6 Days Backpacking in Glacier National Park – A Week in the Wilderness
A Week in the Wilderness
There are over 700 miles of hiking trails in Glacier National Park, so the best way to see the park is on foot. The 6 day Glacier National Park backpacking tours are for those who wish to forget about civilization for a while and to visit the more remote parts of the park. You’ll spend your days in subalpine and alpine environments amongst Glacier’s towering peaks. On the trail, your guide will point out features of interest, identify flora and fauna, and be on the lookout for wildlife. You’ll be camping in Glacier’s beautiful and remote backcountry campgrounds. Almost all campsites are located near lakes or streams, offering opportunities for fishing or swimming. Take a look below for more details on itinerary, suggested fitness level and typical routes we take!
Other Price: Glacier National Park Entrance Fee (not included in price)
Guide Tip: Industry rate is 18-20% (not included in price)
Dates: This 6 day backpacking trip happens every Sunday between the dates of June 16th and September 1st, 2024
Trip Duration: 6 Days
Minimum Age: 15
Want to know how we determine the physical rating of this trip? Visit our ratings page here!
What Should I Bring?
What’s provided? Do you need a sleeping bag? View our packing list for additional information.
Itinerary & Additional Details
For trips starting in mid June onward, we will have permits in early February. Feel free to ask us what we have scheduled for a particular date. For trips in late May and early June we won’t know exactly where we’re going until the day before the trip.
Mid – Late June: Early Season (Difficulty 3-4: Moderate)
- We’ll start hiking at the Chief Mountain Customs trailhead and explore the Belly River area then hike up towards Mokawanis and Stoney Indian Pass. This usually means a layover at the head of Glenns Lake.
July – Early August: More Terrain Options (Difficulty 5: Advanced)
- We love exploring Glacier National Park’s Belly River for our backpacking adventures. You’ll experience wildflower fields, towering snow-capped peaks and beautiful backcountry lakes. After a few days spent at lower elevations, we typically climb over Redgap Pass or head to Ptarmigan Tunnel and into the always amazing Many Glacier Valley.
- Another 6-day option begins in Two Medicine and climbs over Dawson/Pitamakan Passes into the Cutbank Area. From there, we would spend a night at Atlantic Creek Campground and then over a 2nd pass, Triple Divide Pass into St. Mary
Early August – Early September: Opportunities Abound (Difficulty 5: Advanced)
- A popular route this time of the summer includes starting at Chief Mountain Customs trailhead into the Belly River area. We will spend a night at Glenns Lake Head Campground and then up and over Stoney Indian Pass. From here, we continue North and West towards Browns Pass and onto Bowman Lake.
- A fan, and guide, favorite for a 6-day option includes hiking the ever-popular Highline Trail, past the historic Granite Park Chalet and onward to Granite Park Campground. From here, we head to the breathtaking Fifty Mountain and spend the night at this awe-inspiring place. Our journey will then continue to Goat Haunt and then west over Browns Pass to Bowman Lake.
- Explore a less traveled area of Glacier National Park when we begin in Two Medicine, hike up and over Two Medicine Pass (which tends to be covered in huckleberries in early August) and out of the park via Lake Isabel and Park Creek drainage to Walton.
- Dust off that passport because we may start one of our trips in Waterton, Canada. Begin your adventure by boarding a boat on Waterton Lake, then embark on a hike from Goat Haunt, heading south and then east, traversing Stoney Indian Pass to reach the Belly River, or go west over Browns Pass to arrive at Kintla Lake.
Here is a general description of what you might expect!
Arrive at our West Glacier office at 8:30 am to meet your guide. You’ll go over your gear and split up food and equipment among the group. Depending on the itinerary, you may expect a 1 to 3 hour van shuttle to the trailhead. We should be on trail between 11:30 to 12:30! Expect to hike approximately 6-8 miles the first day. Our guides are passionate and encyclopedic about Glacier National Park — no matter your level of hiking experience, we promise they’ll teach you something new as you hike. Our first night’s camp is likely to be on the shore of a beautiful alpine lake, surrounded by majestic snow-capped peaks, or nestled in a secluded valley next to the peaceful sounds of a babbling creek. After setting up camp, your guide will prepare an incredible backcountry meal.
