One Day Glacier National Park Itinerary

Glacier National Park in Montana is our favorite National Park in the US and we have been to almost all of the National Parks. It is magical, it will take your breath away, you won’t want to leave! In this post we share our 1 day Glacier National Park Itinerary recommendations so you can have an amazing trip.

Glacier National Park Itinerary

There are so many awesome things to do in Glacier National Park we want to help you figure out what not to miss and how to see the most you can see in the time you have! From the Going To The Sun Road to Polebridge Mercantile and Bowman Lake to Many Glacier and all the best hikes in Glacier!

If you love National parks be sure to check out our National Park Road Trip ideas too!

When To Visit

Views of Hidden Lake in Glacier

We highly recommend visiting Glacier National Park when the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open. This varies each year based on the weather—and there is no set date when it opens—but it is normally open starting in July through sometime in September. But always check their site for the most up to date information. You can visit the park when it is closed but you definitely miss some of the best parts!

Entry Tickets

For 2024 you will need to have entry tickets for park. Dates and times are below:

  • Going To The Sun Road – May 24th – September 8th from 6am to 3pm.
  • North Fork (Bowman Lake) – May 24th – September 8th from 6am to 3pm.
  • Many Glacier – July 1st – September 8th from 6am to 3pm.

During these dates you will need:

  • Secure your vehicle reservation
  • Get your park pass or pay the entrance fee
  • Have your reservation ready to scan.

**Note: Visitors with lodging, camping, or commerical activity reservations (ex. boat tours and horseback rides) can use their service reservation to access the portion of the park for which they have a reservation.

Try to get these tickets for your trip (click here). However if you can’t you do have another option to go out after 3pm. It is light until 9/10pm at night so you still have a lot of time to get out and do some exploring!

But ALWAYS double check their site to make sure nothing has changed. You can do that here.

How To Get To Glacier National Park

Flying into Glacier Park International Airport FCA is an option. They have a variety of daily flights (some just in season) that can work. The airport is 12 miles from Whitefish and 30 miles from the West Glacier entrance.

Click here to start to plan your Glacier Park International Airport FCA trip.

You could also take the Amtrak into Glacier. We don’t recommend this unless you are looking for a guided tour.

You can drive to Glacier. A road trip is almost always a fun time! But note if you do this you will most likely have to add on an extra day and night for travel.

Do You Need A Car For Glacier?

The short answer and our recommendation is yes. The park spreads across multiple areas and you won’t be able to see all the places we recommend without a car. There is a shuttle service in the park and tours. But a car will give you more flexibility and allow you to visit Many Glacier, Polebridge and Two Medicine.

If you are just coming in for a day you could do without – if you are good with shuttles and tours.

Driving In The Park

Don’t believe Google Map drive times. The roads are windy on the Going-to-the-Sun Road so it takes longer. And the roads to Many Glacier, Polebridge and Two Medicine are bumpy with lots of pot holes and free roam cattle.

To drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the west entrance to the east entrance can take
approximately 2 hours without stopping (which you will most likely want to stop for pictures.) Plus there are can be animal sighting traffic jams – that can make it take even longer.

Glacier National Park Hiking

Highline Trail - Glacier National Park Itinerary
Highline Trail

To truly explore this magnificent park you are going to want to get out and hike. If you aren’t all about hiking for miles that is OK. There are options that will work for almost anyone. But do yourself a favor and plan on doing some hiking when you visit.

Take note: Trails can be closed due to bear activity so always check with a ranger before you head out on a hike. If a trail is closed it will normally have a sign by the trail head that says closed. But we always like to confirm at the visitor center just to be sure!

Make sure to have your Bear Spray with you. We recommend buying it before you come. Or if you are flying ask at your hotel/campground to see where you can buy it in the area. The National Park normally sells it – but sometimes they run out so better to have a few options.

Related: The Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park Map

Here is a visual overview of Glacier National Park. You won’t hit all of this in one day but will hit the big highlights.

Glacier National Park Map

I Want The Glacier National Park Itinerary


We fell in love with this National Park the moment we drove through the gates. The mountains, the water color, the wildlife. Nothing else compares in the US. It’s Glacier National Park in Montana and here is our list of things to do there: 🔹Drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road 🔹Visit Many Glacier 🔹Hike to Apikuni Falls 🔹Hike or take a boat to Grinnell Glacier 🔹Visit Polebridge Mercantile and Lake Bowman 🔹Visit Whitefish 🔹Go On A Rafting Trip 🔹Play at the Whitefish Mountain Resort 🔹Hike the Avalanche Lake Trail 🔹Visit Logans Pass 🔹Hike to Hidden Lake Overlook 🔹Hike the Highline Trail 🔹Look for wildlife (bear, moose, mountain goats and bighorn sheep) ➡️Comment GLACIER to get our FREE Glacier Packing List and our Full Post with all the details on Visiting Glacier National Park including where to stay, where to eat plus a bonus day trip idea! FOLLOW FOR MORE TRAVEL, FAMILY LIFE AND RVING TIPS @crazyfamilyadventure #glacier #glaciernationalpark #familytravel #visitglacier #visitmontana #nationalparks

♬ Kiss – Prince & Prince and The Revolution

If you want this 1 day (or 3 and 7 day) itineraries in an easy to download version that you get immediate access to check out our Glacier National Park Itineraries here:

Glacier 1 Day Guide Thumbnail
Glacier 3 Day Guide Thumbnail
Glacier 7 Day Guide Thumbnail

Planning a trip to Glacier? We put together a series of digital guides that take the guesswork out of planning. Stop-by-stop itineraries for making the most of 1, 3 or 7 days in Glacier National Park including where to stay, where to eat, what hikes to take and the best driving routes.

