Glacier Nature Walk and Whitewater 2019-02-09T21:58:04+00:00


Morning Nature Walk in Glacier

This easy half day trip in Glacier is the perfect introduction to the park. You’ll learn about Leave No Trace outdoor ethics, forest fire science, history of early settlers, and river ecology, while enjoying the views along two different, short trails.  

Difficulty: 2 short, easy walks in Glacier National Park 

Each walk is about 1.1 to 1.2 miles, minimal to 180 feet elevation gain and loss

Time: 9:00 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, Memorial Day through Labor Day

Trip Duration: Approximately 3.5 hours

Let’s Go For a Couple of Short, Easy Nature Walks in Glacier National Park

Enjoy a ride in our van through the Lake McDonald Valley on the way to our Nature Walks in Glacier.  Then, we take a leisurely walk on a .6 mile paved path to the McDonald Creek Oxbow – 1.2 mile round trip.   Next, enjoy vistas into the park from the Camas Road. We’ll stop at several viewpoints, such as McGee Meadows and McDonald Creek. Finally, we end up at the Wild and Scenic North Fork of the Flathead River.  There, we walk the Forest and Fire Nature Trail for about 1.1 miles.

What is provided?

Interpretive Guide with first aid kit and bear spray, van transport, snacks, hiking poles.

What should I bring?

Comfortable walking shoes, water bottle, camera/phone, binoculars, rain coat, fleece, and your Park Pass. Check out our extensive packing list for day trips here.

Nature Walk in Glacier Itinerary

Times are approximate!

9:00 a.m.  Meet your guide at our West Glacier office at 9 am. Your guide will do a quick orientation, check your gear, and go over last minute details. We drive into Glacier National Park via the West Glacier entrance, 1 mile from our office. Don’t forget your park pass!

Lake McDonald Valley

Once in Glacier, we will walk 1.2 miles round trip through the Lake McDonald Valley.  This is a glaciated valley, and we will walk on the terminal glacial moraine that dams Lake McDonald.  This area is characterized by lodgepole pine forest left from a 1927 fire. You’ll delight in seeing the aquamarine waters that flow from Lake McDonald. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for this valley’s resident beaver and moose!

The Forest and Fire Nature Trail

Next, we’ll load up in our van and continue our adventure by driving the short distance to Glacier’s North Fork Valley. Along the way, we’ll stop at various viewpoints until we reach the Wild and Scenic North Fork of the Flathead River. Here, we’ll take another short, easy walk on The Forest and Fire Nature Trail. This 1.1 mile loop weaves in and out of new growth lodgepole pine and aspen forest.

The Forest and Fire Nature Trail area burned in 1967 and again in the 2001 Moose Creek Fire.  There are beautiful views and fantastic opportunities for interpretation along this loop. You will learn about a variety of tree and plant species, fire impacts, and wildlife inhabitants along the river corridor. Views include Glacier National Park, the North Fork of the Flathead River, and the Flathead National Forest.

This nature walk in Glacier is easy but not completely flat: the trail climbs gains and loses about 180 vertical feet in elevation.

Early Afternoon

After we’re done walking, we’ll return along the same route by van to the Glacier Guides and Montana Raft office. As we drive, be sure to ask your guide any remaining questions that you might have.  Our guides are passionate and have encyclopedic knowledge about Glacier National Park — no matter your level of hiking experience, we promise they’ll teach you something new.  You’ll end the day knowing more about Glacier National Park than you ever expected!

1:00 p.m. Typically, we return to the Glacier Guides and Montana Raft office no later than 1:00 PM. A delicious, homemade sack lunch will be waiting for you. We like to eat, and eat well. Our kitchen sources locally and organically whenever possible. Enjoy our shaded pavilion while you eat, and volleyball, gift shop, and free Wi-Fi between trips!

Afternoon Whitewater Experience

After a relaxing morning walking short, easy trails in Glacier National Park, get ready for an exciting afternoon! Enjoy a half day whitewater rafting trip on the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

Difficulty: Moderate

Time:  1:45 meeting time, 2:15 p.m. launch, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Memorial Day through Labor Day

Trip Duration: Approximately 3 hours, but on this undammed Wild and Scenic River, the trip’s length does depend on the river flow. In June – early July, the trip lasts approximately 2.5 hours. Mid July – early August, approximately 3 hours. Mid August – end of season, approximately 3.5 hours.

Glacier National Park Rafting Trips

Guided Glacier Park whitewater rafting trips give you a fascinating look at the park’s ecosystem and history. Plus, they’re fun — there is endless adventure on the Flathead River’s turquoise waters! This trip offers fun, splashy Class II-III whitewater on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. This Wild and Scenic river forms the southwestern border of Glacier National Park.

What is provided?

Interpretive Guide with first aid kit, helmets, life jackets, and all river gear. If necessary, wetsuits and booties are also included at no charge.

What should I bring?

Be sure to wear clothes you won’t mind getting wet.  See our Packing List – Day Trips page for more information about what you will need for the trip.

Safety First

Safety is always our #1 priority. Our guides undergo rigorous training each year in river rescue techniques, wilderness first aid, and more. Many of our guides return to us year after year, decade after decade. Our new guides are required to run hundreds of miles of the Flathead River before they can graduate from our Guide School. We carry radios on all of our raft trips. All of our equipment is state of the art and impeccably maintained. If conditions call for wetsuits and river shoes, or if you would prefer to wear splash gear, it is always available at no cost.

Age Limits

Minimum ages for children will depend on the flow of the river, but generally speaking, there is a rafting trip for every age and ability between 3 and 103! We do have a minimum age of 5 for our whitewater trips and 3 for our scenic trips. These minimums may be higher if the river levels are higher, as they often are in the early summer. Be sure to call the office to inquire: 406-387-5555 or

Meeting Notes

Guests should call our office the day prior to departure to check in: 406-387-5555. The day of the trip please arrive at our office by 9:00 AM. We are located 1.5 miles west of West Glacier on U.S. Highway 2. Look for our Glacier Guides and Montana Raft sign on the north side of the highway between mile marker 151 and 152. Our property is just off the highway, tucked in the trees. When you see our sign turn to the north and you will see us shortly thereafter. Detailed directions and maps are available here.

Dates and Pricing

Dates: Tuesdays and Thursdays, Memorial Day through Labor Day

Price Adult: $120 – Lunch is included and Whitewater Trip is offered at 10% off in this combination Experience
Price Child (11 – 5*): $101
Additional Fees: $20 park entrance fee ($35 for family — see entrance fee details here), 7% River User Fee and gratuity for guide not included.

Reservations required in advance.

*Please read more about age minimums on the river, above. Safety is always our #1 priority.

Rather just go on a Nature Walk in Glacier? Check this out.

Hiking Gallery

Rafting Gallery