Camping in Glacier National Park in Montana is an amazing way to experience nature. The rugged snow-capped rock formations, the sprawling landscapes, and beautiful wildlife make the camping experience unforgettable. If this is your first time camping in the Glacier National Park, the tips we have offered in this article will help you to have a more memorable experience!
One thing to note before we dig in to our tips: when camping in National Parks, it really pays to plan your trip in advance. I’m not just talking about mapping out the route that you want to drive along and making your meal plan. I mean REALLY taking a deep-dive into planning out every aspect of the trip. From avoiding extreme seasonal weather to ensuring that you actually have a campground reserved and waiting for you, it’s important to plan ahead. When we traveled to Yellowstone, we had to book our campsite more than 1 year in advance.
National Parks are only gaining in popularity year after year, so the earlier you make your plans and commit to them, the better.
Alright, you get the point. Let’s dig into these tips for camping in Glacier National Park.
1. Make your reservations early
Since camping in Glacier National Park is a popular activity, you will want to book your camping spot early. You can reserve a campsite at select campgrounds up to 6 months in advance. The most popular campgrounds in Glacier National Park include Avalanche, St. Mary’s Camp, and Apgar. This national park offers 13 campgrounds and over 1,000 sites. Not all of these campsites allow advance reservations – some are first come, first served. You can check the Glacier National Park campground status page on any given day to see what sites are available.
All campsites at Glacier National Park are primitive and RV travel is not recommended to certain campgrounds. See more on that below (points #3 and #4).
2. Seasons matter – plan accordingly
During the winter season, the Going-to-the-sun road may be closed, depending on the depth of the snow. This road opens in June and closes between September and October. Make sure to check for current information before you plan your trip so you’re not disappointed. Current road and campground availability status reports can be found at various park entrances, as well as online.
3. You may find amenities, you may not
Depending on the campground and the season, you may find basic amenities such as potable water and comfort stations (toilets). Do not expect to find hot showers or hookups for RVs. Generator use is permitted, but you must adhere to strict usage hours. For example, generators cannot be run overnight.
During the harsher seasons, there is no potable water available, dump stations are closed and only the primitive vault toilets are open for use. If you are camping in some of the larger campgrounds here, you may have access to a shower and running water.
4. Some areas in GNP are NOT RV accessible
RVs and truck/trailer combinations cannot physically travel through certain parts of the park, so it is important to map out your route in advance of your trip. Recreational vehicles are not recommended at these campgrounds: Bowman Lake, Cut Bank, Kintla Lake, Logging Creek, Quartz Creek, and Sprague Creek.
5. Plan your hiking routes
One of the main themes in this article is definitely the advice to plan ahead. I really mean that across all aspects of your trip. From meals to driving routes to yes, even the hiking trails you hope to explore, a little planning in advance goes a long way. Remember that you may or may not have reliable cellular service inside the park, so don’t rely on a quick web search for information once you arrive.
When it comes to hiking, there are many scenic routes to enjoy in the park. The common trails include the Iceberg Lake Trails, Cracker Lake Trails, Swift Current Pass, and Grinnell Glacier Trail. Make sure to visit the famous Logan Pass as well. No matter what hiking paths you choose, you are sure to experience amazing views of nature at its best, including the snow-capped ranges and mountains.
6. Do not disturb wildlife
There is a lot of wildlife to observe in Glacier National Park. But as with any trip into the great outdoors, you should ALWAYS stay far away from the animals. Bring a good camera with a telephoto lens if you want to snag a great photo. Keep your distance and never ever approach the wildlife. Some of the more dangerous animals that call GNP home include bears, wolves and wildcats. When you are hiking through the backcountry, always be on the lookout for possible predators.
For more information on how to prepare for an adventure in the wild, check out this page from NPS regarding tips for staying safe.
Have you camped in Glacier National Park before? What was your experience like? Do you have any additional tips that you want to share? Leave a comment and tell us about it!