We’ve even included links for you to book your stays and buy your park passes. Everything you need in one convenient digital guide. Just download and go!

1 Day Glacier National Park Itinerary

The 1 day itinerary will take you from the West Entrance to the East Entrance on The Going To The Sun Road. This means the road has to be open in order to do complete this itinerary. It really is the top thing in Glacier so try to plan your trip around when it will be open!

If you are going when it is closed – you will have to take out the Going-To-The-Sun road parts plus Logan Pass visitor center and the things to do around there.

Breakfast: Grab something quick at your place or stop at a grocery store the night before to get breakfast and some additional snacks and water to bring with you for the day. I would also recommend packing a lunch and having that with you so you don’t have to waste time during your day going to a restaurant or paying National Park prices for food.

1st Half Of The Day

Avalanche Lake hike

Start: West Glacier – West Entrance. (be sure to have your entrance ticket and be prepared to pay to enter Glacier – unless you have a National Park pass).

Stop 1: Agpar Visitor Center – stop here to check in with the rangers, get a map (if you didn’t when you drove in) and to take a look around.

Stop 2: Lake McDonald Lodge – stop to check out the lodge that was built in 1913 and to take in the views of the lake. They have a general store and some food if you want to grab anything while you are here.

Stop 3: Trail of the Cedars Hike – This is a great hike and almost anyone can do it since it is a boardwalk trail and is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.

  • Distance: 1 mile loop trail

Related post: Trail Of The Cedars Hike In Glacier National Park

Stop 3 Extra: Avalanche Lake – if you are feeling up for a more challenging hike you can continue off of the Trail of the Cedars hike and up to Avalanche Lake. The effort is well worth it for the view of the mountain lake at the end. But be prepared!

  • Distance: 4.5 miles round trip (there and back trail)
  • Elevation Gain: 730 feet (you are pretty much gradually climbing up the mountain the whole time).

Related post: Hiking Avalanche Lake In Glacier National Park

Time for lunch – I would recommend doing a picnic lunch right at your car. Or if you didn’t want to pack a lunch you can go back to the Lake McDonald lodge are to get Pizza at Jammer Joe’s Grill and Pizzeria.

2nd Half Of The Day

Going to the sun road on the Glacier National Park Itinerary
Going To The Sun Road

Stop 4: Drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road – be prepared for this to take longer than you think it will. You are going to want to stop at every pullout to take a picture. That isn’t quite necessary. But hey this is your trip so if you want to go for it!

Related: Tips For Driving The Stunning Going To The Sun Road

Stop 5: Logan Pass Visitor Center with the Hidden Lake Overlook hike – Stop at the visitor center (be prepared for traffic and having to drive around waiting for someone to leave to get a parking spot). In the visitor center they usually have a few displays up and Rangers there to answer questions.

There is also a gift shop. If you have the energy and time head out on the Hidden Lake Overlook hike. It is worth it so if you can swing it go for it!

  • Distance: 2.7 miles round trip (there and back)
  • Elevation gain: 1325 feet – there are a lot of steps

Stop 6: Jackson Glacier – you will continue on the Going-To-The-Sun road for about 5 miles until you reach the pullout for Jackson Glacier – be sure to put this into Google Maps and download your map before you go so you don’t miss it! Or follow the park map.

Stop 7: St Mary Falls Hike – This is a pretty short hike, just 1.6 miles there and back, and the falls are beautiful. I would skip this if you are done hiking or can’t imagine planning this many hikes in a day.

  • Distance: 1.6 miles round trip (there and back)
  • Elevation gain: minimal

Stop 8 – Wild Goose Island Overlook – After St Mary Falls, if you continue about 6 more miles, you will come to the Wild Goose Island Overlook at St Mary Lake. To me, this is the iconic Glacier National Park view.

Dinner: St Mary Village – there is a grill, bar and cafe in St Mary Village.

Where To Stay

At this point, you can either turn around and drive back through the Going-To-The-Sun road, or you can take the longer, flatter route around the outside of the park back to the west entrance. Or you can plan to book a room to stay the night at the St Mary Lodge & Resort.

*We have driven the Going-To-The-Sun road at night. It is a bit scary, and you have to be aware of wildlife. We came across a mama bear and her cubs on the road when it was pitch black outside! It will be slow driving, and with it being dark, you can’t see much. It’s totally your call on what way you want to drive back.

Purchase this guide in an easy to download version with maps, more details and links on where to stay here:

Glacier 1 Day Guide Thumbnail

More Posts On Glacier National Park

7 Awe Inspiring Things To Do In Many Glacier

Visit the Magnificent Bowman Lake and Polebridge Mercantile

The Best Glacier National Park Itinerary From 1 to 7 Days

Pin This Post:

One day Glacier National Park itinerary to help you plan the ultimate Glacier vacation! Glacier is a top travel bucket list location.

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.