Glacier Park Boat Company
Glacier Park Boat Company has been operating scenic boat tours on the lakes of Glacier National Park since 1938! Our goal is to provide a one-of-a-kind experience to visitors at Glacier National Park, while providing the unique history surrounding this special place. We are an environmentally conscious family-owned company dedicated to protecting and preserving the exceptional beauty of the Park. Climb aboard one of our historic wooden boats or take a kayak out on the lake and experience views only available from the water!
Glacier National Park Boating
The Glacier Park Boat Co has been operating in Glacier National Park since 1938. They have boats on five different lakes in the Park. The boats are vintage and lend to the picturesque setting. The cost is relatively low for the tours . There are many departures and you can choose how long youre actually gone from the dock. There are even guided hikes you can opt for. Its all worth it. Check out the GPBC website for details.
As we pondered whether or not we should spend a day doing a tour and skipping naptime, we came up with these four reasons to jump into the adventure:
Side Trips From Glacier National Park
If you have more time in the area, theres so much more to explore! My absolute favorite side trip is to Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada .
Explore the quaint town and take a boat tour into the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
For a break from hiking, explore Whitefish, Montana. There are enough shops and restaurants to keep you busy all day long!
Other national parks within road-trip distance include:
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Logan Pass Visitor Center
Located at the highest point along Going to the Sun Road , Logan Pass Visitor Center is a must-see stop during your Glacier National Park itinerary.
Due to its popularity, however, parking is extremely difficult to come by.
Be prepared to drive around for a while waiting for someone to leave.
I recommend slowly cruising the parking lot and following guests who appear to be leaving to try to snag their spot.
It is worth it. Just be patient.
When you do find a spot, stop into the visitor center, use the restrooms, and take in the panoramic views.
Next, head to the back of the visitor where youll find signs to begin the Hidden Lake Overlook trail or the more vigorous Highline Trail .
- Round trip length: 2.7 miles
- Time to hike: 2 hours
- Moderately difficult, exposed trail through alpine meadows, lots of wildlife sightings.
I highly recommend hiking Hidden Lake Overlook during your 3-day Glacier National Park itinerary.
Most visitors walk at least the beginning portion of the raised wooden boardwalk trail, but youre missing out by not hiking the 2.7 miles to Hidden Lake.
The path begins in a beautiful alpine meadow known as the Hanging Gardens and proceeds upward to an elevation where snow tends to linger around well into the summer.
Along with views of wildflowers and the gigantic Clements Mountain, youll likely meet marmots, mountain goats, Bighorn sheep, and mule deer .
Trust me, the views here will leave you speechless.
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Things To See In Glacier National Park
Organized Tours & Activities—Narrated boat tours from Lake McDonald, St. Mary, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier are offered daily from mid-June to mid-September by Glacier Park Boat Co. These “scenicruises” combine an hour-long lake cruise with a short hike or picnic. Spectacular views of Lake McDonald, the Grinnell Glacier, and the panoramic rugged cliffs ringing St. Mary Lake are just a few of the photo opportunities you may have. The boats typically depart every other hour, five times each day, although schedules are subject to change in late season or if the weather is inclement. For more information, contact Glacier Park Boat Co. at P.O. Box 5262, Kalispell, MT 59903 . Listed below are seasonal phone numbers for cruises at the following locations: Lake McDonald , Many Glacier , Two Medicine , and St. Mary .
Special Activities—Scenic helicopter tours of Glacier are offered by Glacier Heli Tours , Eagle Aviation , and Kruger Helicop-tours . Prices range from $60 to $90 for 1- to 2-hour tours, depending on your destination. All are located within 2 miles of West Glacier off U.S. 2.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
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Glacier Nationa Park Oct 9
I am an avid photographer and love national parks and fall foliage. My husband and I were thinking about visiting Glacier National Park from October 9 – 14 and hopefully catching fall foliage. We also thought about visiting Waterton National Park if time permits. However, I understand parts of the park starts closing in October. I checked with the park service and they told me Going to the Sun Road is scheduled to close October 1st from the West and from
the East it is scheduled to be open to Logan Pass until the 3rd Sunday in October unless weather shuts it down sooner. Is it worth it to try this visit at that time? I was thinking the west side and McDonald Lake would be a major attraction and it sounds like it will be closed.
Glacier National Park
Grey Whale Watch 4 Hours
Youll go along the Resurrection Bay route in search of a good view of the California Gray Whales, who have traveled more than 5,000 miles up from Baja California, and pass by the mouth of the Bay.
If you tend toward motion sickness, please take your usual precautions.
No minimum age required. If traveling with children age 2 – 11, choose one of the tours that visits Fox Island, to give your children an opportunity to get off the boat for an hour, skip some rocks and have a great meal. Infants and children 0 – 23 months cruise complimentary. All infants and children traveling are subject to taxes and fees.
