Three: Bucket List

Today’s the day you start out on an adventure you’ll never forget. Early in the morning, throw a leg over a horse or lace up your hiking boots (the choice is yours!), and set out with a Glacier Guide over 6.7 miles to amazing Sperry Chalet. You’ve probably heard about this stonewalled historic hut in Glacier National Park. In 2017, a forest fire burned part of the chalet down. Over the last two summers, it’s been rebuilt, and it reopened in 2020 to rave reviews!

Sperry Chalet Glacier National Park
Sperry Chalet, August 2020, Glacier National Park

Sperry Chalet – a National Historic Landmark – was built in 1913 by the Great Northern Railway. The chalet complex includes several buildings, including a full service dining room and kitchen, dormitory for sleeping (this is what’s new in 2020), and a few small outbuildings for staff housing and maintenance. There’s also a fairly modern pit toilet/sink area (cold water only, no showers) in between the dormitory and the dining room.

After you arrive at the Chalet, and get settled, you’ll have an opportunity to walk up to Lincoln Pass with your guide and look down on the Lake Ellen Wilson drainage.

Lake Ellen Wilson and Lincoln Lake viewed from Lincoln Peak, Glacier National Park
Lake Ellen Wilson and Lincoln Lake viewed from Lincoln Peak, Glacier National Park.

Done with walking for the day? Settle into a camp chair on Sperry’s famous porches and commune with the mountain goats and the Lake McDonald valley. You probably don’t even realize how much you need to just sit down without your phone. We can’t think of a better place to reconnect with your family (kids 10 and up can go on this trip!) and friends (the ones you bring and the ones you’ll make) than on Sperry’s porches. Tonight, we’ll enjoy a delicious dinner in Sperry’s dining room, and spend the night in the comfort of Sperry’s brand new beds.

Day Four: Get Up Close and Personal With A Glacier

Ready to reach out and touch one of the park’s largest remaining glaciers? That’s your bucket list item for today! First, savor a made-to-order breakfast in the Sperry Chalet dining room. Next, join your guide for a 2.5 mile hike up to stunning Comeau Pass. The trail from Sperry to Comeau has been called the most beautiful 2.5 miles of trail in America on more than one occasion. There are rock gardens and sparkling pools and more waterfalls than you can count! It’s a hike you’ll never forget.

Next, climb through a stone staircase to reach stunning Comeau Pass. From there, you can drink in seemingly endless views of Glacier’s peaks, including the Little Mattherhorn, Gunsight, Edwards, Cannon, Clements, Bearhat, Reynolds, Going-to-the-Sun, Matahpi, Gould, Bishop’s Cap, Little Chief and Siyeh.  Walking on from the pass, you’ll follow cairns for about a mile and a half to Sperry Glacier. Soak up some glacier time before returning to Sperry Chalet the way you came.

(p.s. there are lots more Sperry videos on our YouTube channel)

Sperry Trail, Glacier National Park
Above Lake McDonald on the Sperry Trail, Glacier National Park

Day Five: Goodbye to Sperry

Watch dawn light up Comeau Pass, which you’re now intimately familiar with. Tuck into another great breakfast, and then bid Sperry goodbye. With your Glacier Guide, you’ll hike out from Sperry Chalet, back to where you started at the trailhead near Lake McDonald Lodge.

You’ll probably be ready for a hot shower and cold drink at this point! Continue on your awesome July Glacier National Park itinerary by checking back into your West Glacier lodging. Get that shower, and then grab some dinner. We love the fine dining at the Belton Chalet, and the casual fare at La Casita. You can get more of our dining, lodging, and activities recs in our Insider’s Guide to Glacier National Park.

Day Six: Time To Hit The River

You’ve driven the Sun Road, soaked up local color in the West Glacier area, and seen both a National Historic Landmark and a glacier! Time to relax on Glacier’s stunning border river, the Middle Fork Flathead. If you like fun, splashy, not-scary whitewater (ours is typically class II-III), we offer full day and half day trips.

If you’d prefer a fairly flat float, where you can simply relax in the summer sunshine, check out our half day scenic options. A rafting trip is the best end to your perfect Glacier National Park vacation! Tomorrow on the July Glacier National Park itinerary, it’ll be time to head for the airport, post your Sperry snaps on Insta, and start planning your next trip to Montana. We’ll be here to help.

July in Glacier National Park Tips

Fly into Glacier Park International, airport code GPI. Our friendly little airport is about 45 minutes away from West Glacier, where we are located at Glacier Guides and Montana Raft. Insider tip: flights and rental cars fill up early in the year. Book them at the same time, and don’t wait till the last minute to reserve! There aren’t enough to go around, and there also aren’t enough Uber and Lyft drivers to meet demand in the summertime. Montana’s a great place to get away from your problems, but don’t let transportation become one of them. Reserve your flights and rental cars early and often.

Need Help With Your July Glacier National Park Itinerary?

From rafting, hiking, fishing, biking, lodging, equipment rentals, shuttles, and more – we can help. Check out our website or use the form below to ask us for help planning your adventures.

p.s. we’ve written lots of Glacier itineraries over the years — so many ideas for you here! You can subscribe to our blog here.

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