Neighboring Parks

48 Hours in Glacier National Park

Get ready for a vacation of a lifetime. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Glacier from a peaceful boat ride and breathtaking hike to eating one of the best huckleberry pastries ever.

Eat at Lake McDonald Lodge

Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park
Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National ParkNPS Jacob W Frank

Built in 1913, Lake McDonald Lodge sits 10 miles from the West Entrance and is home to Russell’s Fireside Dining Room. Start the day off here with a continental buffet or a full breakfast buffet featuring wheat from Montana in the pancakes and Flathead Lake cherries covered in whipped cream.

2020 Alert: Lake MacDonald Lodge will open June 15 because of social distancing requirements and guidelines related to the pandemic. Other lodges have different opening dates, so check Glacier National Park Lodges for up-to-date information. 

Hike to Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park
Avalanche Lake in Glacier National ParkNPS Jacob W Frank

Explore the Lake McDonald area by hiking 4.6 miles roundtrip to Avalanche Lake or do the shorter .7-mile roundtrip Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail that leaves from the same trailhead and passes through a hemlock and cedar forest.

Take a Red Bus Tour

Red Bus Tour in Glacier National Park
Red Bus Tour in Glacier National ParkNPS Tim Rains

Ride in the world’s oldest touring fleet of vehicles. Depart from the east or west sides of the park in these 1930s-era vintage buses with roll-back tops. They accommodate 17 people, four across on bench seating. The best part is the insider’s park scoop you get from extremely knowledgeable Red Bus drivers. Tours last between 2.5 -8 hours, depending on which one you choose.

NOTE: Glacier National Park Lodges has suspended Red Bus tours through July 15, 2020, because of the pandemic. Reservations have been automatically refunded. The tours are expected to commence July 16, pending developments related to COVID-19. 

Ice cream at the Cedar Tree Gift Shop

Man holding ice cream cone
Deposit Photos

Stop by the park’s largest gift store in Apgar to pick up Montana-made souvenirs, coffee or ice cream. See the old-growth cedar trees growing through the floor and ceiling. The trees occupied the area long before the store, so the builders let some stay. 

2020 Alert: Glacier National Park Lodges has announced the delayed opening of their lodging, food service, and gift shop operations in the park to at least June 15, 2020. The exact opening dates of their visitor services will depend on the park’s re-opening directives. Because of social distancing requirements for visitors and employees, limited services will be permitted to reopen.

Ride on a Historic Boat at Two Medicine

The \
The \”Sinopah\” on upper Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National ParkNPS Bill Hayden

Explore this stunning but off-the-beaten path area on the eastern side of Glacier by boat. Towering above Two Medicine Lake is Rising Wolf Mountain, a well-photographed, conical mountain. Take the oldest wooden boat in Glacier Park Boat Co.’s fleet across Two Medicine Lake and learn about the area’s Blackfeet Indian history. When the boat docks on the upper west shore, you can stay on the boat or disembark and hike with a naturalist or on your own to Twin Falls. Catch a different return boat or hike back. 

2020 Alert: The Glacier Park Boat Co. is suspending all boat tour and small boat rental operations for the 2020 season. If conditions change and there is an opportunity to operate this summer, they may reevaluate this decision.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Haystack Creek Falls from Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park
Haystack Creek Falls from Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National ParkNPS Jacob W Frank

You cannot visit Glacier without driving this legendary road that connects the park’s east and west sides. Opened July 15, 1933, it’s nearly 50 miles long and takes at least two hours to drive one way.

Hike on Logan Pass

Hidden Lake Trail on Logan Pass in Glacier National Park
Hidden Lake Trail on Logan Pass in Glacier National ParkDeposit Photos

At 6,646 feet, Logan Pass is the inspiring high point of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Both Hidden Lake Overlook Trail and the Highline Trail leave from Logan Pass. Both offer breathtaking opportunities to spot wildlife. Look for Gracie, the dog charged with herding bighorn sheep and mountain goats out of the parking lot.

Dine at Many Glacier Hotel

Many Glacier Hotel on the east side of Glacier National Park
Many Glacier Hotel on the east side of Glacier National ParkNPS Andrew Englehorn

For a special dinner, head to the historic first-come, first-served Ptarmigan Dining Room. Ptarmigan’s chefs use locally sourced ingredients when possible, so you’ll find items like cheese plates with Poor Orphan Creamery fromage blanc produced in Laurin, Mont., and slowly roasted Double R Ranch signature prime rib from Hamilton, Mont.

NOTE: Many Glacier is expected to reopen June 26, 2020. 

Visit Polebridge

Polebridge Mercantile near Glacier National Park
Polebridge Mercantile near Glacier National ParkAnnie Mullinsuk via Flickr

Get world-class pastries at this electricity-free outpost on Glacier’s northwestern edge. It’s a 28-mile, one-hour drive on a dirt road from Apgar. 

You’ll get a free park map from the park entrance station when you enter the park. But if you’re interested in getting a lay of the land, in particular the North Fork area, which includes Lake McDonald, consider buying a Trails Illustrated map from