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Introduce your family to the wonders of Glacier National Park, an incredible wilderness of snowcapped mountains, emerald-hued lakes, wild rivers, and forests. Experience the park’s glacially-carved landscapes on a variety of excursions designed for all ages, and stay in historic lodges steeped in the spirit of the American West. Head north into the Canadian Rockies and spend a day exploring Waterton Lakes National Park. Then take to the waters of the Flathead River on a rafting adventure the whole family will love.
Hike through the valleys and meadows of Glacier National Park, searching for bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and eagles.
Ascend the Going-to-the-Sun Road aboard one of the park’s historic red buses, and walk along the Continental Divide at Logan Pass.
Delve into Glacier’s natural history with an ecologist from the United States Geological Survey who was featured in National Geographic magazine.
Go horseback riding in Watertown Lakes National Park and set off on a rafting adventure on the Flathead River.
Itinerary - 7 Days
Day 1 — Kalispell, Montana/Whitefish
Welcome to Montana! Arrive in Kalispell and transfer to the town of Whitefish, located in the heart of the northern Rocky Mountains. Settle into our hotel on the edge of Whitefish Lake, and take the evening to rest up before our adventure begins.
The Lodge at Whitefish Lake
Day 2 — Glacier National Park/West Glacier
Designated a national park in 1910, Glacier National Park was named for the ice masses that carved these valleys roughly 20,000 years ago. Begin our exploration on the west side of the park at the Glacier Institute, which offers informative field seminars about Glacier National Park and the surrounding area. Kids will visit the institute’s Big Creek Outdoor Education Center, located in a forest service ranger station. After an interactive introduction to freshwater ecology, they’ll get outfitted in hip waders and venture to a nearby stream to identify the creatures that inhabit it. Meanwhile, adults go for a scenic hike with a guide from the institute, learning about the park’s wildlife and natural history.
The Lodge at Whitefish Lake (B, L, D)
Day 3 — Lake McDonald Valley
Spend the morning exploring Lake McDonald Valley. Hike the Trail of the Cedars to Avalanche Lake, passing through hemlock and cedar forests to arrive on the shores of a mirror-like lake. This afternoon, transfer to the historic Lake McDonald Lodge, built in 1913 along the park’s largest lake. Here, we meet with Dr. Dan Fagre, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center. Dan has been studying climate change in Glacier National Park for more than 20 years and was featured in the June 2007 National Geographic magazine article “The Big Thaw.” Join Dan for a lively talk about the park’s natural history and the impact of climate change on its future.
Lake McDonald Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 4 — Going-to-the-Sun Road/Many Glacier Valley
Take your seat aboard one of the park’s iconic Red Jammer buses. First introduced to the park in the 1930s, these vintage vehicles feature roll-back tops for unobstructed sightseeing. Set off on an unforgettable journey along the Going-to-the-Sun Road—a 50-mile feat of engineering which crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Take in views of waterfall-laced mountains and valleys, and look for mountain goats and bighorn sheep foraging on the slopes. Arrive in Many Glacier Valley, home to some of the park’s last visible glaciers. Have a picnic lunch before continuing to Many Glacier Hotel, a national historic monument situated on Swiftcurrent Lake. Settle into your room and enjoy some free time to explore the lodge’s rustic architecture or relax on its lakefront deck.
Many Glacier Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 5 — Many Glacier Valley
Cruise across Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes aboard a classic wooden boat. Then set out to experience the pristine wilderness of Many Glacier Valley. Kids will join our Expedition Leader to hunt for wildflowers, birds, and animal tracks along the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake. Adults may choose from a variety of shorter or longer hikes. While we explore, keep an eye out for the wildlife species that reside in the valley, including bald eagles, moose, and bear.
Many Glacier Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 6 — Waterton Lakes National Park
In 1932, Glacier National Park was combined with Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada to form the world's first International Peace Park—later designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, we head north into Alberta, Canada to explore Waterton Lakes National Park and its remarkable ecosystem of prairies, forests, and glacial landscapes. At a family-run horse ranch, kids saddle up for a horseback ride through the park. Meanwhile, adults enjoy a boat ride on Upper Waterton Lake, whose emerald waters stretch southward into Montana. Then meet up at the Prince of Wales Hotel, built in the 1920s by Great Northern Railway executive Louis W. Hill. Return to Glacier National Park this afternoon.
Many Glacier Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Flathead River/Kalispell
Cap off our adventure with a rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, which forms the southern border of Glacier National Park. Float through steep-walled canyons, keeping an eye out for birds, elk, and other wildlife. Enjoy a final picnic lunch with our new friends. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport in Kalispell and connect with your flight home.
Drew Rush has a long history of working in and teaching about America's national parks. Before embarking on a career in photography, Drew spent ten years guiding on the Snake River and taking people into the heart of Yellowstone National Park in the winter. Since he transitioned into a professional photographer, his work has appeared in numerous international publications and books such as National Parks magazine and National Geographic: Complete Photography. His photographs have also been displayed at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. Drew has recently spent years working in the Northern Rockies on several long term photographic projects for National Geographic magazine. He looks forward to sharing his insights into the wildlife, ecosystems, and magnificent landscapes of Glacier National Park.