Flights to Glacier National Park can be booked from most major US cities; during peak season, it’s wise to book as soon as possible. Browse the Best info about Glacier Vacations.
This scenic wilderness straddles Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park and forms part of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, offering visitors unspoiled mountain peaks, turquoise-blue lakes, and tranquil rivers – not to mention iconic species such as grizzly bears and moose!
What is Glacier National Park?
Glacier National Park is an extraordinary mountain wilderness of spectacular mountain peaks and glaciated lakes that creates a landscape of unparalleled beauty. Considered the “Backbone of the World” by Blackfeet Nation members, Glacier’s rugged alp-like terrain caught the attention of the Great Northern Railway in 1891, leading to its establishment as a national park.
The park’s vertical spires of banded granite and ice are an ancient landscape formed from melting lava followed by glacial erosion. As it spans across the Continental Divide, its geography sets the scene for clashes of very different weather conditions – warm Pacific air to the west flows in while cold Arctic air from the northeast blows in from its northeast border, eventually merging at its southern border for spectacular mountainous landscapes capped with rugged mountains, cascading waterfalls, and stunningly clear turquoise-blue lakes!
Physical evidence of human use at Glacier dates back 10,000 years, when Native American tribes hunted, fished, and held ceremonies there. Blackfoot tribe members dominated the grasslands east of Glacier Park, while Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille people resided on its forested west side. Glacier received more attention after the construction of Going-to-the-Sun Road during the 1920s and 1930s – this road provides access to its remote interior through hiker-friendly destinations such as St Mary Lake, Bowman Lake, and Lake McDonald (which Kootenai tribe members refer to as “The Place Where They Danced.”
Glacier National Park is known for its world-class hiking, stunning lakes, and serene landscape. However, the park also serves as a home for some of Big Sky’s most prized wildlife species, including grizzly bears, moose, and mountain goats. Spotting wildlife at Glacier National Park is best done before dawn or around sunset when animals become most active, although opportunities to see wildlife throughout the day exist. Seeing a playful grizzly bear in its natural environment evokes reverence and amazement among visitors; witnessing one will certainly add something special to their visit – one that visitors won’t soon forget!
How to Get to Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has something for everyone – whether that be challenging hikes, backcountry camping trips, or scenic drives. Unfortunately, though, due to its vastness, it can be hard to fit all these activities into a short vacation; we have provided this guide so that you can prioritize your journey and visit those must-see spots.
Glacier National Park can best be enjoyed by taking advantage of one of its many tours available. These range from horseback riding and float trips to day trips focusing on specific features like The Highline Trail or Mount Brown Lookout – it is best to book tours as early as possible as these tend to sell out quickly!
There are three main entrances to Glacier National Park: West Glacier, St. Mary, and Many Glacier. Your decision on an entry point will determine where in the park you visit, so plan!
Car is by far the easiest and fastest way to get to Glacier National Park, accessible via Highway 2 or U.S. 89. Going-to-the-Sun Road runs between West Glacier and St Mary entrances and connects with Two Medicine, Polebridge and Many Glacier – two significant roads within the park itself.
This scenic drive in the United States only opens for several months every year due to weather conditions, offering spectacular views of mountains, lakes, and glaciers as you pass through this magnificent national park.
Glacier National Park’s shoulder season, between September and October, offers the ideal conditions for visiting. Here, you will be able to avoid large crowds while still taking in breathtaking weather and scenery. When in Glacier, it is strongly advised that visitors bring bear spray and stick to designated trails; additionally, food, water, and sunscreen should always be brought along.
Where to Fly to Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is an incredible showcase of America’s natural beauty. Since 1897, its rugged mountains, pristine wilderness, and spectacular lakes have enthralled visitors. Offering invigorating hikes, peaceful camping trips, engaging fishing expeditions, and tranquil boating activities – no wonder Glacier National Park is one of the nation’s most visited parks!
When flying into Glacier National Park, there are various airports nearby offering a range of flights. Determining which is the ideal airport depends on many factors, including the cost of airfare and proximity of the park compared to the home city;
Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) is situated in Kalispell and approximately 40 minutes away from Glacier National Park’s West Entrance. FCA offers various flight options and is served by numerous airlines such as Delta Air Lines from Los Angeles and Atlanta, United Airlines from Chicago, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, plus discount carrier Allegiant Air (A.A.).
Kalispell airport is the top choice among visitors seeking to access Glacier National Park, as its proximity to Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Glacier makes for easy travel between major towns and cities in the region. Furthermore, many outdoor attractions can be easily reached from here, and numerous car rental services are readily available for guests’ use during their visit.
Great Falls International Airport (GTF), which lies southeast of Glacier National Park, offers another way of reaching this stunning park by air. Popular among visitors from both the eastern United States and Canada, GTF features multiple airlines such as Great Sky Airlines, Horizon Air, and Delta Airlines, among many others.
GTF may be more costly than FCA, but its proximity to Glacier National Park makes the additional costs worthwhile. Furthermore, larger airports often provide cheaper connections to Glacier Park International Airport, which saves both time and money when planning your journey.
Flying to Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is beloved for its majestic mountains, tranquil lakes, spectacular glaciers, and abundance of wildlife. A unique showcase of American natural beauty that has attracted millions of visitors over time – air travel is perhaps one of the most straightforward and accessible means of reaching Glacier.
Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell serves as an essential gateway for travelers from various cities throughout the United States, with direct seasonal flights connecting numerous U.S. cities with FCA. Delta Airlines currently provides nonstop service from Los Angeles and Atlanta, while American Airlines provides service from New York City and Chicago; discount airline Allegiant Air also provides flights direct to FCA from various U.S. cities.
Flight duration will depend on both your destination and time of year, with peak seasons often having more limited prices and availability than others. Be sure to book well in advance, as this could save both money and hassle.
When traveling in groups to a park, consider splitting up and flying to different destinations for more flexible itineraries and reduced airfare costs. This will maximize your time in the garden and save money on airfare costs.
Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Montana (FCA) and Missoula International Airport in Missoula, Montana (MSO). Both serve as viable gateways to Glacier National Park, with FCA being closer to its West Entrance.
Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National/Alamo all operate from these airports as rental car agencies; shuttles and taxis can also be easily found at each location.
As a word of warning, driving to Glacier National Park should only be attempted if one has extensive driving experience. The terrain of the park can be rugged and mountainous, and traffic can become heavy at times; additionally, there are unpaved roads throughout, which require special care to navigate safely.
As well as its paved highways, there are over 700 miles of trails within the park’s interior suitable for hiking and horseback riding, including various peaks that can be submitted through different routes.
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