- Glacier National Park offers stunning natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and iconic attractions like Going-to-the-Sun Road and Northern Lights viewing.
- Visitors can enjoy scenic drives, hike to glaciers and mountain peaks, and participate in water activities in tranquil areas of the park.
- The red shuttle buses offer a convenient way to explore the park, while the International Peace Park allows a unique cross-border experience between the US and Canada.
Glacier National Park offers stunning natural beauty that can be experienced through its diverse landscapes and ecosystems. This one-day Glacier National Park itinerary aims to efficiently connect visitors to some of the park’s most iconic attractions, including its famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, towering mountain passes, placid alpine lakes, notorious red shuttle buses, and glimpses of wildlife against glacial backdrops—all packed into a memorable day of scenic adventures, including the chance to see Northern Lights from Glacier National Park.
Scenic roadways, mountain vistas, glittering lakes, and historic sites in this packed itinerary supply plenty of opportunities to take in the stunning views. There are a variety of places to stay at Glacier National Park, from rustic cabins to luxurious lodges, for when travelers are ready to call it a day or wish to extend their visit.
Drive Along The Going-To-The-Sun-Road
Going to the Sun Road and the McDonald Valley in the autumn full of fall foliage in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
For travelers wondering how to spend one day in Glacier National Park, perhaps trying one of the most scenic drives in the US is the ideal answer.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is easily one of the most beautiful roads in America; this remarkable 50-mile road crosses the heart of Glacier National Park and reaches heights over 6,646 feet, providing breathtaking views of glacial valleys and imposing mountain peaks.
The road is usually only open from late June until mid-September due to heavy snowfall in the winter and spring months.
The road is subject to delays and closures due to rockfall or avalanche dangers.
Enjoy Some Of The Best Views In Glacier National Park From Logan Pass
A view of the Logan Pass Visitor Center in Glacier National Park
Situated at 6,646 feet, Logan Pass is the highest elevation point accessible by vehicle on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. There is hiking available to see the stunning trails branching off from Logan Pass and hikers can take in the awe-inspiring mountain scenery.
Hikers can also discover cutthroat trout in Hidden Lake and mountain goats along the bordering hiking paths.
- Operational: July through late October.
Bears and similar wildlife are around, so it is important to be alert.
Enjoy Water Activities On Two Medicine Lake
The dock at Two Medicine Lake
On the remote eastern edge of Glacier National Park, Two Medicine offers tranquil scenery and opportunities for adventures away from crowds. Visitors can also camp at Two Medine Lake Campground.
Some of the most scenic hikes in Glacier National Park are found here, such as the Cobalt Lake Trail. Plus, canoeing is open on the calm waters of Two Medicine Lake.
The area is about an hour’s drive from Many Glacier or Saint Mary. Also, campers must keep an eye out for wildlife like bears, bighorn sheep, and moose.
Explore Scenic Drives On North Shore Road And Try Boating At Lake McDonald Valley
Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, Montana
Lake McDonald Valley on Glacier’s western boundary showcases the park’s spectacular beauty.
The scenic North Shore Road gives the opportunity to photograph the Bowman Lake overlook. Hikers meet 13 miles of trail on the relatively flat Poia Lake Trail and have the choice to row a boat on the largest lake in Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald.
Take A Glacier Red Bus Tour
Driving the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park
The iconic red buses of Glacier National Park offer a fun and convenient way to explore the park’s highlights without a car. Buses run the entire length of the 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road with multiple stops for scenic views and short hiking opportunities.
Driving to Glacier National Park allows visitors to see these magnificent buses and experience the park in a truly unique way. Expert narrators share the area’s natural and human history.
Hike To Grinnell Glacier
Grinnell Glacier Trail, Many Glacier Valley.
The receding Grinnell Glacier located high in the park is a stark reminder of the effects of climate change. A challenging 7.6-mile round-trip hike climbs over 1,800 feet to view the glacier up close.
- Permit: Overnight backcountry camping requires a free permit
Be prepared for snow year-round and carry traction devices in the early season due to slippery conditions.
Visit Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
Sign of the Park at the Chief Mountain Border Crossing, Waterton-Glacier International Peace
Among the more unique things to do in one day in Glacier National Park is to see two countries – yes, in a single day! Together with Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park, these adjoining parks were established in 1932 as the world’s first International Peace Park to symbolize peaceful relations between two countries (Canada and the USA).
A free shuttle connects the border towns of East Glacier and Waterton Village daily during the summer months.
- Operations: Open May to September.
Present both U.S. and Canadian identification for the border crossing into either country. Also, activities like canoeing on Lower Waterton Lake are excellent ways to experience the joint management of both national treasures.
St. Mary Lake with Goose Island
At the eastern foot of the park’s inner mountains along the St. Mary River, St. Mary offers an escape from summer crowds, and visiting is among the best things to do in Glacier National Park for those seeking its quieter areas.
Hikers can explore exhibits at the St. Mary Visitors Center, spot bighorn sheep from Going-to-the-Sun Road, or fish the swift glacial river known for its cutthroat trout. Other things to do in St. Mary include biking, camping, boating, fishing, and ranger-led programs.
- Room Rates: $149 per night.
Overnight backpacking in this remote area requires a permit and Leave No Trace principles.
Take A Tour Of Flathead Lake With The Glacier Park Boat Company
Flathead Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
Another one of the best things to do in Glacier National Park in a day is to tour one of the park’s most stunning lakes. The historic Glacier Park Boat Company operates the largest private fleet of boats on Flathead Lake, which forms part of the park’s western boundary.
Breathtaking views are available on a scenic boat tour of the lake, with alpine areas only accessible by water. Narrated trips pass by mountain goats, freshwater seals, and glacial remnants.
Multiple daily departures run from mid-May through mid-September, subject to weather conditions.
Spot Wildlife While Hiking At Hidden Lake
View from the Hidden Lake Overlook in Glacier National Park
Hikers will find Harlequin ducks along the shoreline, contrasting against surrounding mountain peaks reflected on the still water.
- Trail Location: Logan Pass Visitor Center
- Difficult: Moderate
Both the hike itself and the trailhead parking lot tend to be very busy during the summer months. Restrooms and food/drinks are not available at the trailhead or nearby, so plan accordingly.