Monday, September 30th, 2013

Guest Post: Fall Activities in Glacier National Park

Check out our guest writter Alanna Sobel of The National Park Foundation! We’re honored to post her contribution to our blog.

Fall Activities in Glacier National Park


Vacationing in Glacier National Park in the fall definitely has its advantages.  Summer is the peak tourist season and scheduling your vacation for September or later allows you to avoid the crowds and have many of the spectacular sights to yourself.  Traveling to Glacier National Park in the fall does require some pre-planning, but many of the destinations in the park offer gorgeous autumn palettes as a reward to those willing to brave the unpredictable weather.

When exploring Glacier National Park in the fall, self-sufficiency is very important.  It is vital to pack enough water and food for all members of your party as many of the outposts and visitor centers will be closed. Inexperienced hikers may prefer to visit during other times of the year.  However, for experienced hikers or independent travelers, autumn can offer the least amount of traffic and best opportunities to view the park’s wildlife as they actively prepare for winter.

Many Glacier is the ideal location to view the stunning glaciers the park is known for.  Given scientific predictions and the current state of climate change, many people expect the famous glaciers to disappear within the next 30 years.  Many Glacier is a refuge for those who wish to see the impact of these ancient glaciers before they are only a memory. It is also a good spot for viewing black and grizzly bears who are preparing for winter by feasting on the lush fauna.

For kayakers and canoeists that brave the park in fall, the crystal lakes of Two Medicine beckon for a dip before winter.  Once the heart of the park, this area is significantly less traveled now that most visitors focus on the Going-To-The-Sun Road.  This area is a favorite for birders and photographers thanks to its panoramic vistas.  Its thunderous waterfalls are a sight to behold and temp boaters and kayakers to explore Two Medicine’s pristine waters.

For history buffs, St. Mary Valley offers the opportunity to explore ancient homelands of the Kootenai, Blackfeet, and Salish tribes.  When the visitor’s center is open, tribe members perform drumming and dancing events for visitors and many tribal elders participate in speaking events highlighting the rich history of the tribes.  After the center closes for the season, intrepid explorers can take it upon themselves to set out and explore these ancient forests. The diverse habitat highlights the ingenuity of the tribes who have carved out a homeland and rich lifestyle in this vast alpine valley.

Persistence pays off for visitors willing to brave Glacier National Park in the latter half of the year.  The decrease of visitors and the stunning seasonal change is a treat for travelers willing to march to their own beat.  Beautiful and uncluttered valleys, as well as wide-open waters await travelers visiting the park in the fall, before they settle under the next season’s snowfall.


Alanna Sobel is a writer for the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. In partnership with the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation enriches America’s national parks and programs through private support, preserving our country’s heritage and inspiring generations of national park enthusiasts. To learn about our national parks or to find out how you help, visit

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