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Seasonal Reservations At St Mary Lake Will Provide Access To Going To The Sun Road On The Day Of Your Reservation
The tour begins at the Rising Sun boat dock, centrally located on St. Mary Lake, approximately 5 miles from Glacier National Parks East Entrance at the town of St. Mary. Conveniently located off of Going-to-the-Sun Road, this tour offers magnificent views only available from the water. Aboard the Little Chief or Joy II you will cruise close to the famed Wild Goose Island while enjoying epic 360-degree views of the surrounding peaks.
When To Visit Glacier National Park
The park is open year-round though the Going-to-the-Sun Road remains closed until late June most years.. Since its closed from Lake McDonald Lodge to St. Mary, I suggest visiting Glacier no earlier than late June.
Tours, lodging and activities begin in June too. If avoiding crowds, consider visiting Glacier in September before the snow falls and the seasonal lodging closes.
Weather in Glacier National Park
Winter: Highs 30s F , Lows teens
Spring: Highs 50s F , Lows 30s
Summer: Highs 70s F , Lows 40s
FallHighs 40s F , Lows 20s
Precipitation average between one and three inches year-round. Snow can fall at anytime of the year. On average, temperatures are 10 to 15F degrees cooler at higher elevations.
What You Need To Know Before Visiting Glacier In 2022
In 2022, the National Park Service is requiring all visitors to make a reservation to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Ive written an entire guide on driving Going-to-the-Sun Road that covers:
- How the ticketed entry system works for 2022
- Exactly who needs a ticketed entry reservation
- How to book your reservation in detail
- Plus, the best stops along Going-to-the-Sun Road!
Are you visiting multiple national parks in the next year? The America the Beautiful National Park Pass gets you into 400+ national park sites, including all 63 national parks, for 12 months!
Best Time To Visit Glacier National Park
When it comes to planning a trip to Glacier National Park, youre at the mercy of the weather. The park is blanketed in snow from October to May, sometimes even as late as June. Parts of Going-to-the-Sun Road near Logan Pass are only open from mid-June to early October.
I recommend planning your trip to Glacier National Park between July and early September. But keep in mind, because the park has such a narrow tourism season, it will be crowded. The best way to beat the crowds at Glacier is to start your day early .
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Day : Fly Into Glacier International Airport
Depending on your group arrival time, arrange a reception and tour of Conrad Mansion in Kalispell. Kalispell is a bustling community with notable Old West charm. Visit the Conrad Mansion Museum to see what luxury living was like in the late 19th century. Open year-round, learn about the Conrad familys contributions to the region with a docent-led tour or on your own self-guided tour. View all 26 rooms, unchanged since 1895. Overnight in Kalispell, Montana.
IF YOU GO:
Homewood Suites by Hilton 406.755.8089
Glacier Park Boat Tours: An Experts Advice And Helpful Tips
Youre planning your big trip to Glacier National Park and youve heard about the historic boat tours available in the park. They all offer a uniquely beautiful perspective, which means it can be overwhelming to select a boat tour to add to your itinerary.
Luckily, as a seasonal park employee and former boat captain, I am here to help!
Glacier Park Boat Company is the only company authorized to offer boat tours in Glacier. Boat tour options include tours on St. Mary Lake at Rising Sun, Lake McDonald, Two Medicine Lake and Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes in Many Glacier. The cost ranges from approximately $20 to $40 for adults and $10 to $20 for children. Some of these even include guided hikes! These tours operate seasonally, from June-September. All of the tours are amazing, so it is impossible to make the wrong choice.
Each of these boat tour options is different, so keep reading for more details! In this article Ill cover:
- Lake McDonald Boat Tour
- St. Mary Lake Boat Tour
- Two Medicine Lake Boat Tour
- Many Glacier Boat Tour
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Taking You Back In Time
Spend the day on the waters of Glacier Bay and see magnificent tidewater glaciers, ancient snow-capped mountains, whales, stellar sea lions, rare birds such as puffins, coastal bears, seals, eagles, and so much more.
Aboard our comfortable, high-speed catamaran, youll travel through dramatically different ecosystems moving from the fully developed rainforest that surrounds Glacier Bay Lodge to the lichen-encrusted rocks that exist on the edges of the massive tidewater glaciers of the park.
Midway through the day, the catamaran arrives at the faces of the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers, two towering masses of ice and snow rising 245 feet above the ocean and stretching another 100 feet beneath the water. The ice that calves from the face of the two glaciers is an average of 200 years old so in a way, watching the ice break off of the glaciers is like watching the passage of time. This great Alaska vacation will leave you speechless.
This tour is the only scheduled day tour permitted inside Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. Advance Reservations Highly Recommended.
Federal And State Regulations
National Park Service boating regulations are found in Title 36, Part 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations and are available at park headquarters and staffed ranger stations. Its your responsibility to know and obey the US Coast Guard and State of Montana regulations for boat operation and safety. Rangers may board any boat for the purpose of examining documents, licenses, and other permits relating to the operation of the boat and to inspect the boat to determine compliance with regulations.
- All sailboats 12 feet in length and longer must be registered and numbered according to State of Montana regulations. Hand-propelled boats are exempt.
