Itinerary: 3 Days in Glacier National Park

Despite this being a poorly planned trip, we did well. We spent seven gorgeous days in Montana the second week of July. We were in the silver and gold state for a wedding.

The wedding would be in Great Falls, which is in central Montana. We knew we wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park, which is four hours south, or Glacier National Park, which is four hours north. We only had three days to spare, so we decided on Glacier after talking to friends and reading about the recent Bison goring in Yellowstone.

Staying in Hungry Horse, Montana

Finding a hotel was not an option as they did not exist near West Glacier. After calling around, we lucked out with the Mini Golden Inn in Hungry Horse, Montana—only 10 minutes outside the park entrance. The place was clean and had free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, coffee, and excellent room service.

Be sure to pencil in some time to visit the local shops! Our favorite was the Montana Fur Trading Company, which was filled with unique, authentic Indian treasures.

Parking & Ticket Information

You’ll first need to purchase a $2.00 ticket online to access anything along Going to the Sun Road, which is basically where all the fun is. Tickets are released at 8 AM two days prior, and 300 are usually sold very quickly. If you don’t have this $2.00 ticket, you can only access Going to the Sun Road before 6 AM and after 5 PM.

You’ll also need to purchase a 7-day vehicle pass for $35. Click here for site pass options.

Day 1: Hiking Avalanche Trail

We chose Avalanche Lake on the recommendation of a local shop owner when we bought bear mace. He suggested a local hiking guide, which included in-depth information on each trail. Avalanche Trail was 4.6 miles, an elevation gain of 575 feet, and was rated challenging. And to be honest, it was tough but well worth the stunningly beautiful nature.

Day 2: Kayaking Lake McDonald

We decided to go kayaking, but many other water-related activities are available. You can rent paddleboards, canoes, rowboats, and motorboats. Kayaking Lake McDonald was an excellent experience. Glacier water is so beautiful and clear! We even found a small private beach and had a picnic.

PRO TIP: If you have trouble getting in the park because you forgot your $2.00 Going to the Sun Road ticket, call Apgar Rentals. They’ll set up your kayak rental ($15.50/hour) and get you in the park. Glacier Outfitters is another option right inside the West entrance to the park. They also offer whitewater rafting.

Hiking St. Mary’s to Virginia Falls

St. Mary - Glacier National Park

Using the same local hiking guide, we decided to hike Virginia Falls to see a few waterfalls. You have to hike St. Mary’s trail to get to Virginia Falls. I highly recommend St. Mary’s Trail for its unique scenery. In 2015, the park’s east side, in the St. Mary’s area, was destroyed by a massive fire. The area is still in bad shape today, but the bare, charred trees create stunningly beautiful views.

Day 3: Going to the Sun Road

Glacier National Park Montana

Going to the Sun road is about 50 miles and will take around 2 hours to drive without traffic. The highest point is 6,646 feet! While two hours seems like a long time, the beautiful scenery is so distracting time will fly by. Remember, you need that $2.00 ticket in advance to get on this road and into the main park. Otherwise, they will not let you in between 6 AM and 5 PM.


Alexandrea Sumuel is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.