Visiting Glacier National Park is near the top of mostMontana-Wish List- That's right. With its namesake glaciers, jagged mountain peaks and clear alpine lakes, the park's scenery is second to none. The glacier is also incredibly diverse (and huge!) with a plethora of activities on offer, making it an outdoor lover's paradise.
I can't deny that it's very touristy and gets very crowded in the summer, but don't let that put you off too much. Visit in the off-season if you can, or venture into less popular areas of the park, and know that there's a reason this national park is so popular.
Whether you're planning an upcoming trip to the park, dreaming of making one in a day, or just curious about one of the country's most stunning natural wonders, these fun and helpful facts about Glacier National Park will keep you informed and inspired.
table of contents
- Basic facts about Glacier National Park
- Features of Glacier National Park
- More fun facts about Glacier National Park
- Information for Glacier National Park Visitors
- Books about Glacier National Park
- Fast Facts on Glacier National Park
Basic facts about Glacier National Park
From the basics of its location and status to key moments in Glacier National Park's history, here are some of the most important things to know about the park.
1. Glacier National Park is located in northwest Montana.
The nearest big city isWhite fish, MT, about 40 minutes from the park's West Glacier entrance. Whitefish's population is just 8,000, but it has a lot to offer, including an impressive arts and dining scene to complement any visit to the park.
Glacier Park borders, among other things, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and AlbertaTwo Lakes Waterton National Parkin Canada and on the Blackfeet Reservation. Contrary to popular belief, the park is notnoBorders the Flathead Reservation, which is over an hour away. (Where did this belief come from? I don't know!)
2. The park covers over 1 million acres, or about 1,580 square miles.
That makes it the size of Rhode Island!
3. It was declared a national park in 1910.
Glacier was the eighth national park in the United States designated by President William Howard Taft. It took two decades of lobbying, led by anthropologist and conservationist George Bird Grinnell, to persuade Congress to establish Glacier as a national park.
4. The park had 80 glaciers when it opened.
That's significant because now, just over a century later, there are just 26.
5. The land that now includes Glacier was once owned by the Blackfeet tribe.
All visitors should understand the history of Glacier National Park as it relates to the area's indigenous peoples. The Blackfeet tribe sold the land, the western part of their reservation, to the federal government in 1895 under an agreement that gave them the right to continue using the land.
The catch? These rights would only exist as long as the country was "public". When Glacier became a national park, the land was no longer considered "public" and the government revoked the tribe's use rights.
6.Other Native American tribes also called this land home.
In addition to the Blackfeet tribe, the Salish, Kootenai and Pend d'Oreille tribes also historically lived on the land that is now Glacier Park. Many tribesmen believe that the spirits of their ancestors still inhabit this land.
7. People have lived on the land that is now Glacier Park for about 10,000 years.
Compare that to the only 110 years the glacier was a national park!
8. The park's nickname is the crown of the continent.
It is also known as the Switzerland of the United States due to the craggy mountain peaks that (slightly) resemble the Alps.
9. Her symbol is the mountain goat.
If you're lucky, you might find one along the way!
10. Estrada do Sol is one of the highlights of Glacier Park.
The Road Going to the Sun is the only road that crosses the park, traversing it for 80 winding kilometers. The path offers expansive views of the park's most impressive landscape and access to many of its campsites and hiking trails, as well as the three visitor centers. Not only is Going-to-the-Sun a must-do tour in Glacier National Park, it's also considered one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the country.
11. The park has a longstanding program for Native American speakers.
Through a program calledNative Americans speak, the park hosts performances by members of the Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai and Pend d'Oreille tribes. Speakers talk about their tribe's history, culture and relationship to the land that is now glaciers, and there are occasional dance and song performances.
12. The glacier is visited by more than 3 million visitors a year.
That's about three times the population of the entire state of Montana!
