Montana: Glacier National Park

Guided Walking Tour, Montana: Glacier National ParkGuided Walking Tour, Montana: Glacier National Park

Montana

Glacier National Park

overview

Remote and awe-inspiring, Glacier is one of America's least-visited national parks, and that makes it perfect for travelers like you. Straddling the Continental Divide and endowed with some of North America's most glorious alpine scenery, it is a national treasure—a world of ice and lakes, massive summits, and waterfalls surging from high cliffs. As you hike into ancient forest on our Guided Walking tour, regal scenery unfolds; the smooth stone chutes of Avalanche Gorge, the wind-twisted trees of the Garden Wall, dazzling Grinnell Glacier, aquamarine Iceberg Lake. Accommodations at historic, turn-of-the-century lodges add comfort to your journey, and provide an excellent vantage point for spotting mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, eagles, and grizzly bears. Boat rides across high-altitude lakes, a river raft trip, and meadow walks to lofty overlooks reveal the intricate web of life in this pristine wilderness. Come fill your senses with the timeless splendor of more than 70 million years of geological creation.

2014 Downloadable Itinerary

2015 Downloadable Itinerary

Activity Level
Moderate to
challenging;
4-11 miles daily
Meet
Whitefish, Montana
Depart
Kalispell or Whitefish, Montana
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
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From our blog

Guided Walking 
6 days, 5 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals included; wine or beer included with dinners
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
per person double occupancy
Solo surcharge + $0
 

2014 Single supplement + $625
2015 Single supplement + $650
Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Glacier National Park
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2
Glacier National Park
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3
Glacier National Park
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4
Glacier National Park
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5
Glacier National Park
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6
Glacier National Park
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Day 1

Glacier National Park

Arrival in Whitefish. Transfer to Glacier National Park. Avalanche Lake; 4-6 miles, easy to moderate

From the meeting point in Whitefish, you drive (approximately one hour) to the western side of Glacier National Park. Here, in the lush, ancient cedar rainforest, you stretch your legs on an easy walk up to the glacial meltwaters of Avalanche Lake. The path first passes Avalanche Gorge, where rushing waters have carved the stone into smooth chutes and bowls. From here you continue climbing on a moss- rimmed pathway among western red cedars and hemlock to the tranquil shores of Avalanche Lake, which rests in a cirque surrounded by the towering layered cliffs of Glacier Park’s dramatic mountains.

Following a lakeside picnic lunch, you travel a short distance to your home for the night—a national park property that first began welcoming guests in 1895. Nestled in a cedar grove on tranquil Lake McDonald, the lodge provides opportunities to stroll the lakeshore or perhaps relax near the lobby’s giant stone fireplace.

Tonight’s dinner is 20 minutes down the road at the Belton Chalet, which has been restored to its 1910 charm with original wainscoting and leaded glass windows. Here your chef blends local ingredients into savory dishes grilled on the Belton Boiler BBQ, which is a story in itself. This first evening is a perfect way to ease into the week in this spectacular, natural gem of a park.

Lake McDonald Lodge

Glacier National Park

Built in 1914, this national-park lodge is situated in a cedar grove on the shores of beautiful Lake McDonald.

Day 2

Glacier National Park

Haystack Butte; 7 miles, moderate

This morning, early risers may have an opportunity to view the wildlife, such as deer and elk, that make their home in the forested foothills around Lake McDonald. After breakfast in the dining area with its rough-hewn beams and hunting trophies, you depart the western side of the park by way of the well-known Going-to-the-Sun Road, a marvel of engineering that spectacularly scales the Continental Divide at Logan Pass (elevation 6,646 feet) and affords close-up views of the park’s majestic high peaks, cliffs, and lakes.

Today’s walk is the famous “Garden Wall” section of the Highline Trail, which provides spectacular scenery and excellent opportunities to view wildlife on the open mountain slopes below the rugged ridge of the Continental Divide. The trail crosses a broad ledge, then winds through fir and spruce that have been molded over time into eerie shapes by the strong winter winds and ice particles, leaving many without windward branches and, instead, with a flag-like appearance. You are surrounded by the results of glacial activity, in a valley overlooking mountains that cradle a high hanging basin, from which a waterfall cascades hundreds of feet to the valley floor below. You may share the trail with mountain goats or bighorn sheep, which are at home on the ledges of the rugged, rocky terrain. After lingering near a promontory known as Haystack Butte, you then return on the same trail.

