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A visit to Glacier National Park is a promise of awe-inspiring mountain views, pristine alpine meadows, and trickling creeks. A hiker’s daydream, Glacier National Park has plenty of trails to discover. If you are planning a trip, don’t overlook the chance to spend a few days in the Many Glacier region of the park. Many Glacier Valley is home to sweeping mountain views, lakes, and famous chalets.
Wondering what there is to do in Many Glacier? We have some recommendations to inspire your itinerary.
About Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is located in northern Montana and is often called the Crown of the Continent. With spectacular mountain views, meadows, forests, and lakes, the over 700 miles of trails are full of natural wonders. The park also has glaciers, many of which are receding. The park rangers are making an effort to educate visitors as much as possible about the dangers of the vanishing glaciers.
Please leave no trace when traveling around Glacier National Park. Avoid damaging the glaciers and plant life. Glacier National Park is also home to 71 species of mammals, 6 species of amphibians, 3 species of reptiles, 276 species of birds, and countless species of both fish and insects.
What is Many Glacier?
Many Glacier refers to the area known as Many Glacier Valley, in which Many Glacier cuts through. There is also the Many Glacier Hotel, built in 1914-15 by the Great Northern Railway to showcase their hotels and chalets.
Therefore, when someone mentions Many Glacier in Glacier National Park, they may be referring to the hotel or its surroundings. Within this area, there are also many mountains and natural wonders to behold.
Where is the Many Glacier Area?
The Many Glacier area is located to the east, starting at the Many Glacier entrance to the park. Route 3 extends from the entrance, moving west towards roads that lead to Many Glacier Hotel and, further west, the Many Glacier Ranger Station, Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, Many Glacier Campground, and Swiftcurrent Auto Camp Historic District.
You can also find numerous trailheads in this area that lead to many of the glaciers and mountains.
When is the Best Time to Visit Many Glacier Valley?
Peak season is July and August. While you can visit at any time throughout the year, there are sections of Glacier National Park that are closed off due to poor traveling conditions. If you want access to all roads and trails, the best time to visit Many Glacier Valley is between July and August. In July and August, the temperatures reach a high of 82-84 degrees F (27.8-28.9 degrees C). The park’s facilities will be open, and a complimentary shuttle service is available for guests.
By mid-September, some of the trails at higher elevations will be shut down. In the winter, you can expect many more road and trail closures.
How to Get to Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is close to Kalispell, MT and Glacier Park International Airport. The Many Glacier Entrance Station is on Many Glacier Road, known as Route 3. It’s about 9 miles from Saint Mary, Montana and also near the eastern end of Going to the Sun Road. Many Glacier is also about 11 miles from the Canadian border.
A note on road conditions: Much of Many Glacier Road is riddled with potholes, making the condition of the road rather treacherous to navigate. It is advised that you drive slowly while making your way to your lodgings. You don’t need a special vehicle for the roads, but you can’t be reckless. Furthermore, many wild animals cross Route 3, as do cows.
Fortunately, during the 2021/2022 season, there are repairs being made to the road. For this reason, some sections of Many Glacier Road will be unavailable or inaccessible. You may have to enter the park from another direction or rethink your travel dates. You can find the most recent updates on the road status on the official website or read the press release.
12 Things to do at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park
Want to know if a visit to Many Glacier is worth your while? Take a look at all the things to do. There are tons of possibilities, especially if you love any kind of outdoor activity.
1. Stay at Many Glacier Hotel
If you are headed to Many Glacier valley, then you should check out the Many Glacier hotel. The Swiss-inspired architecture is beautiful against the mountainous scenery, making it perfect for pictures. Why not book a room for a night or three at the Many Glacier Hotel, too? The historic chalet has a 4.5 rating and is known for exceptional service.
Many Glacier hotel also has some interesting history. During construction, the laborers faced many hardships. At the time, building such a massive hotel was an endeavor. The builders faced below freezing temperatures in order to complete the Many Glacier Hotel prior to its opening day on July 4, 1915.
The location also has a Swiss Lodge, a gift shop, Heidi’s Snack Shop, Ptarmigan Dining Room, and excursions available. You can easily book boat cruises, red bus tours, horseback tours, ranger programs, and other activities at reception.
2. Hike The Grinnell Glacier Trail
One of the most popular things to do in Many Glacier is hike to the Grinnell Glacier and overlook. The glacier was discovered by George Bind Grinnell in 1850. Grinnell fell in love with the beauty of the area, so he devoted the rest of his life to ensuring the national park was created. When you’re on this trail, you begin to understand why Grinnell fought so hard to protect this place.
The first section of the Grinnell Glacier Trail is the same as the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail. Keep moving towards Lake Josephine. Here is where you start to see some miraculous scenery. If you come when the wildflowers are blooming, expect to see a carpet of blossoms.
