From wildlife to wild and wintry landscapes, winter is a magical time to experience Glacier National Park. And while it’s perfect for a peaceful, winter wonderland adventure, there are some important things to note while planning your trip to the park this time of year. Please know before you go and plan accordingly to ensure a memorable time.
PARK ACCESS AND RECREATION
Snow falls early and often in Glacier National Park, closing most of the park’s roads to motorized vehicles. That means you can snowshoe and Nordic ski these beautiful, snow-covered routes. Going with a guide is the perfect way to ensure an ideal experience. The Glacier Institute guides three winter programs: Full Moon Snowshoe, Winter Snowshoe, and Winter Tracking Adventure. Glacier Adventure Guides offers snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and rentals, including winter camping gear. Whitefish Outfitters and Tour Glacier both offer combo guided driving tours and snowshoe treks through Glacier National Park, with the option to customize time and location for your group. Glacier Outdoor Center offers winter rentals on snowshoes, crampons, trekking poles and ice axes, and for lodging has one-bedroom cabins. Here’s a National Park Service map of popular trails.
While the Apgar Visitor Center is closed, the restrooms are available and drinking water can be found here. Be aware that cell service is limited or nonexistent in the park. Check the weather before you head out, prepare for snow, and dress for rapidly changing conditions. Plan to be self-sufficient and bring any gear, food and necessities for your activity.
Avalanche safety should always be top of mind when you’re headed into the deep stuff. Carry avalanche safety gear, know the red flags of an unstable snowpack, check the avalanche forecast, and get educated in avalanche safety.
LODGING + CAMPING
Glacier National Park lodges are closed during the winter months, but not all lodging in the park is. Plan ahead and you may be able to secure a spot at Glacier Bear Cabin in West Glacier or Apgar Lookout Retreat in Apgar. Otherwise, consider a stay outside the park in one of Glacier Country’s charming small towns. Some of our lodging recommendations include Cedar Creek Lodge, ROAM Beyond, and Wonderstone at Glacier in Columbia Falls.
If you’re an experienced winter camper and stargazing is on your itinerary, Loop “B” of the Apgar Campground is available for primitive camping and has some of the best night skies in the area. Note: The campground has a vault toilet, no running water, and availability is first-come, first-served. For the more adventuresome, backcountry camping is also an option with an advance reservation, and permits are available here.
BE WILDLIFE WISE
When the park is quieter, the likelihood of spotting wildlife increases. While spotting a moose, elk or fox may be on your bucket list, remember to stay at least 25 yards from all wildlife (100 yards from bears). Never approach, touch or feed wildlife, even when an animal does not seem to be threatened by your presence.
Please note: We ask that all our visitors and residents Recreate Responsibly by being mindful of the following: know before you go; plan ahead; play it safe; leave no trace; tread lightly; and help build an inclusive outdoors.
December 11, 2023