13. The park suffers from devastating forest fires.
feuerthey burn the park down every summer (and sometimes during other seasons as well), and each year is worse than the last. Fires in recent years have destroyed homes, historic cabins and centuries-old buildings.Sperry-Chalet(which fortunately has already been rebuilt).
14. Glacier is not only a national park, but also:
- A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
- A dark sky international park
- Part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (the world's first)
- Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Home to six National Historic Landmarks
Features of Glacier National Park
How is Glacier National Park known? Sure, its glaciers, but also so much more. These fun facts about Glacier National Park cover all of the park's incredible natural features.
15. Glacier National Park is home to:
- 26 glaciers
- 175 Berge
- 762 seen
- 200 waterfalls
- 563 streams (over 2,865 miles of streams!)
16. The largest glacier in the park is the Harrison Glacier.
It currently covers over half a square mile of land, but like all glaciers in the park, it isshrinks quickly.
17. The largest lake is Lake McDonald.
This huge body of water on the west side of the park is 15.1 km long and 2.4 km wide and 464 feet deep.
18. The highest point in Glacier Park is the top of Mount Cleveland.
The highest mountain peak in the park reaches nearly 10,550 feet. But it's not even in the top 100Highest Mountains in Montana!
19. The park also has a wide variety of plants and animals:
- 71 different mammals
- 276 species of birds
- 24 species of fish
- 1,990 plant species
20. Some of the most famous animals in Glacier National Park include:
- mountain goats
More curiosities about Glacier National Park
We've covered the basics, but there's still more to learn. Here are more facts and fun facts about Glacier National Park.
21. The Northern Lights are sometimes seen in the park.
Don't worry about seeing the Northern Lights in Glacier National Park, but if you're lucky, they are.he cansighted occasionally (not usually in the summer months).
22. The park receives about 160 inches of snow a year.
That's over 4 feet of snow, but honestly, not a ton by Montana standards!
23. There are 158 trails in the park.
Altogether, there are almost 750 kilometers of trails. strange as it may seemthere are peoplewho walked every mile in the park. (I'm not one of them.)
24. It took 14 years to build the Estrada do Sol.
The park's iconic road was under construction from 1919 to 1933, and even then, it wasn't fully paved until 1952. I'd say it earned the status of a National Historic Landmark of Civil Engineering!
25. Glacier is the only national park located entirely in Montana.
Montana has a little slice of that tooyellowstone national park(although local kids definitely grow up believing that at least half of Yellowstone is in Montana!). However, there are several other types of National Park Services units in Montana, including theLittle Bighorn Battlefield(national monument) andGrant-Kohrs-Rancho(a National Historic Site).
26. The park spans the continental divide.
The continental divide stretches from Alaska to Mexico, passing directly through Glacier Park on its way. The Going-to-the-Sun Highway crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, where the elevation is 6,646 feet.
27. Contains 110 miles of Continental Divide Trail.
The Continental Divide forms the route of the third largest transit migration in the United States, theContinental Divide Trail. The trail enters the south side of Glacier Park at Marias Pass and heads northeast through the park, past Two Medicine, over Triple Divide Peak, past Many Glacier, along the Highline Trail, Goat Haunt, and finally to the border. with Canada.
28. There are over 1,000 campsites inside Glacier National Park.
And that doesn't even include camping outside the country!
29. Scenes from Glacier Park appear in several popular movies.
especially parts ofthe shine,Forrest Gump, YThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobethey were filmed in the park.
30. There is a famous Robin Williams quote about Glacier Park.
there are many inspiringquotes about montana, and Glacier is no exception. Robin Williams said of the park, "If it's not God's backyard, he certainly lives nearby."
31. Not everyone loves glaciers.
Honestly, the worst thing I can say about visiting Glacier National Park is that it gets really crowded and the weather is sometimes not great. But many visitors have a lot more negative things to say. Here are some of my favorite star reviews from the park:
- “Most of the park is not covered by glaciers”
- "Glaciers are too cold to touch"
- “You have to go uphill everywhere”
- “Lots of waterfalls”
So if you want hot glaciers (?) or don't like waterfalls (?), stay at home!
