15 Bucket List Worthy Things to Do and See in Many Glacier
When you arrive in Many Glacier, you’ll be greeted by stunning views of towering mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and abundant wildlife. There are many hiking trails and outdoor activities to enjoy, such as boat tours, horseback riding, and camping.
With its natural beauty and endless opportunities for adventure, Many Glacier is truly a must-see destination for any outdoor enthusiast visiting Glacier National Park.
How Do You Get to Many Glacier in Glacier National Park?
Many Glacier is a beautiful and remote area located in the northeast region of Glacier National Park. It is not accessible from the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road.
When driving from the west via Going to the Sun Road, it takes about three hours, maybe less with no stops, to get to Many Glacier. At St. Mary, you’ll head north toward Babb along Hwy 89. You’ll see the sign telling you when to turn left to get to the Many Glacier entrance. The turn-off is right before the Cattle Baron Supper Club.
From the east, you’ll make your way from Hwy 2 to the same Hwy 89 (the two highways intersect in Browning) and onto Babb and the turn-off.
Is it worth the drive from West Glacier?
From West Glacier it will likely take several hours to get to Many Glacier via Going-to-the-Sun Road due to traffic and wanting to stop to take in the views. If there’s no traffic and no stops you can get there in a couple hours.
Last year when I drove from West Glacier to Many Glacier in the early evening, I thought it would be a quick drive since I wasn’t planning to stop and the traffic was much less than earlier in the day. Then I got to Logan Pass and it was snowing! In July! And there were mountain goats on the rocks! So naturally traffic slowed down and it took longer to get to Many Glacier. But it was worth the extra time to experience the unexpected magic of Glacier National Park.
Where is the Many Glacier Park Entrance?
From Babb, it’s still roughly a 15-minute drive to the park entrance — and we do mean rough! Most of the drive between Babb and the Many Glacier entrance and ranger station is along a dirt road, so follow the posted speed limits to keep dust down. You don’t need 4-wheel drive and small cars should be fine, but be aware it’s not paved.
Once you get through the entrance pay booth, it’s about another 10-15 minutes to the lodge and main parking lots.
Insider Tip: The meadows along the drive between Babb and Many Glacier are also prime spots for wildlife viewing. I saw a massive grizzly from this road a coupler summers ago, so keep your eyes peeled for animals!
What passes and vehicle registration do you need to visit Many Glacier?
To visit Many Glacier in Glacier National Park, you will need to have a valid park pass and, depending on the time you visit, a vehicle registration. The park pass is required for all visitors and can be purchased at the park entrance or online before your visit. There are several types of passes available, including a daily pass, an annual pass, and a senior pass.
The vehicle registration is required if you plan to drive through the Many Glacier entrance during peak times. In 2024 a vehicle registration will be required from July 1 through September 8 for the Many Glacier area between the hours of 6am to 3pm. The vehicle registration is a separate ticket you need that is $2 and can be purchased here up to 120 days in advance of your trip. A small amount of additional vehicle registration tickets are released one days early. Tickets often sell out at the 120-day mark within hours, if not minutes, of being released.
Only a select number of these are available each day and they are good for three days from the start of the ticket.
It’s important to note that you are able to access Many Glacier before 6am or after 3pm without a vehicle registration. we’ve had good luck utilizing this strategy for afternoon drives and exploration. HOWEVER, if you’re doing one of the longer hikes you’ll probably want to arrive before 6am. Be forewarned many other people who didn’t get a vehicle registration will be attempting this and the line starts getting long early. The cut-off starts promptly at 6am so even if you’re in line and you’re one car away at that clock strikes 6 you’ll have to turn around and wait until 3pm.
You do not need a vehicle registration ticket if you are staying in Many Glacier Lodge, Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins, or the Many Glacier campground. You also don’t need a vehicle registration ticket if you have boat tour or watercraft rental reservations the same day you’re arriving at the Many Glacier entrance.
Popular Hikes in Many Glacier
One of the biggest reasons Many Glacier is such a beloved part of Glacier National Park is because of the epic hiking trails in its vicinity. These trails take you to frosty turquoise lakes, towering mountain vistas, and even one of the last remaining glaciers in the park.
