Are you thinking about coming to Glacier this spring, but not sure what to do?
The park is open and it’s a great time to explore as the snow melts, rivers flow and everything starts to turn green. Spring is also a good time to get some great deals on lodging because most places offer discounted rates.
- Go rafting. Most rafting companies start offering scenic and whitewater trips in the beginning of May. LOCAL TIP: Reservations are recommended because in early spring, some launches don’t go out if there are not enough people signed up.
|Spring runoff on the Middle Fork.|
- Bike/walk the Going to the Sun road. Take advantage of the fact that the road is closed to vehicles and enjoy this amazing corridor without cars. LOCAL TIP: Always keep your distance from wildlife, bring bear spray and check the hiker/ biker status of the Going to the Sun road before you leave.
|Seeing wildlife is common in the spring on the GTTSR. Photo by Becky Lomax.|
- Take a boat ride on the lake. Glacier Park Boats start their DeSmet tours on May 25th.
- Look for wildlife. Go for a morning/evening drive along the Camas Road. Drive and look around for your best chance of seeing bears, deer, coyote, moose or even mountain lion. Please respect all wildlife by keeping your distance and remember that you must obey all traffic rules.
- Check out the historic Lake McDonald Lodge. It opens for the season May 25th.
- Take a trail ride. The Apgar corral opens May 25th and the Lake McDonald corral opens June 1st for trail rides.
North Fork Valley
- Bike or walk the Inner North Fork road. Choose from a ride from Fish Creek to Polebridge, or ride into Bowman or Kintla Lake. This is great pre-season, when the roads are closed to vehicles. Please note that these roads are dirt.
- Eat baked goods! Cookies, bear claws, sandwiches, bread…the Polebridge Mercantile opens for the season on April 26th and it’s a great addition to a day up in the North Fork.
- Look for wildlife. The meadows up in this valley are known for their deer and elk, but I’ve been lucky enough to see bear, coyote, moose and even wolf up there (again, please respect all wildlife).
The Belly River
- Go backpacking. The Belly River Valley is by far one of the best places to go backpacking in Glacier in the early season. The lower elevations are usually free of snow and the scenery is breathtaking. You can easily spend a week in this waterfall, wildlife and flower filled valley.
|The Belly River in June 2012.|
LOCAL TIP: Bring gaiters and good waterproof gear, because the trails in this area have been known to be marvelously muddy in the spring.
St. Mary Valley
- Bike/ walk the Going to the Sun road. Similar to the west side of the park, the road is open part of the way up and then gated off to vehicles.
- Hike. There are some great little trails that you can enjoy as the snow starts to melt. Try the lake trail, St. Mary Falls or the Red Eagle trail.
|St. Mary Falls.|
- Boat tours out of Rising Sun boat dock start on June 22nd.
- Eat pie. A favorite among locals for their pie, the Two Med Grill, is open year round.
LOCAL TIP: If you have your heart set on a certain type of pie, order it before your meal to ensure that you get a piece.
Many Glacier Valley
- Take a boat ride. Starting June 14th, the boat company will start running it’s popular tours. These rides are known for the chance of seeing wildlife.
- Check out and stay at the Historic Many Glacier Hotel. It opens for the season on June 12th.
- Hike. The upper section of most trails will definitely have snow, but the lower elevations are usually spectacular with flowers. LOCAL TIP: If you are used to walking on snow, you will be able to get higher on the trail (I have been up to Iceberg many times in the spring). However, the Grinnell Glacier trail is usually closed by the Park Service about half way up until the avalanche chutes are melted out.
|The Iceberg Lake trail in June.|
- See Many Glacier by horseback. The corral there is scheduled to open June 15th this year (weather dependent).
- Eat Mexican food! No adventure in Two Medicine is complete without a trip to Serrano’s in East Glacier. They officially open May 1st…but expect a wait; it’s very popular. Not to worry though, they let you drink margaritas on the porch.
- Visit the lobby and gardens of the historic Glacier Park Lodge. It opens for the season May 28th.
The gardens may not be this full in early spring, but the lodge lobby makes it worth the visit.
- Have a picnic at Running Eagle Falls. The short trail can have a bit of snow on it, but the rocky shores of the river are a great, sunny place to picnic when it’s good weather. Perfect for those with small children since there are tons of rocks to throw into the river.
Picnic at Running Eagle Falls on Mother’s Day 2012.
- Take a boat ride. The historic boat rides on the Sinopah start on June 8th.
- Hike (although this valley is one of the last to have the snow melt). The first two thirds of the Scenic Point trail is a great spot since most of the snow will probably be gone from this aspect, and the views are amazing.
- Go camping. Get away from the crowds in this little known valley. There will probably be snow on the higher sections of trail, but the meadows can be fantastic for spring flowers.
The road into the Cutbank Valley.
So don’t be discouraged if you see that the Going to the Sun Road is not fully open yet, because the park is open, ready for a beautiful experience. As we always say, “You won’t know if you don’t go!”