Information for Glacier National Park Visitors
If you're planning a trip to Glacier National Park, here are the things you should know before you go.
32. Park admission is $35.
The $35 fee includes a vehicle and is valid for seven days. In winter, the fee drops to $25. As with all US national parks, Glacier entry is covered by the $80 entrance fee.America the Beautiful Pase Anual.
33. There are seven entrances to the park.
By far the busiest entrances are the Glacier West Entrance (known as the West Entrance) on the (duh) west side of the park and the St. Mary's Entrance on the east side. The Many Glacier and Two Medicine entrances, both on the east side of the park, are also frequently used.
A little further away are the Camas Creek and Polebridge entrances on the west side, and the Cut Bank entrance on the east side (anyone heard of that?). Visitors wishing to navigate the Going-to-the-Sun road usually enter through the West Glacier or Saint Mary Glacier entrances.
34. The park has three visitor centers.
The three visitor centers are located along Going-to-the-Sun Road:
- St. Mary's Visitor Center near the east entrance
- Apgar Visitor Center, near the west entrance
- Logan Pass Visitor Center at the highest point in Going-to-the-Sun
35. Estrada do Sol is only open for about three months of the year.
The Going to the Sun road is one of the park's biggest attractions, but if you want to drive, it has a narrow window. The famous path usually opens in mid-July, when the previous year's snow has been completely removed, and is usually only open until mid-October, when the snow starts to fall again.
36. You may need a reservation to ride the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Hereservation system it's new, so check the ticket requirements before your trip. And do it as soon as possible because tickets sell out almost immediately.
37. The park is getting crowded, very crowded.
Unless you're planning to visit in the winter or take a tour of the countryside, forget about having the park to yourself (or posting it on Instagram without other tourists!).
Glacier is absolutely packed in the summer, with rush-hour traffic along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and campsites filling up months in advance. Still worth a visit, but don't say we didn't warn you.
38. It's cold at night, even in summer.
If you're camping in Glacier National Park, pack a warm sleeping bag and pajamas! Even during the summer months, overnight lows are often around 40.
39. But during the day it is hot.
Summer highs on Glacier are usually in the 80's, so be prepared for heat during the day. Wear light clothing, use sunscreen, and pack plenty of water and snacks, especially when you're out and about.
40. The closest airport to Glacier National Park is approximately 25 miles away.
Glacier Park International Airport is about a half-hour drive from the entrance to West Glacier Park and just outside the town of Kalispell.
41. You can take Amtrak to Glacier National Park.
On its route between Minneapolis and Seattle/Portland, Amtrak's Empire Builder Line travels directly along the south rim of Glacier Park, offering beautiful views along the way. It's a totally unique way to experience the park's amazing scenery - a must-see for train lovers!
42. These are the estimated travel times to the park:
- From Whitefish: 40 minutes
- From Kalispell: 50 minutes
- From Missoula: 2 hours and 45 minutes
- From Helena: 4 hours
- From Bozeman: 5 hours
- From Yellowstone National Park: 6 hours
- From billing: 6 hours and 15 minutes
43. Responsible travel is vital at Glacier Park.
Why bother learning all these facts about Glacier National Park when we won't leave the park any better than we found it? Responsible travel is important everywhere, but even more so in places with fragile ecosystems or overtourism, and Glacier, like most of the country's popular national parks, is both.
So, when you're in the park, follow these steps to travel more responsibly:
- Try to visit outside the high season (July to September).
- Walk to the less popular areas of the park (on Going-to-the-Sun Road).
- If possible, take the bus.
- Dispose of all rubbish in the bins provided or unpack.
- Pack reusable items instead of relying on single-use items.
- Completely extinguish all campfires.
- Stay on designated paths.
- Do not carve, draw or paint objects in nature, including trees and rocks.
