The Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park

Best Time to Visit in Glacier National Park

When is the best time to visit Glacier National Park?

The best time to visit Glacier National Park is in August.

While this is during peak season in the park, it’s also the most seasonal time of year with highs reaching into the 70s and cool nights that drop into the 40s.

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Best time for good weather

The best time for good weather in Glacier National Park is from July to August.

This is when the weather is most enjoyable in the park. During other months of the year, you will encounter much colder temperatures and frequently snow, which can close hiking trails and roads. You might even see snow in June and July at the park’s higher elevations.

August is a time when most, if not all, of the park’s trails and roads, are open for safe hiking. Most of the park’s facilities will also be open, and its shuttle service will be running.

Best time for camping

Camping in Glacier

The best time for camping in Glacier National Park is in October.

The weather is still warm enough during the day for camping to be enjoyable, with highs reaching into the 60s and 70s and lows in the 40s at night. By this time, the crowds have dissipated, which makes finding a vacancy at a campground much easier than during the peak summer months.

Be prepared for cold temperatures with cold-weather sleeping bags, thick sleeping pads that get you off of the cold ground, plenty of layers, and rain gear for inclement weather.

Read More : Guide to Camping in Glacier National Park

Best time for hiking

The best time for hiking in Glacier National Park is in September.

By September, the crowds in the park have dissipated from their highs during July and August. This means you’ll face fewer visitors on the crowd’s most popular trails. 

The weather is still warm enough with daytime highs reaching into the 70s that you can enjoy hiking most of the park’s trails. Snows won’t arrive in the park until October, so you won’t have to worry about closures.

That said, the weather can still be unpredictable, so be prepared with wet weather gear.

Read More : Hiking Trails in Glacier National Park

Best time to avoid crowds

The best time to avoid crowds in Glacier National Park is mid-September to mid-October.

Over the past couple of summers, Glacier has set new records for visitors. From June to July, the park sees more than 2.5 million visitors. While the number of visitors in the park begins to decline after Labor Day, it’s still busy through the first couple weeks of September.

By the latter half of September, those numbers drop dramatically. Just 75,000 people visit the park in October. From mid-September to mid-October, temperatures are still warm enough to enjoy the park’s attractions with much smaller crowds.

Best time for traveling Going-to-the-sun-Road

Going to the sun Road in Glacier

The best time for traveling the Going-to-the-sun-Road in Glacier National Park is July through September.

While parts of this picturesque road are open all year round, much of it’s higher elevations, which are arguably the best parts of this legendary road, begin to close with the arrival of the first snows in mid-October.

If you want to enjoy this road in its entirety, you’ll need to go during the warmer months. If you do elect to drive this road later in the year, make sure to check the National Park Service’s site for road conditions.

Best time for biking

The best time for biking in Glacier National Park is from late April to late May.

Biking in the summer is treacherous given the amount of traffic on the park’s main drag, the Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Plus, cycling is only allowed on this road during the early morning and evening hours, making planning a ride challenging. 

Spring is the time for biking Glacier. This is when the park begins to clear the roads from winter snows, but before traffic begins amassing on the road. In fact, some roads are still closed to traffic but open to cyclists, including sections of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The park even offers a free shuttle service for cyclists to these areas.

Best time for boating

Boating in Glacier

The best time for boating in Glacier National Park is from June through August.

The boating season opens in Glacier National Park on June 1 and closes sometime in October. With warmer temperatures, the summer months present the best times for boating in the park’s many lakes. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a permit in order to boat here.

You also won’t be able to bring a boat with a water compartment that can’t be inspected. The park service is serious about defending the lakes from invasive species of mussel and needs to see that your boat’s hull is clean before they’ll grant you a permit.

Best time for fishing

Fishing in Glacier

The best time for boating in Glacier National Park is from July through October.

July through October is when peak fly fishing season takes place in Glacier. That said, you can really go fishing whenever you want. Ice fishing is popular in the wintertime, and line fishing can be done in the lakes from spring to fall.

For more detailed information, check out the fishing reports that are available from various sources online for the best information on where to fish in the park. No permit is required, though the park does regulate what fish can be taken, so make sure to consult that before heading out to one of the park’s lakes or streams.

Best time for cross country skiing

Cross Country Skiing in Glacier

The best time for boating in Glacier National Park is from December through March.

You need snow to ski, and thus winter presents the best option for cross country skiing in the park. This is when Road-to-the-Sun is closed to traffic due to snowfall, allowing you to traverse this scenic road on skis. Other popular cross country skiing areas include McDonald Creek and Avalanche Creek, the Polebridge Area, and Two Medicine Valley.

Given the extreme temperatures possible in the park at this time, it’s essential to go prepared with heavy winter ski jackets, ski pants, and hats, and gloves. You’ll also want to be conscious of the weather forecast to avoid getting out caught in a storm.

Glacier National Park Seasons

Summer

Glacier National Park - Summer

Summer is the peak month of the year in the park. Daytime temperatures are warm, with temperatures reaching into the 80s, while nighttime temperatures can drop all the way down into the 40s.

Higher elevations see temperatures that are 10 to 15ºF cooler than at lower elevations of the park. All of the park’s complimentary shuttle systems are running. As this is the busiest time of the year in the park, make reservations for accommodations and tours in advance.

Read More : 12 Essentials to Bring for Summer Camping

Fall

Glacier National Park - Fall

Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year in the park, with the autumn foliage on full display. Temperatures remain warm in the daytime, with temperatures reaching into the 60s and 70s and nighttime lows dropping into the 40s.

Rates for accommodations also drop after Labor Day. Just keep in mind that many businesses and lodges close after Labor Day, which may require you to look outside the park for a place to stay.

Winter

Glacier National Park - Winter

During the wintertime, the weather can be extreme inside the park. Daytime temperatures will reach 40ºF in midwinter while nighttime lows will drop into the teens and below 0ºF on occasion.

The park also sees significant snowfall during the wintertime, making it a good place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Few accommodations are open during the winter, with most of the park’s roads closed due to snowfall.

Read More : Winter Camping Checklist – 11 Gear to Bring with You 

Spring

Glacier National Park - Spring

Many of the park’s roads and trails remain closed during the spring due to snowy conditions. Daytime temperatures average the 60s while nighttime lows still drop into the 30s. Lodging begins to open back up in the spring, offering reduced rates.

Shuttles begin operating on a reduced schedule as weather allows. This is a popular time of year for biking as much of the main road is still closed to traffic.

Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams is a writer, plant-nerd, and outdoor enthusiast. She has traveled extensively, around the U.S., throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Everywhere she treks, she takes time to enjoy the outdoors. John Muir is her hero. She aspires to inspire people to live better as he did.