Glacier National Park is open every day of the year. Many love the hushed “off-seasons” when the park is blanketed by a carpet of snow that beckons the cross-country skier. Ten miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road–from park headquarters at West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge–are maintained throughout the winter, providing access to the head of Lake McDonald. The Apgar Visitor Center is open all year (weekends only in the winter, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Also, during the winter the St. Mary Campground and the Apgar Picnic area are available for camping, which is free from Dec. 1 through March 31.
The park offers ski trails in the Apgar, Lake McDonald, North Fork, St. Mary, Two Medicine, and Marias Pass areas. The best way to enjoy the park’s winter landscape is to be realistic about your abilities and check with rangers about conditions. Severe weather, lack of snow, winter rains, or melting can quickly make a winter trip dangerous. Things to remember:
- It’s a good idea to bring a topographic map.
- Plan to break trail on less popular routes.
- Pets must be on a leash at all times, and are not allowed on trails, unplowed roads, or in the backcountry.
- Snowmobiles are not permitted anywhere in the park.
- Ice is common on roads and on heavily skied trails.
- Winter backcountry travel increases the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
For information, go to the Glacier National Park Website.
HOW TO GET THERE FROM MISSOULA
- Mileage: 143 miles
- Estimated Trip Time: 2 hrs 53 minutes
- How to Get There From Missoula: