Situated next to the largest lake in Glacier National Park, Sprague Creek Campground is a perfect home base for getting wet 'n wild at Glacier. Glacier National Park is about as cool as it gets (pardon the pun). This stone-cold stunner’s 25 active glaciers feed hundreds of strikingly blue and crystal-clear lakes, cap rugged mountains, and melt into misty waterfalls. It’s no wonder Native Americans called the area, “The Backbone of the World”!
Lake McDonald is the biggest lake in the park, and certainly one of the most beautiful sights to behold. The lake’s basin was created by glaciers during the last Ice Age, and because of the glaciers, the lake is usually pretty cold. On warmer days in the summer, though, a refreshing dip would be a great way to cool off. If you’d prefer to see the lake from the shores, check out the West Shore trail, which often is overlooked by visitors. After a long hike, make sure to grab a snack at Jammer Joe’s Pizzeria at Lake McDonald Lodge.
Right next door to Lake McDonald is the perfect place for you to set up camp. Sprague Creek Campground is one of the most popular camping areas in the park due to its attractive location, so make sure to get there quick, as the site does not accept reservations. From the safety of your camper, you’ll be able to witness the ample wildlife the park has to offer. It should shape up to be a “bear-y” good time (don’t forget bear spray and bear-proof canisters for storing food, though!)
The park itself has a variety of activities—from rugged mountain climbing to woodland hiking—that will appeal to all ages and adventure levels. Reconnect with nature on more than 700 miles of trails, or lie back and count constellations—the park has been named as one of the best places in America to stargaze due to the lack of light pollution in the region.
You can reach Avalanche Lake by way of the Trail of the Cedars, a hike for all experience levels. As you travel along the trail, you can hear the sounds of the rushing creek and even see hundreds of fallen trees, a result of the lake’s namesake avalanches. For the best photo ops, arrive at the lake right before the sun rises above the mountains.
Reaching an elevation of 8,851 feet, Grinnell Peak is not for the faint of heart. The peak is less frequented by tourists, so you’ll have a more isolated climbing experience, but the view from the top is unmatched. If you’re not ready to tame the peak, the mountain itself is quite picturesque from the bottom.
Home Ranch Bottoms, known for the “coldest beer in the North Fork,” is not to be missed on your next journey to Glacier National Park. This campground, store, and tavern is open to all ages and can provide a wonderful indoor break from the Great Outdoors. The tavern’s handcrafted log bar is home to a plethora of beer, wine, and mixed drinks. Make sure to try the huckleberry ice cream after a long day’s hike!
A more family-friendly hike is the walk to Grinnell Lake, which begins at Swiftcurrent Lake. If your feet are tired, you can cut five miles off of the journey by taking a shuttle boat across both Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. After you arrive at Grinnell Lake, prepare for a surprise: Silt from the Grinnell Glacier can make the lake appear either emerald green or turquoise blue, depending on the angle of the sun.
Take a hike along the Highline Trail to discover the Garden Wall, a steep area in the park that, in summer months, is covered with flowers and shrubbery. This hike is far more strenuous than some of the others in the park, but the view is well worth the work. If you still would like to see the Wall, you also can access it easily by driving up the slope. Don’t forget that you’ll have to go back down after your visit!
Another easy hike for the whole family, St. Mary Falls provides even more great photo opportunities. The clear blue water is a sight to behold, and those who are feeling even more adventurous can hike up to the lesser-known Virginia Falls. Make sure to watch your step—the rocks around the falls are notoriously slippery!
Described by one hiker as “a postcard brought to life,” Saint Mary Lake—with its surrounding snow-capped mountains and ample greenery—is another beautiful destination. You can reach the lake by both car and foot, but for even better awe-inspiring views, make sure to catch a boat tour from Glacier Park Boat Company.
You know you’re in for an interesting experience at the quirky Two Sisters Cafe as soon as you pull up: The mural on the rooftop proclaims, “Aliens Welcome!” This must-see (and must-eat-at) attraction right outside of the park boasts a generous selection of wines, cocktails (including a huckleberry martini), beer, and home-style comfort food. Make sure to save room for dessert, as their pies are, as some might say, out of this world.
As a final goodbye after a trip well spent, take a drive down the legendary Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile stretch that traverses the entire park, and at its highest point of 6,646 feet, gives you views that are unmatchable. Due to the road’s narrow lanes and hairpin turns, the entire drive (if done safely) should take around two hours.
Glacier National Park, with its picturesque hikes, quirky restaurants, and pristine lakes, is the perfect destination for memory making. So, get your camper ready, and head off for the adventure of a lifetime!