Glacier National Park is an outdoor lover’s playground. A hiker’s paradise. A nature lover’s muse. It’s also an ideal, affordable family vacation. With one single park entrance fee of $25, you and everyone else packed into your car, can enjoy hiking trails for all experience levels, walks alongside lakes of unsurpassed beauty, boat rides across shimmering crystal clear water, and experience some of the most amazing mountain vistas this side of the Rockys. Not to mention the amazing Park Ranger programs! Yep, my kind of budget vacation indeed!
Here’s a snapshot of what you and your family can enjoy in 5 days inside Glacier National Park, Montana. Be inspired. Explore the possibilities of all you can do in 5 days. Where else might a mid-July day include both a hike through a snowy pass and a hike through a field filled with flowers in full summer bloom!
Hike The Upper Two Medicine Lake Trail
With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier National Park is a hiker’s paradise. Yet many visitors skip Glacier’s southeastern region of Two Medicine, near East Glacier Village. For those who venture to this off-the-beaten path, their reward is some of the most scenic, least crowded, trails in all of Glacier.
With it’s relatively easy trails, and it’s eye-popping scenery, Upper Two Medicine Lake is perfect for introducing younger hikers to the adventures of day hiking. Not too hard, but not too easy, and lots of adventures to be had along the way.
Majestic mountain vistas and crystal clear lakes, cascading waterfalls and verdant meadows all a-flower, this awesome family friendly hike has it all. Check it out for yourself at Hiking The Upper Two Medicine Lake Trail – Family Adventures in Glacier National Park.
Drive The Epic Going To The Sun Road
Glacier’s iconic Going to The Sun Road is chock full of family adventure just waiting to be experienced! This epic 50-mile drive takes travelers through some of the most spectacular scenery and past some of the most grand vistas in all of the northern Rocky Mountains.
The drive itself, however, can become tedious with kids in tow if stops are not included. And there-in lies the secret of truly enjoying this breathtaking drive, whether or not your back seat is filled with kids. There are so many adventures along the way, from short and sweet, to grand and adventurous, that are best experienced by getting out of your car.
So park it! Then ditch the crowds and explore along trails less traveled. As they say, it’s all about the journey! Read more about the possibilities for an “out of car” experience along the Going To The Sun Road at 7 Must-See Stops Along The Going To The Sun Road.
Explore Logan Pass & Hidden Lake Overlook
So many stops along the Going To The Sun Road! If you only have time for one “out of car” experience, Logan Pass is it. This is the highest elevation reachable by car in Glacier National Park, and it’s where you’ll cross the Continental Divide. It is also immensely popular.
No worries. Though the parking lot may be packed with noisy tour busses and the boardwalk crammed with chatty tourists, it’s not hard to get away from all the commotion. Just look for the Hidden Lake Overlook trailhead and hit the trail.
The reward for hiking the trail less traveled? A family friendly hike to spectacular, uncrowded views across Logan Pass and Hidden Lake. Perhaps a snowball fight or two along the way. Oh, and maybe a mountain goat or bighorn sheep sighting too.
Take A Morning Trek To Avalanche Lake
All rested up? Great! You’ll want to make time for this trail while in Lake McDonald Valley. The four mile long Avalanche Lake Trail is perfect for an early morning family hike. What awaits at the end of the trail is well worth that early morning wake up call, especially if you make it to the lake for sunrise!
There at last! Grab a seat and settle in for a refreshing snack and a family photo. Oh, and of course, the main attraction – a front row view of this stunning mountain rimmed lake, complete with several glacial waterfalls spilling 100’s of feet over the distant cliffs. Check out all views of Avalanche Lake at A Misty Morning Trek to Avalanche Lake.
Enjoy Family Time Along Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald Valley is a veritable hub of activity on this end of Glacier National Park, and Lake McDonald Lodge is front and center to it all. It’s also perfect for a mid-vacation respite, to slow it down and recharge for the next adventure. Enjoy a casual lake-side meal, take a scenic boat ride, or just wander along Lake McDonald’s shoreline.