- Do not build caerns (rock piles) and do not disturb any rock piles you find.
- Stay at least 100 feet from all wildlife and 400 feet from bears and wolves.
Books about Glacier National Park
Want more information about Glacier National Park? Many books have been written about the park, from historical accounts and scientific analysis to guides and thrillers. For more information, check out one of these:
Moon Glacier National Park: Hiking, Camping, Lakes and Peaks– one of the main guides of the park
Glacier National Park: The First 100 Years– an illustrated book commemorating the centenary of the park
Death and Survival in Glacier National Park: True Stories of Tragedy, Courage and accident- Real stories of park disasters and accidents and the search and rescue teams that respond to them.
The Melting World: A Journey Through America's Disappearing Glaciers- an alarming account of melting ice sheets in the park
Glacier National Historical Park– a detailed account of the history of the park
the wild interior- the first in a series of four thrillers set in the park
Blackfeet Tales of Glacier National Park– Tales of the Blackfeet recorded by a writer who lived with the tribe for years.
Fast Facts on Glacier National Park
Get a quick overview of the park with these frequently asked questions.
What state is Glacier National Park in?
How big is Glacier National Park?
1,583 square miles
How many glaciers are there in it? Glacier National Park?
Are there bears in Glacier National Park?
Yes, so explore responsibly andto be aware.
How high is Glacier National Park?
3,215 at its lowest, 10,466 at its highest
How was Glacier National Park formed??
The park's natural features have evolved over 1.6 billion years (!) through sediment deposition, shifting tectonic plates, erosion and glaciation.
What are the main activities in Glacier National Park?
Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, camping, conversations with rangers
Is Glacier National Park open in the winter?
Yes, but most services are not available and most roads are inaccessible to vehicles. The Lake McDonald area is an amazing place toCross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Are glaciers shrinking in Glacier National Park?
Unfortunately -all of them.
Did we miss more fun facts about Glacier National Park? Write them in the comments!
What are some fun facts about Glacier National Park for kids? ›
For about 20,000 years, glaciers have shaped the park's mountains, valleys, and lakes. Many of the glaciers have melted, but about 25 glaciers continue to sculpt the land. One major natural feature of the park is the Garden Wall, a narrow ridge carved by glaciers on both sides.What is Glacier National Park nickname? ›
Glacier National Park, nicknamed “The Crown of the Continent,” spans 1,583 rugged square miles in northwest Montana south of Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada, and together the two constitute the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.What is special about glacier? ›
1) Glaciers are huge masses of ice that “flow” like very slow rivers. They form over hundreds of years where fallen snow compresses and turns into ice. 2) Glaciers form the largest reservoir of fresh water on the planet. In fact, they store 75% of the world's fresh water!How old is the glacier? ›
How old is glacier ice? The age of the oldest glacier ice in Antarctica may approach 1,000,000 years old The age of the oldest glacier ice in Greenland is more than 100,000 years old The age of the oldest Alaskan glacier ice ever recovered (from a basin between Mt. Bona and Mt. Churchill) is about 30,000 years old.How old is Glacier National Park? ›
By the late 1800s, influential leaders like George Bird Grinnell, pushed for the creation of a national park. In 1910, Grinnell and others saw their efforts rewarded when President Taft signed the bill establishing Glacier as the country's 10th national park.How many animals are in Glacier National Park? ›
Three major rivers provide pathways for plants and animals from throughout the Continent. Glacier National Park is rich with plants and animals. Approximately 1132 species of plants, 277 species of birds, and 66 species of mammals live here.What are 2 glacier and ice cap facts? ›
Some glacier and icecap facts. Glaciers store about 69% of the world's freshwater, and if all land ice melted the seas would rise about 230 feet¹ (70 meters)(NSIDC). During the last ice age (when glaciers covered more land area than today) the sea level was about 400 feet (122 meters) lower than it is today.What is the youngest glacier? ›
This image, acquired by one of the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites on 3 December 2021, shows the Crater Glacier, located on Mount St. Helens, Washington State, USA.What is glacier snow called? ›
Last Updated: Article History. Table of Contents. firn, (German: “of last year”, ) also called Névé, partially compacted granular snow that is the intermediate stage between snow and glacial ice. Firn is found under the snow that accumulates at the head of a glacier.How did glacier get its name? ›
The word glacier is a loanword from French and goes back, via Franco-Provençal, to the Vulgar Latin glaciārium, derived from the Late Latin glacia, and ultimately Latin glaciēs, meaning "ice". The processes and features caused by or related to glaciers are referred to as glacial.
