During the peak of summer, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is fully open, allowing visitors to enjoy the stunning sights of northwest Montana’s Glacier National Park. With the bright sun and sweet mountain air, it’s an experience like no other.
No winter can keep Summer down. With the crowds, the added activities, and the brilliant blue skies, the only thing missing is Winter sports. Be sure to keep up to date with weather reports to prevent any unfortunate event. Thankfully, because of the reduced crowds, this is the perfect time to explore the park, so if you are brave enough to face the elements, visit during the shoulder seasons! On a wintry day, it is peaceful to be on the trails of the park. You can take your time and enjoy the environment without other people around.
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Weather in Glacier National Park
Due to the Continental Divide, the climate in Glacier National Park is divided into two regions with very different temperature extremes. The temperature can fluctuate very suddenly and without warning.
As the rough terrain and lush vegetation of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Western Coastal Ranges often allow the Western and Eastern Foothills of the park to receive different and often mixed weather conditions, the scenic forest gives way to forested valleys of tall, deciduous trees. Only a fool would enter a battle without being prepared. As such, it’s essential to come prepared and pay close attention to current day-by-day weather conditions. Bring a rain jacket in the summer months and a thick coat in the winter. Dressing in layers is always a good idea no matter what time of year you visit.
Walking through the Roaring Fork Valley, be prepared for the hot days by dressing in shorts and bringing along a light rain jacket or umbrella. Bring a heavier coat for the winter and a light jacket for the summer.
During July and August, it’s a typically sunny, warm day with a high of the mid-80s Fahrenheit (29 degrees C) and a low of the mid-40s Fahrenheit (9 degrees C).
The difference in weather between the east and west sides of the park is something that is constantly in flux, constantly changing. Though the high and low temperatures on an average day are 30 degrees F (-1 degrees C), and in the mid-teens Fahrenheit (-9 degrees C) at night, the wintertime in the west is like no other.
Winter in the west is like no other. The difference in weather between the east and west sides of the park is something that is constantly
Popular Events and Festivals
As if the outdoor adventure in the beautiful town of Whitefish wasn’t enough, the areas just outside of the park are home to many fun events and festivals throughout the year like the Northwest Montana Fair & Rodeo. However, during the summer months, visitors typically swarm to Glacier National Park, with its mountains and landscapes boasting unparalleled natural beauty. These gateway towns are just right in terms of crowds.
Summer is a lively time in Whitefish as events ranging from the Under the Big Sky Festival and the Whitefish Arts Festival in July to Huckleberry Days Arts Festival in August and Festival Amadeus, a week-long classical music festival, have visitors coming from all over. When you bike the Going-to-the-Sun Road, you can bike without vehicular traffic, and still be free to take in the less crowded areas. However, visiting before the summer season begins may cause you to experience a little more traffic.
Peak Season in Glacier National Park
You’ll be given plenty of opportunities to commune with nature, interact with our critters, and immerse yourself in some of the country’s most scenic destinations during the day, without the stress of combating the hordes of tourists that swell the population during the summer months.
In summer, Glacier National Park can get crowded with tourists, but this does not mean that outside of the park isn’t pleasant. In the off-season, hotels and resorts have a lot of availability and lodging options. Book your lodging in advance if you want to stay in a lodge or at a campsite.
The beauty of winter in the Rocky Mountains can be seen through the cascading snow, frost-laden trees, and peaceful stillness. Winter is also the best time to visit the park because the wild animals’ natural predators have passed and they have learned to fear humans less. Animals in winter in the park live in their natural environment in a season where the climate is least threatening.
Events to check out:
- Adventure is out there! You can enjoy ranger-led snowshoe walks on select weekends throughout the winter. Check-in at Apgar Visitor Center for the two-hour trek, where you can also rent snowshoes if you don’t have your own.
2. Never fear, if winter camping is for you, Glacier National Park offers auto-camping at Apgar Picnic Area and St. Mary Campground. If you are looking for a more authentic experience, explore the backcountry of Glacier National Park with a permit.
The crisp cold of winter thaws with the coming of spring. The snow begins to shift and the plants and animals begin to stir. The rivers start to flow and the landscape starts to change color. Lodging is a little less expensive as the season is shoulder season. The historic Lake McDonald Lodge is open, weather dependent, and even if you’re not staying the night, it is a great place to visit.
Events to check out:
- The Going-to-the-Sun Road is an iconic biking spot for any cyclist who’s looking for a thrilling, yet memorable experience. But be warned, safety is of the utmost importance. As the Going-to-the-Sun Road doesn’t allow cars, motorists can get hurt. So when you’re in this small window of time, always be cautious of wildlife, keep your distance, and bring bear spray.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is an iconic
- The adventurous lover of the outdoors can enjoy the summer spring by indulging in all the natural wonders of Glacier National Park. The height of spring means that Lake McDonald Valley is open for rafting, and horseback riding inside the park. Low elevation hiking and boating in Many Glacier Valley and walking and picnicking in the meadows. The Many Glacier Hotel is also open for the season, weather contingent.
If you are looking for a place to leaf peep during the fall months, the Aspen groves at the Hillside Reserve are your perfect destination. The colors are stunning. Keep your distance from wildlife. Binoculars are recommended for better viewing.
Many people feel that the Labor Day holiday is the last chance to take a break before the winter cold and snow. The townspeople of Montana seem to agree as most businesses outside of the park close after Labor Day. However, there are still those few gems such as restaurants and lodges which keep things going year-round.
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