- One US Coast Guard-approved, wearable, personal floatation device , of the appropriate size for the intended user, readily accessible, and in good condition, must be carried on board.
- All children 12 years and under must wear a PFD when the vessel is underway.
- Navigation lights for motorboats and sailboats must be used between sunset and sunrise.
- Non-motorized boaters should have a light if out after dark.
Rules of the Waterways
- Keep to the right in channels and when approaching another boat head-on or nearly so.
- Yield right-of-way to vessels on your right in crossing situations and to vessels you overtake or pass.
- Boats propelled by oars, paddles, or sails have the right-of-way over boats propelled by motors.
Accidents and Reports
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Day By Day Glacier National Park Itinerary 3 Days
Are you ready to discover the best things to do in Glacier National Park in 3 days? This guide breaks your trip down into 3 packed days. Youll see the highlights of the park, including Going-to-the-Sun Road, Many Glacier, and the Highline Trail.
Since youll only be here for a few days, I highly recommend arriving in Kalispell in the morning. This will give you plenty of time to explore and settle in before sunset on your first day.
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How Many Days Should I Spend At Glacier National Park
You could spend weeks in Glacier National Park, but lets be real none of us have that kind of time! So lets get to the point how many days do you really need in Glacier National Park?The answer depends on what youre interested in doing:
- If you only want to drive through the park and see Going-to-the-Sun Road, you only need 1 day.
- If you want to see the highlights and the most popular hikes, you need at least 3 days
- If you want to hike Glaciers more strenuous, super scenic trails, you need at least 5 days.
- If you want the ultimate first-timer experience, you need at least one full week in Glacier National Park.
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St Mary And Logan Pass
Logan Pass has the steepest, and most stunning, parts of the parks famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. In fact, the Logan Pass Visitor Center sits at the highest point of Going-to-the-Sun Road.
St. Mary and Logan Pass area is home to many of Glaciers must-do hikes, like the Highline Trail, St. Mary Falls, and Hidden Lake Overlook.
Tranquil Views Of Glacier National Parks West Side Await You On This Scenic Hour Long Boat Tour
The majesty of the Continental Divide and the tranquility of the emerald-hued lake are a must-see as you cruise along Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the park . Climb aboard the historic vessel, DeSmet, the flagship vessel in our wooden boat fleet from the shore below the Lake McDonald Lodge.
Glacier Park Boat Company will be following current CDC Guidelines and Federal Transportation Guidelines. Masks are required at all times for ages 2 years old & up while interacting with our staff, including aboard tour boats, acquiring rentals and while at the ticket office. Masks will not be provided, please plan to bring your own mask with you. Passengers will not be permitted on tour boats or at the ticket office without a face covering.
Reservations with Glacier Park Boat Company at either Lake McDonald or St. Mary Lake at Rising Sun will guarantee entry to the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor on the day of your scheduled tour. While a reservation for entry will not be required, current Park entry fees still apply. Please be prepared to show your confirmation letter at the Park entry gate.
If you have a boat tour reservation at either Many Glacier or Two Medicine and would like to travel the Going-to-the-Sun corridor, a ticketed entry reservation will be required. For more information on the ticketed entry system at Glacier National Park, please visit their website at
|Children under 4||FREE|
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How To Plan Your Time
Ideally, plan on spending a minimum of two days at Glacier National Park. Even more time is better and you could easily spend a week here and never run out of things to do.
With one day, drive Going-to-the-Sun Road and visit the sights along the drive: Logan Pass, Hidden Lake, Lake McDonald, the Trail of Cedars, Avalanche Lake, and Saint Mary Lake. If you are a big hiker, get to Logan Pass by 7:30 am and hike the Highline Trail.
With two days, follow our one-day recommendation. Spend day two in Many Glacier and hike one of the trails.
With three or more days, add more time to Many Glacier, visit Two Medicine, or visit Waterton Lakes National Park.
to read our post about sample itineraries for Glacier National Park.
The Tour Starts At The Boat Dock In Front Of The Many Glacier Hotel
This dock that’s located right in front of the Many Glacier Hotel is where your tour begins.
Your Many Glacier Boat Tour will begin with the historic wooden boat at the Many Glacier Hotel named “Chief Two Guns”, and this Glacier National Park icon will take you across Swiftcurrent Lake. When the boat reaches the far end of the lake, you will leave the boat and walk a pleasant 400 yards to the second wooden boat, named “Morning Eagle” . This boat will take you across Lake Josephine.
You can then choose to stay on the boat and return to the Many Glacier Hotel, or you can leave the boat at the upper boat dock on Lake Josephine and enjoy the beautiful hiking trails that start here.
Once you are finished hiking for the day, you can catch another boat back to the Hotel.
The Many Glacier Boat Tour is extremely entertaining as well. The captain of the wooden boats will discuss points of interest along the way, and he/she is usually quite funny as well as very interesting. The actual tour lasts about an hour and a half.
This is a view from Swiftcurrent Lake of Grinnell Point and Mount Gould in the Many Glacier Area of Glacier National Park.
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