Glacier National Park is one of the most epic regions on the planet. Known as the “Crown of the Continent,” this national park features jagged mountains, lushes forests, and over 700 miles of trails. That said, it’s no wonder why this area is called a hiker’s paradise.
If you’re looking for an adventure to one of the nation’s most beautiful areas, Glacier National Park should be on your list. Furthermore, it’s the perfect destination for camping in your van! The area has 13 campgrounds and approximately 1009 front-country campsites. With these camping spots located within the park, some of the best hikes in the world are right outside your door! All you have to do is wake up, make some coffee, throw on those hiking shoes, and experience nature on a grand scale.
Keep reading to learn more about Glacier National Park, including what to do, where to hike, and how you can make the journey an unforgettable adventure in your campervan!
Glacier National Park: The “Crown of the Continent”
Established in 1910, Glacier National Park offers about one million acres of vibrant, glacier-filled land. In fact, the park currently has 25 active glaciers. However, due to constant thawing and melting, these glaciers are quickly changing.
Visitors flock from all over the world to witness the immaculate beauty of Glacier National Park. A tourist hotspot is “Going-to-the-Sun Road”, a 50-mile route that offers incredible views around every corner. This road is the park’s most popular attraction.
If hiking is up your alley, this park is definitely for you. You can find hiking trails for all ability levels, and even long backpacking trails that span dozens of miles. If you’d rather vancamp outside the park, there are several places to stay. As this region can get extremely cold during the winter months, which closes some roads in the park due to snow, it’s best to visit during the summer.
Where to Stop Along the Drive
Depending on where your journey begins, heading to Glacier is quite the adventure. However, there are plenty of cool spots to experience along the way.
When driving up towards Glacier, you can see various landscapes, epic views, and tons of different attractions. If you’re coming from Arizona, make sure to stop at the Grand Canyon for some one-of-a-kind views.
If Southern California is your starting point, Yosemite and Death Valley National Park should be on your list of places to stop. Utah also has several breathtaking views and attractions, so consider passing through Zion National Park and Salt Lake City.
If you’re traveling east into Glacier, you may start in the Pacific Northwest. Mt. Rainer is a hot destination in the area, which features a massive mountain with tons of outdoor adventure. For those skiers out there, you should stop at Mt. Baker or Stevens Pass along the way.
As Glacier is found at the edge of the United States, southbound travelers have beautiful Canada to explore. If you’re looking for more astonishing views and scenery, stopping by Banff National Park is well worth the trip. Heading further north, you can find Willmore Wilderness Park and Jasper National Park Of Canada. All of these locations offer crazy views and plenty of outdoor adventure.
Those traveling west can also experience several awesome stops along the way. Although Central and Eastern Montana is pretty flat, there’s still plenty to enjoy. The Missouri River opens up in the eastern part of the state, which is perfect for taking a dip or doing some fishing. North Dakota offers a lot of museums and heritage parks, which are all very interesting and informational.
Glacier National Park: Adventure at its Finest
Once you drive close to Glacier National Park, you’ll be blown away at what you see. In fact, dramatic peaks are an understatement. This park is truly a sight to be seen—even though you may not believe your eyes. For those adventure-junkies out there, here’s what Glacier National Park has to offer:
While you don’t have to look all over to find the beautiful views in Glacier, there are tips for checking out the scenery. First things first, hop on “Going-to-the-Sun Road.” This is arguably the prettiest drive in all of America. However, due to the high amount of snowfall, only the lower elevation sections of the road are open all year long. This drive has plenty of overlooks and views to soak in.
If you enjoy hiking, Glacier National Park might become your favorite place on the planet. Not only will you encounter remarkable scenery, but you can also find trails for all ability levels.
– Avalanche Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Glacier, featuring clear blue waters, gorgeous wildflowers, and views that you won’t believe. Once you make it to the lake, the picture is so spectacular you may think it’s fake.
– Another popular yet more challenging hike is Grinnell Glacier Trail. It spans just over 11 miles and features waterfalls, lakes, vibrant forests, and abundant wildlife. Also, the mountain views will blow you away!
– Some other notable hiking adventures include: Highline Trail, Hidden Lake Trail, and Iceberg Lake Trail.
If you’re traveling during the winter months and enjoy skiing/snowboarding, Whitefish Mountain Resort should be on your list. This epic ski destination is located less than an hour from Glacier National Park and features wide-open runs and exceptional terrain.
Fishermen flock to Glacier National Park from all over the world. The area offers 1,606 miles of streams and 253 lakes fed by the melting snow. Also, Glacier is the only spot in the country where you can find 22 different kinds of fish, including 6 species of trout.
Dining options are found throughout Glacier National Park. In fact, you can find several meals featuring local, organic foods. Luckily, many restaurants in the park are located just minutes from campgrounds, so finding a delicious meal is easy!
Here are some Glacier National Park travel tips to keep in mind:
Plan to stay for at least five days, preferably more
Since the park is massive, it’s not a place you should visit for just a day or two. If possible, try to stay for at least five days. But to be honest, even a two-week trip wouldn’t be enough. With so many adventures to explore, you could spend countless days in the park and never get bored!
Plan ahead and book early
Given the one-of-a-kind beauty the park offers, it can get busy—especially during the summer months. That said, make sure to plan ahead and book campground reservations and other activities. Booking these months ahead of time is highly encouraged.
Prepare for the weather
While this tip highly depends on the season you travel, Glacier is known for changes in weather at a moment’s notice. That said, make sure you’re well-prepared with jackets, blankets, beanies, pants, and other clothing items. For those warmer months, don’t forget about your hats and sunscreen! Oh, and you’ll definitely need some bug spray!
Here are the locations to some hot spots in Glacier:
– Many Glacier Campground: Continental Divide Trail, Browning, MT 59417
– Saint Mary Campground, Glacier National Park: Parking lot, Lp C Rd, Browning, MT 59417
– St. Mary / East Glacier KOA Holiday: 106 West Shore, Babb, MT 59417
– Cracker Lake Campground: Browning, MT 59417
– Glacier Peaks RV Park & Campground: 3185 Mt Highway 40 W, Columbia Falls, MT 59912
– Avalanche Lake
– Grinnell Glacier Trail
– Highline Trail
– Hidden Lake Trail
– Iceberg Lake Trail
– Nell’s: Browning, MT 59417
– Eddie’s Cafe & Gifts: Apgar Village, 236 Apgar Loop, West Glacier, MT 59936
– Johnson’s of St. Mary: 21 Red Eagle Rd, Browning, MT 59417
Off-the-Beaten-Path – 50
While Glacier National Park brings in the crowds, here are some less popular areas that are worth checking out:
– St. Mary Lake from Rising Sun
– Huckleberry Lookout
– Kintla and Bowman lakes
– The town of Whitefish, Montana
Vancamp with Rec Van Today!
Having the perfect campervan with everything you need can make this experience that much more enjoyable. Here at Rec Van, we’re happy to be a leading source for buying and selling campervans. To create memories you’ll never forget, check out our wide selection of adventure vans today!