Once you round Lake Josephine, the trail begins to climb higher, rising above Grinnell Lake. You can admire the turquoise waters from above, as well as the surrounding mountains. As you go farther and farther along the trail, the views only get more intense. There is a series of switchbacks, and eventually, you make it to the glacier.
Sadly, Grinnell Glacier, like all the rest, is vanishing rapidly. Make sure you come during peak season to see the glacier, otherwise the trail might be blocked off due to safety hazards.
Overall, the trail is about 10.6 miles roundtrip and rated as strenuous.
3. Try The Grinnell Lake Hike
Maybe hiking to the glacier seems a bit much. Maybe you arrived too early in the year and the snow hasn’t entirely melted yet. No worries. There’s a trail for you. The Grinnell Lake hike in Many Glacier is one of the most gentle. About 6.8 miles roundtrip, this trail takes you towards the shores of the lake.
The trail rises about 60 feet. Keep in mind that sometimes this trail is closed off halfway due to flooding. Be sure to read any updates on trail conditions before you head out for the day so you don’t end up disappointed.
Of course, getting to see the beautiful waters up close is worth the hike. Be sure to snap plenty of pictures to show your friends the unbelievable colors of the lake.
4. See Apikuni Falls
One of the best sights in Many Glacier has to be Apikuni Falls. The waterfall rushes down chiseled rocks and through foliage, making for gorgeous scenery. Getting to Apikuni Falls looks easy on the map, as the trail is only 2 miles long roundtrip, but it’s nothing short of a workout.
Within one mile to the top of the falls, the trail gains 700 ft. The trail is narrow and winds through densely packed undergrowth. When you finally emerge from the woods, the base of Apikuni Falls will be within your sights.
Turn around briefly to glimpse the way you came. A vista filled with multiple mountain peaks will make your jaw drop. While the hike to Apikuni Falls is one of the shortest, you get some of the best views of the park.
5. Hike to the Top of Apikuni Mountain
Maybe you want to do something a bit more challenging while you’re in the area looking at the Apikuni Falls. Scaling a mountain sound good? Apikuni Mountain rises about 9,068 feet high. You can’t see this mountain from Many Glacier Hotel, because Mount Henkel and Altyn Peak are in the way.
What’s unique about Apikuni Mountain is its shape, which is reminiscent of an elephant’s back. Climbing to the top gets you two views: first of the Kennedy Lake area, which is rarely visited, and the tallest peak in Glacier National Park, Mount Merritt. You can also see Old Sun Glacier from the peak.
The hike up the mountain isn’t very technical, but you will need strong lungs and legs. The climb sends you up 4,200 feet in a relatively short amount of time. It takes about 6-8 hours in total.
To get to the trailhead that provides direct access to the mountain, start one mile east of the hotel on Many Glacier Road. There should be a sign for horsing crossings, a small parking area, and trail markers pointing to Poia Lake and Apikuni Falls. Follow the trail that widens above Apikuni Falls to the top.
6. Visit Iceberg Lake
At 9.6 miles, the Iceberg Lake trail is moderately long but also one of the easier hikes. There isn’t much of an elevation gain to worry about (about 1,200 feet over 5 miles), and the pay off at the end is humongous.
Make sure you choose a clear day to wander this trail, as mountains frame the pathway. It also helps to stay alert, as black bears and grizzlies tend to prowl around this area. Bring bear spray with you, make noise, and try to avoid hiking solo.
At around 2.7 miles in, you come across the Ptarmigan Falls. There is a small rocky outcropping where you can take a brief rest before moving on. From there, the valley starts to widen, opening up the view of mountainsides, swaths of trees, and yes, the lake. You might even see a moose or two and some mountain goats.
When you reach Iceberg Lake, you’re in for a treat. Aside from the icebergs floating around the pristine waters, there are also mountains soaring high above you. Use your time around the lake to rest and recharge. Have a snack then prepare to hike back the way you came.
7. Wander the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail is one of the more popular trails in Many Glacier valley. You travel through a dense forest then up through a valley, along the continental divide, and beyond. There are three sections to the trail, so you can decide how far you wish to go. The first section, which takes you to Fishercap Lake, Red Rock Lake, and Red Rock Falls, is the least strenuous of the three. The second and third parts ascend rapidly, taking you to the Swiftcurrent Mountain summit.
The first section is recommended for all ages and is rather enjoyable. The scenery to Red Rock Falls is magnificent, and the falls are also picturesque. The best part? The hike to Red Rock Falls is short, flat, and non-strenuous.
The second segment continues onward to Bullhead Lake. Again, this isn’t as tiring as some other hikes. Breathtaking scenery continues on through to the gorgeous lake. Bullhead Lake is just below the Swiftcurrent Headwall, so you can look up and see if you’re up for the challenge or not.
Now for the challenge. If you decide to hike up the Swiftcurrent Headwall to Swiftcurrent Pass, you need to be prepared for a 2,300-foot elevation gain and snow. You rise high above the lakes via switchbacks and eventually come to the Devil’s Elbow. Don’t look down. From there, you can choose to continue on to the beautiful Granite Park Chalet, a national treasure.