Score a lake-side cabin, and you’ll have all this outdoor adventure right at your doorstep. Just grab a nearby picnic table, settle in with a cup’o java, and let the kids loose. They’ll be entertained for hours. It’s also the perfect venue for catching gorgeous sunrises and sunsets across Lake McDonald!
Day Trip Into The North Fork & Bowman Lake
Day tripping into Glacier’s North Fork region is chock full of kid-friendly adventures. Enjoy easy peasy hikes along the way, watch for wildlife on the nearby cliffs, and enjoy a picnic lunch at the end of the road along the shore of spectacular Bowman Lake.
Though the final five mile, narrow, pot-hole filled dirt road drive to Bowman Lake may not be for the faint of heart, it’s worth the adventure. What awaits at the end of the road is scenery that is indescribable via photos. Take a moment to enjoy the peace and solitude of this vastly uncrowded, oft-skipped, yet incredible lake. You’ll be glad you did! And the kids will have a blast along the way!
Hunt For Geocaches
Got an afternoon of down time, begging for an adventure or two? The kids’ incessant chant of “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” has you desperately searching for something to stop the insanity? Well, here’s an adventure that’s sure to please – take them geocaching!
From scenic earth caches to treasure-filled boxes, the Glacier National Park area is prime real estate for geocache adventures. And who doesn’t love a treasure hunt! Learn how to create your own family geocache adventure at Geocaching – Your Next Summer Adventure?
Keep A Keen Eye For Wildlife!
Timing is everything, here in Glacier National Park, and that includes catching glimpses of local wildlife. Keep a keen eye open at all times, around every curve of the road, and across every field of the trail. You never know what – or who – you might spot up on that cliff.
Today it might be a mountain goat munching fresh grass up on the hillside above your car. Maybe it’s an itty-bitty squirrel trying to nab a bite of your lake-side dinner.
Imagine the kids’ excitement at their first ever grizzly sighting! Yep, that’s a grizzly bear. Saw this little cub wandering down a hillside, eating berries. No worries – we were safely tucked away in our car. Bears are not something to get out for a closer look at!
Plan Your Own Family Adventure To Glacier
Ready to create your own family-friendly exploration of Glacier National Park? Here’s a daily run-down of our Glacier National park adventures to help you plan your own.
- Day 0– Arrive at Glacier Park Lodge. Explore East Glacier Village and a few geocaches.
- Day 1– Day hike to Upper Two Medicine Lake.
- Day 2– Drive Going to the Sun Road to Lake McDonald. Hike to Hidden Lake Overlook.
- Day 3– Morning hike to Avalanche Lake. Relax and explore Lake McDonald in afternoon.
- Day 4– Day trip to North Fork and Bowman Lake.
- Day 5– Say good-bye to Glacier. Enjoy a few geocaches and short hikes on the way out.
Here’s some helpful planning links to get that vacation plan started.
- Glacier National Park
- Glacier Park Lodge
- Lake McDonald Lodge and Cabins
- Lodging in Glacier National Park
- Hiking The Trails
- Day Hikes In Glacier National Park
- 2015 Glacier Visitor Guide
Traveler’s Tip: Book your lodges early, and stay inside the park! Our choices were Glacier Park Lodge, in East Glacier Village, and a cabin at Lake McDonald Lodge. Both were ideal locations for the above activities, and we enjoyed the family friendly ambiance at each place.
Where’s Your Next Family Vacation?
Glacier National Park had long been on our National Parks bucket list and for great reason. Having now explored Glacier National Park, it is one our family’s all-time favorite national parks. We spent five days here, and only experienced a fraction of the park. We will most certainly return again one day!
How about you? Have you taken your family to Glacier National Park? What was your favorite experience while there? Do you think it’s a fab family vacation destination? Do share!
All images courtesy Carol B.
[tweetthis]Take the fam on an adventure exploring Glacier National Park, Montana. #travel[/tweetthis]