The Glacier National Park Travel Guide is a resource for those planning to tour
Glacier National Park and/or Canada's adjacent Waterton Lakes National Park. The adjacent national parks are typically visited at the same time and offer a variety of experiences. Both parks offer outstanding opportunities to view wildlife.
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Introduction to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
Glacier National Park is situated in northern Montana along the Continental Divide of the northern Rocky Mountains. Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park in the province of Alberta
borders along the northern edge of Glacier National Park. The two parks offer some of North America's most spectacular mountain scenery and most beautiful lakes. In 1932, the United States
and Canada agreed to join these two national parks as a symbol of their longtime peace and friendship. In recognition of this historic agreement, the parks were officially desiignated as
the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the first international park in the history of the world. The two countries do continue to administer the parks separately, and relevant
information is provided in this guide.
This guide provides a list of campgrounds for the parks and neighboring areas, a list of accommodations for the parks and neighboring areas, and a section for each of the major areas
in the parks. Each section describes the area's special features, points of interest, suggested hikes and/or scenic drives, recreational opportunities, and available services, including
camping, lodging, and location of visitor centers. See the index at the bottom of this page.
Overview of Recreational Opportunities
Both parks feature spectacular jagged mountain ranges, beautiful lakes, plentiful waterfalls, and are rich in wildlife. The leisurely tourist as well as the avid outdoorsperson can
find plentiful recreation at Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes. There are 700 miles of trails in Glacier; 200 miles in Waterton Lakes. Trails range from very short and easy to
extremely challenging. Hikes can also be combined with
guided boat cruises.
You often can shorten a hike while getting great scenery on the lake. Numerous guided hikes are offered. There are even
guided horseback rides
for those who don't like to walk. Bicycling is permitted on park roads with some
Shuttles and Bus Tours. There are abundant scenic roads throughout the parks, including Glacier's world-famous
Glacier National Park's new free shuttle bus service
provides service along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and is much easier than driving! The park concessionaire provides
fee-based shuttles in other park areas.
Guided, interpretive Red Bus Tours on "jammer" buses,
vintage red motor coaches from a bygone era. The Blackfeet Nation provides special
bus tours in modern coaches, with the perspective of Native American culture.
Guided rafting, fishing, and backpacking trips are offered by
Glacier Guides & Montana Raft Company. Park rangers offer many guided hikes and
other interpretive activities in all areas of the park. Pick up a current park brochure at any visitor center or entrance station, or use the link below to access the park download page.
Backpacking. The parks are extremely popular with backpackers due to the spectacular and unspoiled nature of the backcountry. Both parks require permits for backcountry
camping and generally require that you stay in designated backcountry campsites. The permits are available on a reservation system, and reservations are recommended, especially for popular
areas during July and August. Fees are charged for permits and reservations. See
Glacier National Park Backpacking and
Waterton Lakes National Park Backpacking.
The parks are also noted for a number of classic chalet-style lodges built in and near the parks by the Great Northern Railroad to encourage tourism in the early part of the 20th century.
Most are still open and providing stylish lodging to this day. See our lodging page for details. The railroad around the southern end of Glacier
National Park is still active with stops (and lodges, now privately owned) at East Glacier Park, Essex, and West Glacier. Amtrak's famous "Empire Builder" provides service on the route.
The park service offers online brochures (in Adobe PDF format) including the official park map, the current park brochure, current and recent newsletters, and backcountry camping
information. Also, guides to various recreational activities and other topics of interest. See the
List of Brochures.
Note: Some of the links in this guide are to publications in PDF format. The PDF's can only be viewed or printed using
Adobe Acrobat Reader (available free, online).
Glacier National Park Guide Index
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