Will you be heading to Montana soon? Glacier National Park is one of the most visited destinations in the state. But you may want to consider avoiding it.
Keep reading to learn if the famous national park is worth visiting or not.
But first, let’s take a look at what the hype is all about and what you’ll see at the park.
About Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is one of the ten most visited national parks in the United States. The park preserves 1 million acres of land and has over 700 miles of trails to explore melting glaciers, lakes, and a variety of foliage and wildlife. You can also take in the park’s epic mountain views on a scenic drive on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Named for its glaciers, the national park had 26 as of 2015. And they’re shrinking. Consider that in 1850 there were approximately 80 glaciers in the area that is now Glacier National Park. The park serves as an educational site for visitors to learn about the past, present, and future effects of global warming.
The park also sits on the Continental Divide. Its location can create dramatic weather due to the Pacific and Arctic winds that meet at the divide.
Why Is Glacier National Park Famous?
Glacier National Park is famous for its beauty and epic landscapes. The unspoiled wilderness within the park’s borders is filled with natural wonders. It’s a photographer’s dream shoot location.
You’ll find glaciers, lakes, mountains, valleys, prairies, wildflowers, and various species and ecosystems. The Going-to-the-Sun Road has also made the park famous. It allows anyone to see the greatness of Glacier.
Is Glacier National Park Too Crowded?
Yes, Glacier National Park has become extremely crowded, especially during the summer. It gets just over 3 million visitors annually.
The National Park Service website says, “Pack your patience and plan ahead.”
These are words to live by during a visit to Glacier. Lines are long, getting a photo without people in it is nearly impossible, and you’re likely walking elbow to elbow on trails. So limit your expectation of the national park during peak times.
Pro Tip: If you’re going to visit Glacier National Park, stay at one of these Best Free Camping Spots Near Glacier National Park.
5 Reasons to Avoid Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is a bucket-list destination for many. But you may want to reprioritize when or if to visit. Here are five reasons you may want to avoid Glacier.
1. Summer Crowds
Summer crowds are overwhelming at Glacier National Park, even for extroverts. May through September is the busiest time at the park. Roads are congested, and lines are long for everything from shuttle buses to bathrooms. In addition, the trails are packed.
The national park reports that its ten most popular hikes average hundreds of hikers per day. For example, the Hidden Lake Trail averaged 1,604 people each day in 2017.
2. Preserve the Land
Overcrowding makes it more challenging to preserve the magnificent piece of land called Glacier National Park. Don’t get us wrong; the National Park Service does a fantastic job of monitoring its guests and preserving the land. But the ecosystems can still take a hit from crowds.
On the flip side, visiting the park to learn more about climate change and sustainability is an important reason to go.
3. Bear Country
Glacier is in bear country. If you’re planning to hike, you’ll need to take bear safety seriously. There are black bears and grizzly bears in the park. Hike in groups and make noises regularly to help keep bear off your path.
And avoid running so you don’t sneak up on one of these wild animals too quickly for their liking. Carry bear spray, be aware of your surroundings, and always stay at least 100 yards away from any wild animals in the park.
Pro Tip: Bears aren’t the only terrifying animals in Glacier National Park! Learn more about The Most Dangerous Creatures in Glacier National Park.
4. Pricey Lodging
Due to Glacier National Park’s popularity, lodging can be pricey. There are lodges and campgrounds in the area. Be sure to book in advance, as any type of lodging near the park fills up quickly.
5. Long Lines
Long lines can be a reality year-round at Glacier. While the summer months are the most crowded, you’re likely to find some congestion at any time.
However, visiting out of peak season does mean fewer people, but it can also mean treacherous weather.
What Is the Best Time of Year to Visit Glacier National Park?
Late June to mid-September is the best time to visit the park if you want the best weather. The summer season also provides opportunities for fishing, back-country hiking, and more.
You can also access Going-to-the-Sun Road during this time, as it’s often inaccessible in the winter. If you visit during the summer, a good way to avoid the biggest crowds is to arrive at trailheads before 7:00 a.m.
But what’s really the best time of year to visit? Visiting in the spring, fall, or winter has its benefits. You’re likely to have fewer crowds. Even though you’ll need to contend with the weather, you may get an ideal window for exploring.
And late fall to early spring provide opportunities to see the northern lights.
Is Glacier National Park Worth Visiting?
Glacier National Park is worth visiting. However, based on the reasons we’ve given to avoid the park, you may want to consider what time of year you visit. It can be challenging to enjoy the park and all it offers when it’s overcrowded. But keep in mind the park is there for all to enjoy, and it’s an important educational platform.
Are you planning a trip to Glacier? We would love to hear about your experience! Leave us a comment or tag us in some photos.
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