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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.
Hike through the valleys and meadows of Glacier National Park, searching for bears, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats.
Enjoy a thrilling drive on the Going-to-the-Sun Road aboard one of the park’s historic red buses.
Discuss Glacier’s changing landscapes with an ecologist from the U.S. Geological Survey featured in a National Geographic magazine article.
Spend a day exploring the alpine lakes and magnificent mountain scenery of Watertown 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. Settle into our hotel on the edge of Whitefish Lake, and take in panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. 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. 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. 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. Go for a 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 beautiful, mirror-like lake that reflects the mountain peaks above. This afternoon, transfer to the historic Lake McDonald Lodge, built in 1913 along the shores of 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 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
This morning, enjoy a unique excursion aboard one of the park’s iconic red 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 awe-inspiring vistas 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 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
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 glaciers, alpine lakes, and mountains. Keep an eye out for the numerous wildlife species that reside in the valley, including bald eagles, moose, and bears. 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. 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. 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. Have lunch and take a tour of the hotel and its grounds, soaking up the majestic scenery. Return to Glacier National Park this afternoon. Many Glacier Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Flathead River/Kalispell
This morning, 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. Cap off our adventure with a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport in Kalispell and connect with your flight home. (B, L)
With a master's degree in wildlife biology, Doug Chadwick studied mountain goats among the peaks of the Rockies for seven years. He also carried out surveys of grizzly bears and of the harlequin ducks that breed along the Rockies' fast-moving rivers and streams. In his other role as a journalist, Doug has reported on wildlife around the world, from right whales in the subantarctic to snow leopards in the Himalayas, producing close to 50 articles for National Geographic magazine. Over the past nine years, much of his free time has been spent as a volunteer helping carry out groundbreaking wolverine research in Glacier National Park. In addition to hundreds of magazine articles, he has written thirteen books about wildlife and conservation, including several focused on the Rocky Mountains. He also contributed the lead chapter in a 2014 book entitled Crown of the Continent: The Wildest Rockies, a photographic celebration of the region's wildlife and scenic majesty.