By Michael Lanza
If you have ever backpacked in Glacier National Park, you know you want to return. If you haven’t yet, then isn’t it time? One of America’s flagship national parks, it’s a must-see destination for backpackers because of the eye-popping scenery, remoteness, and an extremely rare variety of megafauna—including mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, and black and grizzly bears—as the photo gallery below from my numerous trips in Glacier shows.
And it’s not too early to start planning a backpacking trip in Glacier for next summer.
There are many good reasons I rank Glacier as one of “America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips,” a list I base on having backpacked all over the country for more than three decades, including 10 years I spent as the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog. On every multi-day hike I’ve taken there—such as the 65-mile route I consider the best backpacking trip in Glacier—I have marveled at an ocean of mountains spreading out before us, soaring cliffs, some of the park’s 760 lakes, sightings of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and bears (yes, including grizzlies)—and enjoyed a surprising degree of solitude even while hitting many of the park’s highlights.
My advice: Start planning your Glacier adventure months in advance. Backcountry campsites can be reserved in advance starting March 15 for groups of one to eight people and March 1 for groups of nine to 12. Permits for about half of backcountry campsites in Glacier are issued on a first-come basis no more than a day before a trip’s start date—but that’s no guarantee that half of all sites will be available at any given time, because backpackers on a multi-day hike may claim some of those walk-in sites well in advance. See nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm.
Click any photo in the gallery to scroll through it and find links to stories about Glacier at The Big Outside below the gallery.
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Read “5 Reasons You Must Backpack in Glacier National Park” and all stories about backpacking in Glacier at The Big Outside (many of which require a paid subscription to read in full, including expert tips on planning those trips), as well as “How to Get a Permit to Backpack in Glacier National Park” and “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit.”
See also my expert, downloadable e-guides to two outstanding backpacking trips in Glacier and my Custom Trip Planning page to learn how I can plan every detail of a Glacier trip customized to your preferences.