Photo Essay: Exploring Glacier National Park

This article may contain referral links. Read our DISCLOSURE

Waterfalls, scenic views, lakes, glaciers and hikes. Discover our favorites in this Glacier National Park photo essay. Glacier is one of the last remaining wild places in the United States. Let us show you why:


Waterfall at St. Marys Lake in Glacier National Park
A waterfall tumbles down the mountainside and into St. Mary Lake

Alan took this waterfall photograph while on a photo workshop with Marc Adamus. He can’t remember the exact location, but says that the journey involved climbing up a steep hillside like a mountain goat. An easier option is the approximate 2-mile-round-trip hike to St. Mary Falls off Going to the Sun Road. Add another 2 miles to your hike by continuing the one mile in and out to Virginia Falls. When the snow is melting, Glacier offers more than 200 waterfalls. Take your pick.


St. Mary Lake on the east side of Glacier.
St. Mary Lake on the east side of Glacier.

Lakes are everywhere in Glacier National Park. How many lakes? According to data from the National Park Service, you’ll find 762, although only 631 are named. Lake McDonald on the west side is the largest and also the location of historical Lake McDonald Lodge. Alan took this photo of St Mary Lake, the park’s second largest lake, on a moody, fall day.

Off the Beaten Path

Polebridge Mercantile
Polebridge Mercantile serves the North Fork area of Glacier.

Polebridge is a funky enclave on the west side of Glacier National Park. Boomers can also access Bowman and Kintla Lakes from here. Polebridge Mercantile provides services (and delicious baked goods) to campers, hikers and hardy souls who live in the area for the summer. Be sure to hang around for a meal at the Northern Lights Saloon. And if you’re visiting the park over the 4th of July, the most creative parade in the U.S. will be rolling down the gravel road to Polebridge.

Scenic Views

Logan's Pass
At Logan’s Pass on the trail to Hidden Lake overlook.

Turn in any direction and you’ll find natural beauty at Glacier. But my favorite spot for the view is at Logan Pass. At 6, 464 ft, it’s the summit of Going to the Sun Road. This photo is taken from the boardwalk path as it leads across the tundra for the short hike to an overlook of Hidden Lake. In the summer, you’ll be accompanied by blooming wildflowers and sightings of mountain goats. If it’s a heavy snow year, the snowplows could still be clearing snow until July from this portion of Going-to-the-Sun Road. You can monitor the snowplowing progress at the National Parks Flickr page. Personally, I enjoy watching this Going-to-the-Sun snowplowing video.

Glacier Hikes

Glacier National Park
Dramatic view at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park.

Twenty-five glaciers (from the same NPS data I referenced above) give this Montana national park its name. And, yes, they are shrinking. So you better lace up those hiking shoes quickly. The trail to Grinnell Glacier, 11-miles-round-trip, starts from Many Glacier Hotel and leads to the foot of the glacier. This is our favorite area in Glacier National Park.

Planning a trip to Glacier National Park? Check out our articles and advice. Click on Exploring Glacier National Park.

Scratch those itchy travel feet!

Boomer travelers rely on our weekly email newsletter for fresh travel inspiration, tips, and advice. It's free! No spam, unsubscribe anytime.