Here are some of the best hikes to do while in Many Glacier:
Hiking to Grinnell Glacier is one of the most popular hikes in the Many Glacier area for good reason: hiking this trail is an incredible experience that takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Glacier National Park and to an actual glacier if you do the full hike!
The trailhead can be accessed from the Many Glacier Hotel area, where there is a large parking lot hikers can use. The trail is approximately 10.6 miles round-trip, and takes an average of 4-6 hours to complete depending on your pace and how often you stop along the way.
The hike itself can be challenging, with a total elevation gain of approximately 1,600 feet. However, the stunning views of alpine lakes and mountains and ancient ice make it all worth it.
Keep an eye out for wildlife as well, as this area is home to grizzly bears, moose, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep.
The final destination of the hike is Grinnell Glacier. Take the trail all the way to the overlook where you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the glacier and surrounding mountains. You can also take the side trail down to the glacier for an icy view.
Grinnell Lake Hike
Don’t have the time or stamina to hike all the way to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook? Opt for the Grinnell Lake Hike instead.
This hike stays on the valley floor so the incline never gets too steep, but the reward at the end is still worth it. Before turning around, this there and back hike culminates at Grinnell Lake, an incredibly scenic alpine lake that shimmers in shades of emerald and turquoise with a massive, jagged pointed mountain serving as its backdrop.
Josephine Lake Trail
This trail is a fairly easy, mostly flat trail that wraps around picturesque Josephine Lake, which is just to the west of Swiftcurrent Lake. The two lakes are connected by this trail, which starts by Many Glacier Hotel and links up with Grinnell Lake Trail and onto Grinnell Glacier.
My favorite part of this trail was the way it would cut through forests and then bring you right up by the lake again. The views were astounding the entire time.
Iceberg Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Glacier National Park, offering stunning views of towering peaks and crystal-clear alpine lakes. Starting from the Swiftcurrent Trailhead, the trail spans 9.7 miles round trip, with a total elevation gain of 1,200 feet. The hike is considered moderate to strenuous, with several switchbacks and steep climbs along the way.
If you’re planning to hike the Iceberg Lake trail, it’s important to arrive early, as parking at the Swiftcurrent Trailhead fills up quickly. Alternatively, visitors can park at the Many Glacier Hotel and take the shuttle to the trailhead. Along the way, hikers will be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, including Grinnell Point and Mount Gould.
As you approach the lake itself, keep an eye out for signs of wildlife, including mountain goats and bighorn sheep. At the lake, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the glacier-fed water and towering icebergs floating in the water. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, as well as a camera to capture the incredible scenery along the way.
Hiking Tips for Many Glacier
Be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen, as well as appropriate hiking gear such as sturdy boots and layers for changing weather conditions. The trail is best hiked in early summer. The end of summer sometimes results in trail closures due to bear activity since the bears like to meander along the trails and forage in all the berry bushes alongside it.
Also, if hiking to Grinnell Glacier or Grinnell Lake, utilizing the boat ferries can save you substantial time. More on that below…
Boat Tours and Kayak Rentals in Many Glacier
Glacier Boat Company has a kiosk behind Many Glacier Lodge right by the lake and offers boat ride tours and watercraft rentals for visitors to explore the area’s stunning beauty and natural wonders.
One of the most popular options is the scenic boat tour on Swiftcurrent Lake and Josephine Lake. This tour takes visitors on a 90-minute trip across the pristine waters of both lakes, surrounded by majestic mountains, dense forests, and abundant wildlife. A short 10-minute hike with a moderate incline is required to get between the two lakes (and two different boats). Visitors can also opt for a 4-hour tour that includes a guided hike to Grinnell Lake.
If you’re looking for an adventurous and scenic experience in Glacier National Park, I highly recommend renting a kayak or canoe from Glacier Boat Company. Swiftcurrent Lake is a popular destination for kayaking enthusiasts due to its crystal clear waters and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
When renting a watercraft, the staff at Glacier Boat Company will provide you with all the necessary equipment, including life jackets and paddles.
Once you’re out on the water, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the lake at your own pace and take in the stunning scenery of the surrounding mountains and forests. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as moose and grizzly bears which are known to frequent the banks of the lake.
In addition to kayaks, canoes and rowboats are available to rent. They are first-come, first-serve with one exception: 9:30am advance reservations are available each day for a limited number of watercraft.