By late afternoon you reach your home for the next two nights, another spectacular park lodge built by the Great Northern Railroad in 1915. The lodge sits on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, and offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the park. This convenient location provides two days of walking directly from the front door. Built with a true Swiss flavor, the hotel features a recently renovated exterior. This evening you dine in the lodge’s Ptarmigan Dining Room, which serves Continental and American cuisine.

Many Glacier Lodge

Glacier National Park

The largest of the national-park lodges in Glacier, this historic lodge was built in the Swiss tradition and opened in 1915. Located on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, this lodge affords some of the best wildlife viewing in the park.

Day 3

Glacier National Park

Iceberg Lake; 5-9 miles, moderate (elevation gain of 1,200 ft)

After a breakfast buffet, you set out for the striking aquamarine tarn known as Iceberg Lake. The trail climbs briskly for the first few hundred yards and then continues on a gradual ascent to the lake (elevation gain of 1,200 feet). You traverse slopes colored with a profusion of wildflowers, including the creamy white blossoms of beargrass in early summer and the magenta spikes of fireweed mid-summer. In all seasons, you behold the spectacular views of Swiftcurrent Glacier, Grinnell Peak, and towering Mt. Wilbur, known to the Blackfeet as “Heavy Shield Mountain.”

Ptarmigan Falls provides a refreshing rest spot on warm summer days. For a shorter walking option, you may turn back here and enjoy a leisurely afternoon at the lodge. For the longer option, you continue on to the glacial cirque that supports the frigid turquoise waters and ice flows of Iceberg Lake (elevation 6,094 feet). In the late afternoon, you return to the lodge with time to refresh before reuniting for dinner at a local restaurant.

Many Glacier Lodge

Glacier National Park

The largest of the national-park lodges in Glacier, this historic lodge was built in the Swiss tradition and opened in 1915. Located on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, this lodge affords some of the best wildlife viewing in the park.

Day 4

Glacier National Park

Grinnell Lake Overlook; 5 miles (elevation gain of 600 ft.) moderate; or Grinnell Glacier; 11 miles, moderate to challenging (elevation gain of 1,400 ft.)

An area known as the Grinnell Valley holds two destinations in store today—Grinnell Lake Overlook or Grinnell Glacier. Both options begin with a short, yet scenic boat ride across Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes. The trail begins with a climb through a forest of sub-alpine firs, then traverses ledges of sedimentary red and green argillite, which open broadly to breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, while Mts. Gould and Grinnell tower above. With the distinctive milky flow of glacial meltwater, Grinnell Falls cascades into Grinnell Lake below. Wildlife sightings are likely as you travel through the habitat of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, bear, and moose. The turnaround point at Grinnell Lake Overlook is remarkably picturesque and allows for a leisurely pace on the return along the wildflower-studded shores of two lovely lakes (elevation gain of 600 feet).

For those who continue onward and upward, the trail is demanding, but rewarding, and provides access to one of the largest remaining glaciers in the park (elevation gain of 1,400 feet). At the end of the day’s adventures, a scenic drive of just over an hour brings you to new accommodations—a historic park lodge known as the “Big Tree” hotel owing to the enormous Douglas fir trees adorning its majestic lobby. Dinner is served in the lodge’s dining room.

Glacier Park Lodge

Glacier National Park, Montana

A national-park lodge, first opened to the public in 1913, with a massive, welcoming lobby and reputation as “The Big Tree” hotel.

Day 5

Glacier National Park

Scenic Point Trail; 11 miles, moderate to challenging (elevation gain of 2,200 ft.); or Upper Two Medicine Lake; 7.5 miles, easy (elevation gain of 300 ft.)

This morning, a short drive brings you to Two Medicine Valley and the trailhead for a walk that boasts the week’s highest elevation, uniquely located here in the park’s vast, eastern prairies. From the east bank of Appistoki Creek, the trail climbs quickly, passing Appistoki Falls, then ascends steeply and steadily via switchbacks up the arid mountainside above the creek. All of today’s elevation gain (approximately 2,200 feet) is within the first three miles, but you are rewarded at the summit of Scenic Point (elevation 7,522 feet) with spectacular views. To the west are great peaks, passes, and deep blue lakes along the Continental Divide, and to the east are great plains that stretch for hundreds of miles. After a picnic lunch, you continue down into a bowl filled with windblown trees and farther into the wooded lowlands, eventually reaching a dirt road that brings you directly to the lodge.

