Glacier for Families

Original open uri20160815 3469 37nwk?1471304571?ixlib=rails 0.3
Glacier for Families
Many of the hikes in Glacier are difficult and rugged, but there are plenty of easier hikes for families. There are also lots of ranger-led programs and activities for kids.
Photo by Susie Wellendorf
  • 1 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 37nwk?1471304571?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Easy Hikes for Families
    Easy hikes are a great way for families to experience the outdoors without tiring out the kids. A popular hike to the St. Mary Falls begins off Going-to-the-Sun Road; hikers can choose to make a 1.5-mile loop or to continue on to Virginia Falls—on the way, you'll pass two more spectacular waterfalls, and the roundtrip hike clocks in at about 3.5 miles. Also try the Johns Lake Loop, which is just under two miles roundtrip and takes you through forest and past McDonald Falls. The trailhead is 1.3 miles east of the McDonald Lodge on Going-to-the-Sun Road, but be warned that parking is limited.
    Photo by Susie Wellendorf
  • 2 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 folxhh?1471304575?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Nature Trails through the Park
    The Trail of the Cedars is a great hike for kids and has informational signs about the wildlife and foliage in the area. Kids can race from sign to sign or play "I spy" games. Other great hikes include the Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail, which connects with the trailhead to Grinnell Glacier, a more challenging hike; the Forest and Fire Nature Trail, located near the Camas Creek entrance; and the Rocky Point Nature Trail on the western shore of Lake McDonald, which begins near the Fish Creek Campground and is accessible off Going-to-the-Sun Road.
    Photo by Jenn Rowell
  • 3 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1v0nb8x?1471304580?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Ranger Programs for Children
    For outdoor education opportunities with experts, look no further than Glacier's rangers. Ranger-led activities are printed in the Glacier Explorer, an information booklet of annual summer programs to help kids learn and have fun while visiting the park. Glacier Junior Badges are awarded to children who visit the park and attend a ranger-led program; they have to correctly complete at least five of the activities in the Junior Ranger booklet, which is available from park visitor centers at Apgar, Logan Pass, and St. Mary. Rangers will check answers and present the kids with their badges.
    Photo courtesy of David Restivo/Glacier NPS
  • 4 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 25xv9m?1471304585?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Going-to-the-Sun Road by Bus
    Historic bus tours offer a chance to take in the spectacular views of Glacier National Park without having to worry about the driving (not to mention that public transportation lowers the amount of traffic and pollution in the park). Glacier's vintage 1930s red buses have roll-back tops and carry experienced guides who share the park’s history, natural wonders, and glorious scenery. Tours start on both the east and west sides of the park and range in duration and price—think around $30 to $85 for adults and $20 to $40 for children. Most tours run from late-June to September, but one tour runs from late-May to mid-June.
    Photo courtesy of David Restivo/Glacier NPS
  • 5 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1nlpm29?1471304589?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Water Activities in the Park
    The water in Glacier National Park might look inviting, but remember that the lake is fed by glaciers; the water temperature never rises above 40 degrees. On especially hot days, cool off with a quick dip after kayaking or waterskiing (permitted from from sunrise to sunset) on Lake McDonald or St. Mary Lake. Glacier Park Boat offers narrated boat tours of the park. The company recommends advanced reservations, but also offers walk-up tickets at all locations. Reservations must be made at least one day in advance for the Two Medicine tour and at least three days in advance for Many Glacier tour, but same-day reservations are accepted for Lake McDonald and Rising Sun on St. Mary Lake.
    Photo courtesy of David Restivo/Glacier NPS
  • 6 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 8wum7t?1471304594?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Glacier by Horseback
    Guided horseback rides are available through Swan Mountain Outfitters at Many Glacier, Lake McDonald, and Apgar; they also offer drop-camp services—packing gear into backcountry campgrounds using pack animals. On horseback and without having to carry your own supplies, more of the park is visible and accessible; you can experience the park more like American Indians and early explorers and ranchers did. Visitors can also use their own horses, mules, donkeys, and llamas in most areas of the park, but be mindful of the signage around trails and check at the visitor center or ranger station for temporary closures. These animals are not permitted on paved roads at any time.
    Photo by Dennis MacDonald/age fotostock
  • 7 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 fjfjy8?1471304598?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Become a Scout Ranger
    Several programs designed to instill an appreciation for conservation and natural resources are available for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts at Glacier National Park, including the opportunity to become a Scout Ranger. To earn a certificate, scouts must participate for five hours in an educational program or volunteer service project; afterwards, they can download the certificate from the park website on the honor system. To earn a patch, scouts need to participate in educational programs or a volunteer service project for 10 hours. They’ll be awarded a patch when they verbally report their program completion to a National Park Service employee at a visitor or information center in the park.
    Photo by Doug Marshall/age fotostock
  • 8 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 5ddgpf?1471304602?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Where to Eat in Glacier
    Food options in Glacier National Park range from quick snacks to fine dining, with one important element in common—most fare is made with local produce and meat. Check out a few classic spots, including the Lake McDonald Lodge, home to Russell’s Fireside Dining Room, which is known for its wild game; Lucke’s Lounge, offering local microbrews and an extensive bar menu; and Jammer Joe’s, serving pizza, salad, and sandwiches in a retro atmosphere. For a variety of food options under one roof, visit the Many Glacier Hotel, which is home to the Ptarmigan Dining Room, Swiss Lounge, Interlaken Lounge, Heidi’s Snack Shop, and Grizzly Track Traders Gift Shop.
    Photo courtesy of David Restivo/Glacier NPS
  • 9 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 wg2r12?1471304607?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Glacier's American Indian History
    Glacier National Park staff works to preserve not only the natural wonder of the park, but also American Indian culture—which has a long history in the area. A visit to the park can also afford you the opportunity to learn about Native American culture from members of local tribes. Each summer, Glacier hosts the Native America Speaks program so that Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille peoples may come together to share their knowledge of tribal history and culture. Programs include live music, traditional dancers, storytelling, and discussions on American Indian contributions to American culture. Check visitor centers for the program schedule.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 10 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 smlxyp?1471304612?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Discovery Cabin
    What is today known as the Discovery Cabin in Glacier National Park was built in 1929 as part of the Greenwalt Hotel Complex. The Discovery Cabin opens for the summer near the Apgar Visitor Center and is staffed by rangers who can help children sort rocks, horns, and antlers, stamp animals into their proper habitats, create puppet shows, and much more. In the cabin, curious kids can talk to rangers, learn the Ballad of the Discovery Cabin, or touch natural items from the park in the Mystery Box. They can learn about nature and wildlife in a controlled environment before setting out to explore the trails and put their new knowledge to work.
    Photo by Brian Drost Jr.