When you first see Glacier National Park, it’s hard not to gape at the magnificent landscapes that surround and envelop you. The spectacle of the park’s towering mountain peaks, crumbling rock faces and glistening glaciers is such a poignant example of the sort of joy that seeing pure nature brings to the jaded urbanite. So pack up your backpack, a rabid sense of wonder and head west!

Sandra Bornstein

Sandy Bornstein

(Or east, depending on your location).

(Or north).

(I guess you could head south, too).

(Ok, whatever, just go to Glacier, ok?).

U.S. Department of the Interior / Flickr

U.S. Department of the Interior / Flickr

The park itself plays host to a multitude of guests year round – luring in hikers, photographers, sports enthusiasts and passive gawkers alike. However, most of the park’s provided facilities and activities are only available from late May to the end of September.

Sandra Bornstein

Sandy Bornstein

Despite its touted remote location in northwestern Montana, the park is actually incredibly easy to reach from the area’s two nearby airports.

From there, most visitors start their trek by driving down the 50-mile long Going-to-the-Sun Road. This National Historic Landmark weaves through the core of the park, providing access to the park’s dizzying crisscross of hiking trails, walking paths and campsites – a wise wanderer should bring the latest edition of the visitor guide that the park offers to navigate the narrow roadways.

Sandra Bornstein

Sandy Bornstein

Trekkers who are unsure of an exact itinerary can take advantage of park’s many suggested routes and provided tours. During the summer months, the park operates a complimentary shuttle service that runs along the main road. The park rangers also lead short walks, half-day hikes, and more challenging all-day treks that cater to all the different sorts of visitors that the park welcomes throughout the season.

Jackson and Blackfoot Glacier only glaciers visible from Going to the Sun Road GNP

Sandy Bornstein

While the wildlife is bountiful, it can be a hit or miss situation. Keep a keen eye and your camera at the ready in case of any quick glimpses – be on the lookout for parked cars or a large congregation of people, these are telltale indicators of an exciting wildlife sighting!

U.S. Geological Survey / Flickr

U.S. Geological Survey / Flickr

When the sun falls and it’s time to hit the hay, visitors have a wealth of options (*most* of them not actually involving hay) – from stays in the park’s comfortable historic lodges to roughing it in the backcountry under the stars, there’s a place for every kind of traveler to retire after a long day of exploring the spanning grounds.

Are you obsessed with our country’s beautiful national parks? Tell us why in the comments below and turn us hardened city-slickers into fervent tree huggers!

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About The Author

Sandy Bornstein

Sandy Bornstein lived as an expat in India. Her award-winning memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, highlights what she learned as the only American teacher at an international Bangalore school. After living abroad, Sandy continues to explore the world and write about her travels. You can follow Sandy's adventures at www.sandrabornstein.com.