Glacier National Park is called the “crown of the continent” and is located in Northern Montana, south of Canada and north of Yellowstone National Park. The park has over 700 miles of trails, so naturally, you can understand it’s massive and hard to choose which trail to do! But…you’ve got to get to Grinnell Glacier.

Before I give tips on our hike, I’d like to go over some General Tips for the Park:

  • PLAN
    • Where to Hike
      • There are so many trails to choose from! Read articles/blogs (yay!), watch vlogs, ask the internet to get the best options for you!
    • Check the website for road/trail closures
      • This is seriously so important. For us, the famous Going To The Sun Road was CLOSED for two weeks connecting Logan Pass with Many Glacier. Because of this, we had to tack on an extra TWO HOURS (!!!) to drive south and around the park to the east entrances.
        • this leads me back to tip #1 which is to PLAN.
  • Where to Stay
      • Reserve campsites ahead of time if that’s what you’re doing. Everything I have read does not suggest the first-come-first-serve options.
      • If you’re like me, hotel it is. We ended up staying in Whitefish, which is a town about 40 minutes from the West Glacier entrance and I loved it!
        • We stayed at the Kandahar Lodge, which was super affordable, provided free parking/breakfast, a wellness center and was SO CUTE and cozy. We got a full kitchenette in our room as well so it’d be a great place to prepare meals for your hikes.
  • Give yourself time
    • You guys, this park is HUGE. You need hours and hours to drive from point a to point b.
  • Get an early start
    • I feel like I’m repeating myself here, but I really mean it. Logan pass parking lot is known to fill up before noon! We parked at the trailhead lot (approximately 40 parking spots maybe?) and it we got one of the last spots at 11:30am.
  • Gas
    • Everything is spread out so make sure you fill up before driving around the park. There many be gas available while inside, but I didn’t see any. Also, no phone service to look for the closest gas station either.
  • Food
    • Similar lines as food. There’s a few spots at the lodges inside the parks, but you can bring picnics and snacks! Just make sure to clean up after yourself.
  • Check in first to a visitor center
    • There are three visitor centers. Because of our reroute, we entered into St. Mary’s Visitor Center before the additional 45 minute drive to the trailhead to get maps, hike information, parking updates, weather updates and more. There’s also gift shops, welcome videos and tons of other info.
  • “Bear Aware”
    • Sooo, glacier is known for Grizzly and Brown Bear sighting. They suggest bear spray and honestly, I’m really glad I never saw one!
  • Drone are illegal
    • We found this out after our trip, but drones are illegal to fly in the park! Glad ours wasn’t working.

Now, I’ll move onto Grinnell Glacier specifics:

After a lot of research, my friend and I decided to hike to #4 Grinnell Glacier which is about a one-way trip of 5.7 mi (approx. 9km) with an elevation gain of about 2000 feet. You can park and begin at the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead, about 20 minute drive from the Many Glacier entrance. (Also suggestion that I wished we had time for was #6 Iceberg Lake)

In the map below, you can see on the pink outline that the trail actually walks along three lakes, Swiftcurrent, Lake Josephine and Grinnell Lake to eventually end up at the actual Glacier.

The hike was categorized as the most difficult out of three categories according the park hiking guide. I would consider myself a very active person and I completed the hike in almost exactly six hours, with an entire hour spent at the peak of the glacier relaxing and snacking.

For almost half the trail you get stunning views of Grinnell Lake, eventually having a view of all three lakes at once from near the Glacier so the miles go by quickly, in my opinion! Totally worth it! For the rest of the post, enjoy gorgeous photos from this hike:

the three lake lookout … & THOSE COLORS

And finally: Grinnell Glacier!

I hope this post was helpful for you! If you have any questions or additional informational to add, please leave a comment. As always, thanks for reading 🙂

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