Glacier Guides and Montana Raft

Winter In Glacier National Park – Bowman Lake

We firmly belive that Glacier National Park is a year-round recreation playground. While we, Glacier Guides & Montana Raft, primarily focus on summer adventure travel, we still get out and about in Glacier in the winter months. We think exploring this magical place between October and April is underrated, breaktaking and worth every warm layer and cup of coffee. We recently went out for a cross country ski to Bowman Lake it was nothing short of amazing. Take a look at our winter in Glacier National Park – Bowman Lake.

The Ski In

To start out this trip, we drove the North Fork Road, which follows the North Fork River. The drive shows the history of the Glacier Rim Fire in 2015 and gives way to amazing views. Cell reception is non-existent for the drive, making us look up from our screens and take it all in.

View from North Fork Road taken by guide Caiti Woods

We arrived in Polebridge, Montana, which hosts the ever-popular Polebridge Mercantile and The Northern Lights Saloon, classic Glacier summer spots. The flakes were fat and the temps around 20 degrees – a perfect day to be skiing in Glacier. We moved quickly, got into the park, and began to suit up for the trek.

The Entrance into Glacier National Park towards Bowman, Kintla and Quartz Lake trailheads.

As we glided forward, ski by ski, the snow only started to fall harder. We noticed several different animal tracks, filling in with each passing minute and took in the sound of silence. All we heard was snowflakes lightly landing and melting on our jackets and babbling creeks. This is one of 10 million reasons we love Glacier in every season and all the weather. Roads that are normally beaming with cars and people were left completely still and serene – there’s really nothing quite like it.

Bowman Creek follows the weaving road for about half a mile.

There are several steep hill climbs on the way to Bowman Lake, giving way for what our future held on our journey home. We followed tracks of skiers who had been here days prior and skated along and admired signs of past fires and aspen forests. Soon found ourselves surrounded by trees on both sides of the road and the creek was but a distant memory. We hadn’t even completed half of the trip yet and had so much more to see.

Winter in Glacier National Park - Bowman Lake
Winter in Glacier National Park - Bowman Lake
Winter in Glacier National Park - Bowman Lake

The snow soon let up and fewer snowflakes began to fall. The clouds seemed as if they were lifting the closer we got to Bowman Lake. We had high hopes for great views but knew there was likely going to be a lot of cloud cover and chilly temps once we arrived.

Winter in Glacier National Park - Bowman Lake

Arriving At Bowman Lake

We knew when we were getting close because after spending 5 miles climbing and flattening, then climbing and flattening again, it was time to descend into the lake. A few deer surprised us as we rolled into the Bowan Lake parking lot and glided onto the beach past the boat dock. Much to our surprise, we got amazing views of the Bowman Lake skyline covered in a light fog.

We spent mere moments admiring the snow-covered lake and mountains and listened to the wind whipping in the distance. Though it was hard to leave such a magnificent place after such a short time, our bodies were chilled and feet sore. It was time to head back to the car and our cozy cabin for the night.

The Ski Out

The journey back takes about half the time, as most of the ski is downhill, steep and fast. Pro Tip: If you ever decide to do this trip on your own, prepare for some intermediate to advanced terrain for the return trip – it is not for the faint of heart.

The outing wasn’t complete without one last meditative moment at Bowman Creek, right before the end of the trail. The snow had completely subsided at that point and the clouds started to part. We thanked Glacier for hosting us and peeled our feet from our boots – a feeling like no other! The remainder of our night was spend in a cozy cabin, the fire blazing in the wood stove. We promised to return the following winter, and every winter moving forward.

Winter in Glacier National Park - Bowman Lake

Are you planning a visit to Glacier National Park in the summer? We can help!

Join Glacier Guides & Montana Raft for a raft, hike, fish, bike or stay when you come to Glacier National Park. We over daily trips as well as overnight rafting, overnight fishing and backpacking trips through Glacier’s amazing backcountry (some of which start or end at Bowman Lake!) Visit our website, shoot us an email or give us a call with questions or to book.

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