Things to do at Glacier National Park change with the seasons. Places to stay also fluctuate with the changing temperatures. Each season also brings its own challenges, like crowds in the summer and variable road conditions throughout the rest of the year. With the right preparation and planning, though, every season in Glacier offers reasons to visit.
Spring: Spring in Glacier typically begins in May and extends through mid-June and early July in the highest regions of the park. Alongside fewer crowds to contend with, wildflowers start to give Glacier some color later in the season, and many of the park’s waterfalls are at their highest flow during the spring. Wildlife in the park also tends to become more active as things start to warm up.
Spring is a good time to visit for fewer crowds, but many facilities, including the Going-to-the-Sun Road, don’t open until late June at the earliest. Campgrounds and other facilities like restaurants and lodging also don’t generally open until Memorial Day Weekend.
Summer (Best Time to Visit): Glacier National Park is in full operation during the summer, particularly in July and August. Summer is the peak visiting season in Glacier. Popular activities in the summer include camping, backpacking, day hiking, fishing, and boating. Cooler temperatures in the evening also allows guests to enjoy Glacier’s starry night sky. The free Going-to-the-Sun Road shuttle operates on a full-time schedule in the summer.
Fall: Fall brings variable weather throughout the region, but Glacier National Park in September is a particularly good time to visit. Crowds typically diminish after Labor Day, and daytime highs stick around the 60s and 50s throughout the season. Autumn is quite colorful in Glacier, particularly between late September and mid-October when golden larches dot the mountainsides. Many of the park’s iconic hiking trails also have fewer crowds this time of year.
Several of the park’s facilities close during the fall, with resources like lodging and restaurants becoming less available throughout the season. Many campgrounds within the park also close in September, except St. Mary and Apgar Campground, which operate year-round. The Going-to-the-Sun Road typically becomes impassable by the third Monday in October.
Winter: Encompassing both sides of the Continental Divide, winter weather in Glacier National Park is variable from one region to the other. Glacier in November and December features road closures, avalanche conditions, and cold temperatures throughout the park. Despite the difficulties, winter in Glacier has many rewards that make it worth a visit.
While few facilities are open within the park during the winter, the surrounding communities are often happy to host visitors with reduced overnight rates. Free winter camping in Glacier is available at the St. Mary Campground and Apgar Campground for those equipped to handle the conditions. Popular activities for winter visitors include cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.