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Glacier Camping Review

This summer, we traveled to Glacier National Park in Montana for a week-long trip of hiking, camping, and of course fly fishing.

If you have never ventured out to the Glacier area, it’s huge. Most people refer to areas of the park as located in East or West Glacier. West Glacier is usually busier and closer to the Kalispell airport and the towns of Columbia Falls and Whitefish. East Glacier is the area east of Logan Pass and includes Many Glacier and St Mary.

Sights and Hikes: Glacier has been deemed the “Crown of the Continent” and with good reason. The road coursing through the park is named Going-to-the-Sun road and is worth a drive. It takes you next to beautiful streams, deep valleys, and to the edge of steep cliff drop offs (see video). We drove from West Glacier to Logan Pass one evening, and had far less traffic than midday.

Hidden Lake Overlook at Logan Pass

Logan Pass is the highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road and sits along the Continental Divide. The visitor center is fun to walk around and the kids liked counting ground squirrels that snuck across the path. The trail from Logan Pass is Hidden Lake Overlook and passes by melting pockets of snow. Bighorn sheep and marmot can be spotted from the trail.

kids, mountains, hiking, Lake
Avalanche Lake: Hike around the lake to get away from the crowds

Another of our favorite hikes was to Avalanche Lake. The trailhead is also located in the West Glacier area off Going-to-the-Sun Road. The hike is an out and back (3.8 mile round trip) that ends at a mountain lake. The lake is cool and the trail follows a small stream most of the hike. We also saw deer around the trail and lake.

hiking, kids, national park, mountains
Paul with a look of sheer joy,...I mean terror, on the Highline Trail

Highline Trail hike is not for the faint of heart. The entire hike is 7.4 miles that begins at Logan Pass and ends in the Granite Park Chalet in Many Glacier. We decided to hike about a mile in and turn around, but it was our favorite for the views. Along the steepest part of the trail a cable is available to hold on to. We had so much fun hiking this part, we added the Granite Park Chalet to our bucket list for future visits.

Fishing: We were pleasantly surprised by the fishing opportunities in and around Glacier. We started off the trip by visiting True Water Fly shop in Kalispell, Montana to get some local flies and tips for fishing in the park. After stocking up, we headed off to fish around Lake McDonald. The lake was stunning but the fish were few along the bank. We found this to be the case for most lakes in Glacier, including Avalanche Lake and Bowman Lake.

Kid, Fishing, trout
Julie's first unassisted fish on the Fly Rod

The third day of our trip took us west, out of Glacier National Park and into the Flathead National forest. This evening, we set up camp at Big Creek Campground and fished all evening along the North Fork of the Flathead River. We stocked up on more flies at Lary's Fly and Supply in Columbia Falls and they gave us some great advice on how to fish the local waters. The fish were plentiful, and more than willing to take our hopper/dropper combinations. Even along the North Fork of the Flathead, directly behind the campground, we were able to entice several small trout and one unexpected big Bull Trout to bite.

Fishing, family, trout
Corey with a nice rainbow and even nicer cheerleader. We were able to all fish/play and all caught fish.

The rest of the trip, we avoided fishing the lakes due to the fish being deep and out of casting range. We did have a lot of luck fishing small creeks that we explored. The streams were crystal clear and the kids had fun watching the cutthroat rise to sip their flies.

Paul learned that sometimes you can't stop the flop

Camping: For this trip, we booked a Jeep Wrangler with an iCamper on the roof through the Outdoorsy app. The iCamper was easy to set up and fit all four of us quite comfortably. We stayed in Fish Creek Campground, Big Creek Campground, and St Mary Campground. All three of these areas were difficult to get reservations for, and I highly recommend booking camping in Glacier as early as you can.

jeep, camping
Our home for the week

Glacier National Park may be out of the way, but it is worth the work to get there. The views are incredible, the campsites are clean, and the fishing was great. It is a park that holds something for everyone.

It was nice they named an area after us...


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