Who owns Glacier National Park? ›
Glacier National Park is managed by the National Park Service, with the park's headquarters in West Glacier, Montana.What is glacier very short answer? ›
Glaciers are large, thick masses of ice that form on land when fallen snow gets compressed into ice over many centuries.What are the 2 main types of glacier? ›
Cirque and Alpine Glaciers
Alpine glaciers originate high in the mountains in many of our National Parks. When they form in small bowls with steep sides (cirques), they are known as cirque glaciers.
A glacier is a large, perennial accumulation of crystalline ice, snow, rock, sediment, and often liquid water that originates on land and moves down slope under the influence of its own weight and gravity.How deep is a glacier? ›
Although few glaciers have been measured, the measured thicknesses range from a few tens of meters for small glaciers to about 1,500 meters for the largest glaciers in Alaska.Can you drink glacier water? ›
Can you get sick from glacier water? It's not a good idea to drink water straight from glaciers in Alaska. Glaciers have been known to carry bacteria, viruses, atmospheric dust, heavy metals, and even remnants of human feces.How many glaciers are left? ›
There are over 200,000 glaciers distinct from the ice sheets; and if all of these glaciers were to melt, they would increase sea level by just under half a meter (1.6 feet).Who founded glacier park? ›
Glacier National Park, Montana. In 1910, Congress established Glacier National Park in Montana. Conservationist George Bird Grinnell played a key role in the creation of this park in order to preserve the land's natural beauty.How long until Glacier National Park is gone? ›
You may have heard about Glacier National Park updating some exhibits that referenced research that indicated that the park's glaciers could be gone by 2020 or 2030.How many bears are in a glacier? ›
Researchers have estimated that Glacier provides habitat for nearly one thousand bears.
How many grizzlies are in Glacier? ›
Based on a multi-year DNA study, it's estimated that there are roughly 300 grizzly bears living within Glacier National Park.How many glaciers are left in Glacier park? ›
At the end of the Little Ice Age about 1850, the area containing the national park had 150 glaciers. There are 25 active glaciers remaining in the park today.What are 10 facts about glaciers? ›
- NASA keeps a close eye on glaciers. ...
- Really old snow can form a glacier. ...
- Glaciers are really, really big. ...
- Glaciers hold a lot of water. ...
- Glaciers can flow like rivers. ...
- Glaciers carry stuff as they move. ...
- You can tell where a glacier has been. ...
- Glaciers can have a bluish tint.
About three-quarters of Earth's freshwater is stored in glaciers. Therefore, glacier ice is the second largest reservoir of water on Earth and the largest reservoir of freshwater on Earth!Why are glaciers blue? ›
Glacier ice is blue because the red (long wavelengths) part of white light is absorbed by ice and the blue (short wavelengths) light is transmitted and scattered. The longer the path light travels in ice, the more blue it appears.What is the deepest glacier? ›
Recognized as the deepest and thickest alpine temperate glacier known in the world, the Taku Glacier is measured at 4,845 feet (1,477 m) thick.What is the biggest glacier ever found? ›
The largest glacier in the world, Antarctica's Lambert Glacier, is one of the world's fastest-moving ice streams. (Ice streams are parts of an ice sheet that move faster than the sheet as a whole.)What is the fastest glacier? ›
Sermeq Kujalleq, also called Jakobshavn glacier, is known as the world's fastest glacier.How fast do glaciers move? ›
Most glaciers creep along at a pace that's too slow to detect with the naked eye (about a foot a day). But sometimes conditions are just right to cause glaciers to surge. forward at speeds up to 100+ feet per day!What is dirty snow called? ›
Snirt – Snirt is an informal term for snow covered with dirt, especially where strong winds pick up topsoil from uncovered farm fields and blow it into nearby snowy areas. Also, dirty snow left over from plowing operations.
