August Glacier National Park Itinerary
The phone rings all year round at our place. And more often that not, after a friendly conversation, we hear: “Will you just plan my trip to Glacier for me?”
And the answer is: of course we will! We love planning Glacier National Park vacations. Of course, everyone’s dream trip will be a bit different, based on what you want to see and how active you are. We’ve written up a number of itineraries over the years on our blog – be sure to explore it. This particular Glacier Park trip is a specific plan that incorporates one of our absolute favorite experiences in the park. Check it out!
Plan My Trip to Glacier: Day One
Whether you’re flying into Glacier Park International with your best friends and renting a car or road tripping with the fam, start your adventures in West Glacier, the park’s main entrance. Where to stay? Our recommendations:
On your first afternoon, settle in and get acquainted with the West Glacier area. You’ve got options – explore on foot or rent a bike! 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.”
If you’re biking, ride down the Gateway to Glacier Trail, which links West Glacier to the neighboring towns of Coram and Hungry Horse. You can 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!
Day Two: 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.
When you’ve driven the full length of the 52 mile road, you’ll be in St. Mary. Grab some lunch – if it’s Sunday, definitely head up the hill for Johnson’s of St. Mary’s family style fried chicken. Afterwards, you’ve got choices. Head north to explore the Many Glacier valley. Drive south to visit Browning, the capital of the Blackfeet Nation; the Cut Bank drainage; the Two Medicine valley; and the charming town of East Glacier. You can make a loop back to West Glacier via US Highway 2 – you’ll drive through Glacier’s southern tip if you take this route. And there’s the option to 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: Get Out Your Bucket List
Today’s the day you start out on an adventure you’ll remember forever. Early in the morning, you’ll 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’s reopening this summer!
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. 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 on Sperry’s porches).
Day Four: Sperry 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.
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.
Tonight, we’ll enjoy another delicious dinner in Sperry’s dining room, and spend a second night in the comfort of Sperry’s brand new beds.
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. Check back into your West Glacier lodging, grab some dinner (fine dining at the Belton Chalet, casual fare at La Casita), and call it a day.
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 in August), 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, 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!
Learn more about our 3 Day Sperry Chalet trip here:
Questions about planning your Glacier National Park vacation? From rafting, hiking, fishing, biking, lodging, equipment rentals, shuttles, and more – we can help. Check out our website or use the form below to get started on planning your adventures.