West Glacier vacation rentals
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Your guide to West Glacier
Welcome to West Glacier
Many of Montana’s most popular adventures start in West Glacier, situated, perhaps unsurprisingly, at the west entrance to the iconic Glacier National Park. This tiny outpost serves as the main hub for professional guides and outdoor outfitters, who lead bucket-list excursions into the surrounding alpine landscapes. The area’s historic chalets, cabins, and rustic homes have hosted daring travelers since the early 20th century, when the Great Northern Railway arrived at these glacier-carved peaks.
Today, it remains the jumping-off point for hikers, boaters, and whitewater rafters, who begin their outings on the widely photographed Going-to-the-Sun Road. Famous for its hairpin turns and stunning viewpoints, this seasonal two-lane highway links many of the park’s most-visited trails, mountain lakes, and peaks. For much of the year, the region’s infamously heavy snowfall makes the road inaccessible to any traffic, granting experienced snowshoers and cross-country skiers nearly free rein of the wintry park.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in West Glacier
Most people plan their trips to West Glacier around the opening of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Due to the unpredictable weather, the road has no set schedule for reopening, but it typically becomes accessible to traffic in mid-June to early July. The warmest summer months of July and August are prime for hiking and boating. Many visitor services operate on a seasonal basis, so West Glacier tends to quiet down by late September, when solitude-seekers enjoy the changing colors of the foliage. As the weather gets colder, ice and snow storms complicate off-season travel. However, it’s a magical time for experienced winter sports lovers. While whitewater guides offer trips throughout the summer, the late-spring melt makes May to June ideal for rafting the big waters of the Flathead River.
Top things to do in West Glacier
The reflection of snowy mountains in chilly Lake McDonald ranks among the many impressive views you’ll see along Going-to-the-Sun Road. At about 10 miles (16 km) long and 472 feet (143.8 m) deep, it’s the largest lake in Glacier National Park, making it the top destination for boating and fishing around West Glacier.
Hidden Lake Overlook
More than 700 miles of trails — ranging in difficulty from easy day excursions to challenging backcountry treks — make hiking one of the best ways to explore the varied terrain in Glacier National Park. The moderate 2.8-mile (4.5 km) round-trip hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook passes through wildflower meadows, giving you views of a serene mountain lake and snow-dusted peaks. You’ll find the trailhead at Logan Pass Visitor Center, where you can get directions for more of the hikes throughout the area.
Forming the southern boundary of the national park, the wild and scenic Flathead River rushes with arguably the most thrilling whitewater rapids in Montana. Licensed rafting guides offer half-day, full-day, and overnight trips on the Middle and North forks of the river, with outings suiting both new and experienced rafters.