Can you eat glacier snow? ›
It is generally safe to eat snow or use it for drinking or for making ice cream, but there are some important exceptions. If the snow is lily-white, you can safely ingest it. But if the snow is colored in any way, you'll need to stop, examine its color, and understand what it means.What are the 3 parts of a glacier? ›
During movement there are three parts of the glacier: The zone of basal sliding; the zone of plastic flow; and the rigid zone. The rigid zone is brittle and sometimes is broken into crevasses. Ice sheets move with these three zones but often spread laterally rather than flow downslope.What are the 3 types of glaciers? ›
There are three types of continental glaciers, ice sheets, ice caps, and outlet. An ice sheet covers an area larger than 50,000 square kilometers (19,305 sq. mil.). Greenland and Antarctica and are covered by massive ice sheets today.Who lived in Glacier National Park first? ›
Archeological evidence shows human occupation of this landscape dating back to the retreat of the Ice Age glaciers 12,000 years ago. These mountains still hold spiritual significance for the local Blackfeet, Salish and Kootenai Tribes. For centuries, Chief Mountain has helped define Blackfeet territory.Can you live at Glacier National Park? ›
You'll find St. Mary Village where the wilderness of Glacier National Park meets the sweeping plains of Montana. The remote settings call to adventurers who live at the jumping-off point to the heart of the park — the intersection of the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road and the eastside boundary highway (MT 89).What is the biggest glacier in Glacier National Park? ›
The biggest glacier in the park is Harrison Glacier. It currently covers over half a square mile of land. The largest lake is Lake McDonald, which is 9.4 miles long, 1.5 miles wide and 464 feet deep.How much money does Glacier National Park get? ›
The report shows that 3 million visitors to Glacier National Park in 2018 spent $344 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 5,230 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $484 million.How did glacier park get its name? ›
Glacier, a beloved park in northwestern Montana, takes its name from the many glaciers and glacial forces that shaped its rugged topography over two million years.How many glaciers are left in Glacier National Park? ›
At the end of the Little Ice Age about 1850, the area containing the national park had 150 glaciers. There are 25 active glaciers remaining in the park today.What are the amazing facts? ›
- Glaciers and ice sheets hold about 69 percent of the world's freshwater. ...
- The fastest gust of wind ever recorded on Earth was 253 miles per hour. ...
- Recent droughts in Europe were the worst in 2,100 years. ...
- The best place in the world to see rainbows is in Hawaii.
What are glaciers short answers 7? ›
Glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight; it forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries.What are glaciers short answers 6? ›
Glaciers are large, thick masses of ice that form on land when fallen snow gets compressed into ice over many centuries.Who discovered glacier park? ›
In 1806, the Lewis and Clark Expedition came within 50 miles (80.5 km) of the area that is now the park. By the middle of the 1800s, the mountainous region of Glacier National Park had been "discovered" and explored by early white explorers.Can the glaciers freeze again? ›
In fact, record-smashing heatwaves were reported earlier this year in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Melting ice and collapsing glaciers at high latitudes would accelerate sea level rise around the planet. Fortunately, it would be both feasible and remarkably cheap to refreeze the poles by reducing incoming sunlight.Is a glacier only ice? ›
A glacier is a large, perennial accumulation of crystalline ice, snow, rock, sediment, and often liquid water that originates on land and moves down slope under the influence of its own weight and gravity.