a week in glacier national park

When I think about the trips I’ve gotten to take over the last two years as a full time RVer, our recent trip to Montana remains at the top of my favorites. Glacier National Park has been floating upward on my bucket list for a very long time, so I was ecstatic when we decided to go for it in 2024. Glacier National Park is HUGE. We knew we wouldn’t be able to cover it, so most of this information leans toward things on the West Entrance of Glacier National Park, as well as Going-to-the-Sun road tips and tricks. 

My husband and I view our travels as a main source of education for our children and ourselves. Everywhere we go we meet kind and interesting people, dip our toes into unfamiliar cultures, and often learn more about ourselves than we ever expected. Our trip to Glacier was no different – full of beautiful views, new friends, and new landscapes to try out. 

I could probably write 10 pages about this trip, but since you’re here and likely looking for things to do and places to stay I’ll keep it [relatively] short and give you some highlights here in this post. I actually did write 10 pages (ok 12) about this trip and made it into a free full-color guide for those who like to go down rabbit holes! You can find it linked here. West Glacier Travel Guide .  Inside you will find recommendations for budget, moderate, and luxury escapes that are useful anytime of the year. 

Where we stayed: 
There are plenty of campsites and RV parks available on the west side of Glacier National Park. Since we knew we’d be there a little more than a week, we chose West Glacier RV Park which was the absolute closest park to the entrance (you can literally walk through the entrance if you’re adventurous enough). Since my husband and I are both digital nomads we felt that this was a good choice for us to be able to experience as much of the park as possible without wasting too much time commuting back and forth. The campsites are all full hook ups, level and clean, has great bathrooms/shower houses/laundry/and close-by food options. It’s a bit more pricey than your average campground, but the location cannot be beat. The campground also has adorable cabins to rent, and a small motel to utilize as well. West Glacier Village is right next to the campground and has a tiny grocery store, souvenir shops, a huckleberry hut, and a mini-putt-putt golf course. One tip for you: eat at Eddie’s Cafe in Apgar Village instead of Freda’s. You’ll thank me later! 

Trails we hiked:
On this trip we had both our young girls with us, so all of our adventuring had to be family-friendly and little-leg-friendly too. There are plenty of paved or boarded trails available to families with little ones, just remember to pack lots of water, snacks, and good shoes. 
Apgar Bike Trail: a well paved bike and walking trail that begins at the Apgar ranger station and ends right up on the water of Lake McDonald. There are several roads and trails that cross over, so be sure to be aware while using this trail. You’re likely to see a few deer or even an elk on this route when it is quiet. 
Hidden Lake Overlook: one of the more challenging hikes, but doable with multi-generational families. The elevation gain is about 500 ft, so you’ll want to take your time and acclimate. The out-and-back trail is about 2.6 miles and offers panoramic views most of the way. If you want to get good parking at the base of this trail, you’ll want to get to Logan Pass quite early as it is packed for most of the day even on shoulder season. 
Baring Falls: this is a great hike to do with kids, as they can get up and close to a waterfall at the end. The hike is about 0.8 miles long with about a 160ft elevation gain. Watch your steps, as this trail is not paved. 

Lake McDonald:
I was not prepared for the beauty of Lake McDonald! Since we were able to enter the park multiple days, we got to see Lake McDonald several times. It’s easy access from the Apgar ranger station and Apgar Village sits at it’s edge. You can play in the clear glacial waters and there’s several vendors in which you can rent a motorboat, a kayak, or a paddle board. We really enjoyed our time out on the water and the food at Eddie’s Cafe hit the spot after a long day in the park (and so did the ice cream parlor next to it). 

About Going-to-the-Sun Road [GTTS]
In Glacier, (and really in Montana as a whole), you should expect to have to drive a lot. Not only does this park boast over 1,500 square miles of rugged territory, it can take one car 4 hours to traverse the Going-to-the-Sun road from west to east without stops. There are a LOT of stops too. It is by far the most traveled road and it often goes under construction because of the harsh winters and the many travelers who use it spring to fall. You WILL need a pass to drive it, so we always suggest that you check the NPS website for the most updated information on passes and fees. 
Logan Pass: one of the most popular stops because of it’s surrounding beauty, many trailheads, and visitor center with plumbing. If you want to get a parking spot here you will absolutely want to get here early. You will see camper vans and early birds here even at 5 am! The park is open 24 hours a day in the summer and fall, and sometimes passes and parking registration isn’t needed if you get in the park before the ranger stations open. Be aware, this can change at anytime so it is important to have the proper ID and registrations that the NPS requires. Again, always update yourself on the NPS website. 
Big Bend: this tremendous part of GTTS road is unequivocally one of the most scenic gifts of the mountain range. It offers several stopping points such as the weeping wall, and a wildflower prairie. 
Jackson Glacier Overlook: you’ll want to plan your trip quick if you want to see this little slice of ancient ice before it goes away. Unfortunately, like many other glaciers this one has been melting faster than ever before. A very nice ranger was there with a telescope on one of our driving days and allowed our girls to view the glacier through it. 
Sun Point: this is another great family friendly trail system. A quick, easy hike that provides instagrammable views of St. Mary’s Lake near the eastern part of GTTS. 

Restaurants we tried:
Freda’s: aesthetically pleasing with all the creature comforts, this little food spot is good for when you’re short on time. Nestled right in West Glacier village you’ll enjoy the outdoor seating and beer selection. Be advised, you will pay premium prices like within most national parks. 
Eddie’s: perfectly placed in Apgar Village and will give you more food than you need (and then some). I could not finish my giant fish and chips plate and was sorry, because it was truly delicious. We really enjoyed this place AND we enjoyed the ice cream shop next to it! Don’t forget to try the huckleberry flavor. 
Belton Chalet: an upscale dining experience with subtle history. I adored this restaurant. The current owners have taken this 100+ year old chalet and have tried to keep every original piece as much as possible. They pay homage to the rail workers, adventure seekers, and first park visitors of the past that used the chalet for lodging and comfort from the elements. Here you’ll dine on wild game filets, enjoy elevated apps and have a hard time choosing from the extensive liquor selection. The servers also catered to my 6 and 7 year old daughters so this mommy could fully enjoy her dinner without much interruption. Oh, and the railway opposite the historical building still hosts trains that go by! 

Safety Considerations: 
– Do I need bear spray? Yes. There is never a good time to risk your life to wildlife. Although your risk of running into a black bear on most of the well-used trails are slim, it is not none. Bear spray can be purchased or rented at many of the surrounding grocery stores and in both West Glacier Village and Apgar Village. A healthy dose of common sense is helpful in this arena as well.  

Of course, there’s so much more I could say about this trip, but hopefully you’ve gleaned some good information if you’re working on your own trip to the west side of Glacier National Park.

As always, if you’d like some help making your U.S. National Park adventure come to fruition – my travel services are available for you to utilize! Get started today by using my contact form or scheduling a quick planning call here. 

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