For those looking for something more leisurely, a walk is offered to Upper Two Medicine Lake. Starting at the foot of Two Medicine Lake with magnificent Rising Wolf Mountain towering to the north, the trail gently winds through diverse forest where occasional avalanche chutes open to views of this gorgeous valley. While eating a snack at the impressive Twin Falls, you may see an ousel (or American dipper), which makes its home in a nest under one of the falls. Continuing on to Upper Two Medicine Lake (elevation gain of 300 feet), you unpack your picnic lunch before making your way back to Two Medicine Lake and returning by boat.

Tonight’s farewell dinner is at a local restaurant known for its casual menu and lively atmosphere.

Glacier Park Lodge

Glacier National Park, Montana

A national-park lodge, first opened to the public in 1913, with a massive, welcoming lobby and reputation as “The Big Tree” hotel.

Day 6

Glacier National Park

Optional river-raft float trip or South Boundary Trail; 4 miles, easy. Departure from Whitefish

Your final day offers a relaxing alternative for viewing Glacier’s scenery. For those who wish, there is an optional river-raft float trip on the Flathead River, part of which forms here the southern boundary of Glacier National Park. After full days of hiking, you will likely find yourself ready to put up your boots and float or paddle peacefully downstream on the emerald green Flathead River. Lunch tastes better riverside, where it is served on tables at the bend known as Devil’s Elbow, with the sound of waves and the opportunity to swim, skip rocks, or collect a souvenir stone from the colorful argillites.

If you choose not to raft, a leisurely final walk is offered along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. The trail heads upstream along the edge of the river through a beautiful forest, with the tranquil sounds and views of the water below.

You return to Whitefish in the late afternoon for departures from the airport or downtown.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Carolyn Beecher

Carolyn Beecher is in her element in Glacier National Park, where she has been guiding for over 20 years. Her love of nature is contagious as she offers fun facts about flora, wildlife, geology, and cultural history. She makes her home in the foothills of Montana's Mission Mountains, where she has lived and worked since 1980. Also a big fan of Utah's canyon country, she has been backpacking and exploring the red rocks and slot canyons since the 1980s. She'll tune your ears to the song of the canyon wren, and open your eyes to the big skies of the West—sharing the intricacies of nature’s tapestry is her passion.

Stacey Bengtson

Montana lured Stacey from St. Paul, Minnesota, over twenty years ago, and she’s never looked back. A professional hiking and rafting guide for over fourteen years, her expertise is in plant and bird identification. Stacey’s winters are spent teaching skiing at the Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Amy Jo Sheppard

When not guiding in Glacier National Park, Amy Jo teaches science education to groups of all ages both in classrooms and in the great outdoors. Currently she teaches kids at an interactive museum of science and culture in Helena. Her background has varied from being a chef in Alaska to operating a guest ranch and writing two cookbooks!

Corrie Holloway

Corrie grew up in New Hampshire but headed west for college and graduated from Northern AZ University with a degree in Parks and Rec/Outdoor Leadership. This degree has served her well guiding in Glacier National Park since 1997. When not skiing or guiding, Corrie enjoys sharing her love of Glacier with her two young children.

Guest Comments

S. Green, Georgia, August 2010

Montana is BIG! The reading suggestions certainly add dimension and perspective to the experience. Glacier National Park is a treasure. See it while the glaciers are still in the accessible areas of the park.

L. Fafard, Washington, August 2011

My CW experience was "a slice of heaven on earth."

S. Beach, Connecticut, August 2008

At the end of our trip, teary eyed, I wanted to step back in time to do it again!

S. Campbell & N. Bassen, New York, August 2008

This trip is CW at its best! Fabulous guides, beautiful walks every day, and effortless travel. The perfect vacation for the traveler who wants to see, feel, and thoroughly experience another land.

J. Deitch, Pennsylvania, July 2011

Glacier National Park—majestic, beautiful, awesome. From the scenery to our guides and fellow hikers—overall a wonderful trip.

V. Estey, Texas, July 2011

The entire trip, each hike in Glacier, filled me with awe and graditude.

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