On the subject of meals, you will be amazed by what our guides cook for you. We like to eat, and it shows. Our in house kitchen staff, who assists our guides in trip preparations, believes in sourcing locally, purchasing organic when possible, and fueling your body with the best available, homemade food. You won’t find commercially freeze dried one bag meals on this trip! We can also accommodate nearly any dietary restriction or preference – just ask.
In the mornings, you’ll awaken to a cup of fresh, organic, fair trade coffee or tea and a hearty breakfast. In late summer, your guide might sprinkle freshly picked huckleberries onto your protein packed pancakes! After breaking camp, expect to be on the trail between 9:00 am to 10:00 am, depending on the mileage for the day. The average backpacking day is about 8 miles. A longer day could be up to 12 miles – in that scenario, expect to break camp a little earlier. Lunch is usually made along the trail next to a relaxing creek or on a scenic pass. After arriving at that night’s campground, you will set up camp and refill water while your guide prepares another delicious dinner.
On the last day, you’ll hike out to the trailhead to meet your shuttle driver. A delicious deli lunch awaits you, which will be a fine treat after 6 days in the backcountry. Typically, we return to the Glacier Guides and Montana Raft office around 4 pm, although that can vary.
Things To Keep In Mind:
- We rate our 6-day Trips as ADVANCED. Those who wish to join need to be reasonably fit and exercise regularly
- Not only will you be carrying what you bring along for your trip, but you’ll also need to carry your bag of food for the trip (which your guide will pack for you ahead of time) with a starting weight of about 6-8 pounds. They’ll hand these bags to you at the start of your trip before leaving Glacier Guides office in West Glacier. Make sure there’s room in your bag for this added weight!
- The total weight of your pack will come in around 40lbs! Try on your pack and walk around before you leave Glacier Guides in the event you may need to remove some items.
- Mileage on these trips on average hits around 8 miles a day with some days being closer to 12 miles!
- Average elevation gain will be 500 to 800 feet while a strenuous day is 2,000 to 3,000 feet (for example, if you hike over a pass, which tends to happen on our 6-day trips). Starting elevations on the west side are around 3,000 feet while the east side trailheads start around 5,000 feet. Circling back to the importance of pack weight at line item #3. Every ounce counts! Only bring items that feel necessary to have in the backcountry – that you’re willing/able to carry for 6 days – and leave behind items you can live without.
If you’re not comfortable carrying a heavy pack, don’t stress! Send us an email to inquire about porter availability and add a porter to your guided trip. If a 6-day is right up your alley but you’d like to make it your own, great! Give us a call and let’s chat about a private, custom trip!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Our guides pack and prepare all meals and are great backcountry cooks. You’ll enjoy delicious, largely locally sourced and organic meals. We are happy to accommodate special dietary needs upon advanced request. Please let us know what they are when you book your trip.
- Group size will be no larger than 8 people per backcountry trip. 7 guests per guide.
- Don’t forget your passport, because some of our trips during mid July through early September either start or end in Waterton, Canada!
Add an Overnight Rafting Trip to your backpacking adventure in order to see even more of Glacier. Her southwestern border is formed by the Wild and Scenic Middle and North Forks of the Flathead River. Don’t miss your chance to relax by these turquoise waters after your backpacking trip! You’ll receive a 10% discount on the 2 Day Raft Trip if you make your reservation for the 8 Day Hike/Raft Trip, which includes the discount. Or just give us a call at 406-387-5555 and we’ll get you set up.
Glacier National Park Backpacking Trips Meeting Notes
Guests should call our office the day prior to departure at 406-387-5555 or 1-800-521-7238 to check-in. The day of the trip, you should arrive at our office at 8:30 AM to meet your guide. Click on directions for how to find us.