At this point, you can opt to descend the mountain by using the Highline Trail or you can brave another 1.2 miles uphill and reach the summit of Swiftcurrent Mountain. The views from the top of the mountain are astounding, but you will need additional gear to tackle the ice and snow.
Note of Caution
One thing you must absolutely bring with you is bear spray. Grizzlies are attracted to the abundant berry bushes that cluster along the trail during the first few miles of the hike. Even in the morning, the bears will be lumbering about.
8. Witness the Jaw-Dropping Ptarmigan Tunnel
The Ptarmigan Tunnel was created in 1930 to help people on horseback find a way around the steep climb between Many Glacier and Belly River Valley. Nowadays, you can hike this path. The start of the Ptarmigan Tunnel trail is the same as the path leading to the Grinnell Glacier, but you veer off to a different path at the Ptarmigan Falls. Keep your eyes peeled for the markers.
Coming out of that section, you arrive at the view of a lake in the distance and the switchbacks you’ll be traveling. Getting to the tunnel is the hardest part. Once you’re through, the amazing view will leave you speechless.
Keep in mind that the doors to the tunnel are only open between mid-July to the end of September. After that, they are closed for the season and you won’t be able to get through.
9. Go Boating and Kayaking Around The Lakes
Perhaps you have tired yourself out with the hiking you’ve been doing and need a rest day. In that event, why not go on a boat tour or try kayaking? The boat tour takes you out on the waters of Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake and lasts about 1.5 hours. A short hike is also included between the lakes. You learn a bit more about the park and the surroundings and see beautiful sights to photograph.
Be sure to reserve your tickets with the Glacier Park Boat Company in advance. The tours tend to sell out quickly.
Another option is renting a canoe, kayak, or rowboat. They are located near Many Glacier Hotel. For $15 an hour, you can get the boat of your choice and spend time traversing the waters at your leisure. This is a great choice for those who want some solitary time.
You can also bring your binoculars along and go bird watching from the water. You never know what kind of birds will soar overhead.
10. Find a Campsite and Pop a Tent
What trip to Glacier National Park is complete without at least one night spent in a tent? The Many Glacier campground is located a short distance away from the ranger station and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. It’s also one of the most popular campsites in the whole park.
There are 109 campsites available to rent. Summertime is when the campgrounds are most packed, but you can usually grab a site without having to reserve in advance. The campground also has several bathrooms and showers available, and it is a short walk from a camp store and restaurant.
Nearby, you will also find trailheads that lead to Fishercap Lake and Swiftcurrent Lake.
11. Check Out Fishercap Lake
Have you come all the way to Many Glacier with the hope of seeing a moose? Fishercap Lake is one of the best spots in Glacier National Park to do that. Thirsty moose head to the lake throughout the day and sometimes go wading about in the shallows. Hang around long enough, and you might see one or several show up!
The trail leading to Fishercap Lake is the same one that starts you off on the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail. You can find the trailhead at the Swiftcurrent parking lot, near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. Look for the sign.
If you’re visiting the park during the off season, there is a high chance that much of Fishercap Lake is going to be frozen over. Even in the warmest months, patches of snow will still dot the pathways.
12. Go on a Red Bus Tour
One of the best ways to learn about the park and all that lives within it is to go on an interpretive tour. Fortunately, Glacier National Park has a fun option for you. Have you heard of the Red Buses? They’re famous and the best way to see the park without having to do any hiking.
There are 33 buses on the fleet. In fact, the Red Buses are considered the oldest touring fleet in the entire world, making the ride a truly one of a kind experience.
The Red Buses were constructed in the 1930s and are part of the park’s heritage. For years, the buses have served as a main mode of transport for visitors. The buses are equipped with roll-back tops, so you can tip your head back and view the rocky walls and mountains easily. Every guide is a park ranger, and they’re happy to share everything they know during the tour.
Be sure to book your Red Bus tour before you go so you know you have a seat.
Ready to Visit the Many Glacier Area?
Mountain hiking, decadent lodgings, and breathtaking nature all around. What more could you ask for? The Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park is popular for good reason, as it has a decent mix of hiking for all ages and fitness levels. Whether you want to relax on the lakes or go for challenging hikes to mountain summits, there is something for everyone here. Itching to pack your bags and go? So are we.
1. Is Many Glacier open in 2021?
Yes, Many Glacier is open in 2021. However, there are a couple of things you need to consider. First, Many Glacier Road is closed due to construction and is slated to reopen in 2022. For this reason, you may be unable to reach the Many Glacier area. Furthermore, most of the lodgings, facilities, and trails begin to shut down after September 14, 2021. For Red Bus tours and other park facilities, wearing a mask is required, regardless of your vaccination status. You can check for updates on the official website.