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One of America’s most spectacular ecosystems, Glacier National Park encompasses nearly 1,600 square miles of snowcapped mountains, emerald-hued lakes, forests, and rivers. Discover the park’s glacially-carved landscapes on a variety of excursions, and stay in historic park lodges. Then head north into the Canadian Rockies to spend a day exploring Waterton Lakes National Park, and cap off your journey with a rafting trip on the Flathead River.
Join a naturalist and search for bears, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats in Glacier National Park.
Ascend the Going-to-the-Sun Road and go rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.
Discuss Glacier’s changing landscapes with an ecologist from the U.S. Geological Survey who was featured in National Geographic magazine.
Cross over the border to spend a day amid the stunning mountains of Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park.
Itinerary - 7 Days
Day 1 — Kalispell, Montana/Whitefish
Arrive in Kalispell and transfer to the town of Whitefish, located in the heart of the northern Rocky Mountains. Grouse Mountain Lodge
Day 2 — Big Mountain/Lake McDonald
Designated a national park in 1910, Glacier National Park was named for the ice masses that carved these valleys roughly 20,000 years ago. This primordial wilderness boasts some of the most stunning scenery in North America: snowcapped peaks and high alpine meadows, emerald-hued glacial lakes and rushing rivers, and numerous species of mammals and birds. Today begins at Big Mountain-as locals call Whitefish Mountain Resort-for a ride to the scenic summit. From the top, set off on a hike overlooking Flathead Valley, Whitefish Lake and Glacier National Park. In the afternoon, we begin our exploration of Glacier on the west side of the park on a guided hike. On the way learning about the park’s wildlife and natural history. transfer to the historic Lake McDonald Lodge, built in 1913 along the shores of the park’s largest lake. Lake McDonald Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Lake McDonald Valley/Flathead River
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 beautiful, mirror-like lake that reflects the mountain peaks above. This afternoon, take to the waters of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River which forms the southern border of Glacier National Park. Enjoy a scenic float trip through steep-walled canyons, keeping an eye out for birds, elk and other wildlife. This evening 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 discussion of the park’s ecosystem and the impact of climate change on the future of Glacier. Lake McDonald Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Going-to-the-Sun Road/ Many Glacier Valley
Today we are joined by local guides for 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 awe-inspiring vistas of waterfall-laced mountains and valleys, and look for mountain goats and bighorn sheep foraging on the slopes. As we make our way to the east side of the Park, we'll stop for various hikes and a picnic lunch. Arrive in Many Glacier Valley, home to abundant wildlife and 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 expansive lakefront deck. Many Glacier Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Many Glacier Valley
Watch the rugged, picturesque mountains of Glacier light up with the rising sun as the morning begins before setting out on a full day exploring the Many Glacier area. Today begins with a scenic cruise across Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes aboard a classic wooden boat. Then set out to experience the spectacular scenery of Many Glacier Valley, choosing from a variety of shorter or longer hikes. Trace the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, spotting birds and wildflowers. Or embark on a more vigorous hike on the Grinnell Glacier Trail, ascending through a series of switchbacks to be rewarded with incredible views of , alpine lakes, soaring mountains and one of the Parks's remaining glaciers. Keep an eye out for the numerous wildlife species that reside in the valley, including bald eagles, moose, and bears. Return to the hotel this evening to enjoy sunset over the lake and dinner. Many Glacier Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Many Glacier Valley/Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada
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. In the late 1800's, conservationists dubbed this region the "Crown of the Continent" with Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks representing the crown's shining jewels. Today, we head north into Alberta, Canada to explore Waterton Lakes National Park and its remarkable ecosystem of prairies, forests, and glacial landscapes. Take a boat ride on Upper Waterton Lake, whose emerald waters stretch southward into Montana. As we cruise beneath the soaring Rockies, view striking geological formations and waterfalls and watch for osprey, mountain goats, and bears along the shores. After lunch, visit the Prince of Wales Hotel, one of the grand hotels built by Louis W. Hill of the Great Northern Railway. Constructed in the 1920s in classic Swiss-chalet style, the hotel sits on a bluff overlooking Upper & Middle Waterton Lakes.We'll take a tour of the hotel and its grounds, soaking up the majestic scenery before returning to Glacier National Park this afternoon. Many Glacier Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Kalispell
Linger over breakfast this morning enjoying our last views of the mountain peaks beyond Swiftcurrent Lake before saying goodbye to Glacier and returning to Kalispell for afternoon flights home. (B)
Award-winning Earth science educator, avid outdoorsman, and national parks aficionado Steve Kluge has taught New York Regents and college-level geology courses for more than 35 years. He’s planned and led day, week, and month-long field trips and expeditions that include geology and natural history, cave exploration, and backpacking. He has led a pre-college expeditionary science program on the Juneau Icefield in Alaska and taught geology on the flanks of Hawaiian volcanoes in a semester-long Cornell University field program. Steve has designed fun and rewarding standards-based instructional activities for kids and teens in partnership with National Geographic, the Geological Society of America, NASA, and New York public television. He has also built his own kayaks, one of which he's paddled along most of the coast of Maine. Kirk Johnson of the NY Times described him as a man of "rumbling enthusiasm,” and Steve brings that enthusiasm with him wherever he goes. He looks forward to sharing the wonders of Glacier National Park with National Geographic travelers.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.