When my daughters and I stayed overnight at Many Glacier Lodge, we reserved two kayaks at the 9:30 time for the morning we checked out. Checkout was at 11am (and no late checkout – I asked and they said no which I expected) so we walked down from our room at 9:30, got set up on the kayaks and returned to the little marina at 10:45. Then we went back up to our room, used the bathroom, grabbed our already-packed bags, and were on our way to our car and our next destination. We did lose a bit of time, but it was worth it to me to know we wouldn’t have to wait for a kayak and allowed me to more easily plan out our day.
My girls (who kayak quite a bit at home) were complaining about being in a hurry to leave our room and putting on the long underwear I made them wear, but once we were out on the lake, they loved it. My 5-year old sat with me and my 8-year old paddled her own kayak, which I connected to mine with a rope so we didn’t drift too far apart. We all had so much fun! I didn’t think they’d last even an hour, but we easily could have gone the whole two hours.
When we came back I overheard some people putting their name down and it was about a 90-minute wait. I asked the person working if that is typically the norm and he said it varies quite a bit depending on the day, month, and what the weather is like. We got lucky and had BEAUTIFUL weather.
Accommodations in Many Glacier
Many Glacier Hotel: the Most Iconic Place to Stay in Glacier National Park
Many Glacier Lodge is a historic hotel that is the defining landmark of the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park. The lodge is situated on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Many Glacier Lodge was originally built in 1914 and has been updated with modern amenities while still maintaining its rustic charm.
Guests can choose from a variety of room types, ranging from standard rooms to lakeside suites. The lodge also features several dining options, including a lakeview restaurant and a cozy lounge.
Best of all, it give you close, easy access to the best activities in the area, including hiking, fishing, boat tours, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins is a cozy and comfortable place to stay in the heart of Glacier National Park. The inn offers a range of accommodations, including traditional motel rooms and rustic cabins.
The motel rooms are clean and well-appointed, with comfortable beds. The cabins are more rustic, but still comfortable.
There are two cabin categories. The historic cabins do not have bathrooms ensuite and just have a sink, though shared bathrooms with toilets and showers are within walking distance. A small number of a more modern category of cabins with bathrooms are also available and these get booked up very quickly when reservations are released.
I like how the cabins and motels are tucked back into the forest away from the hustle and bustle of the parking lot that the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn front desk building and restaurant face. So even though this is an extremely busy area of the park with so many visitors trying to find parking and gain access to the trailheads, you’ll still feel peaceful if you want to take a break from hiking to sit outside with a good book in nature.
Camping in Many Glacier
The Many Glacier Campground is located near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and offers 109 campsites with potable water and flush toilets nearby. The campground is open seasonally from late May to mid-September, and reservations are highly recommended during peak season. The sites are situated in a wooded area near Swiftcurrent Creek and offer access to the trails leading to Grinnell Glacier and Iceberg Lake.
In addition to the Many Glacier Campground, there are several backcountry campsites located along the trails in the area. These sites require a backcountry permit and offer a more remote camping experience.
The campsites in Many Glacier offer a great opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Glacier National Park and are well-suited for both tent and RV camping.
HOWEVER, if bear activity is high, this area has been known to require hard sided camping accommodations, such as an RV or hard truck bed cover. If you’re planning on using a typical, soft-sided tent, it may be wise to book backup accommodations somewhere in St. Mary or East Glacier that allow you to cancel without penalties up close to your travel date.
Where to Eat in Many Glacier
The Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park offers a variety of dining options to satisfy any appetite.
The most popular option for foodies is Ptarmigan Hall in Many Glacier Lodge, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a historic and awe-inspiring dining space. The menu features classic gourmet fare such as prime cuts of steak and fresh seafood – there’s even whitefish caviar!
The ambiance is rustic chic, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The restaurant does not take reservations so put your name on the list as soon as you arrive if you’re planning on eating your next meal there.
The wine list is long and features vintages from all around the world. Many of these are by the bottle only, but there are also some excellent choices for wine by the glass. Craft beer and cocktails are also available.
If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, check out the Swiss Lounge next to Ptarmigan Hall.
Dining at Swiss Lounge in Many Glacier Lodge is a delightful experience that combines great food, drinks, and ambiance. The restaurant offers a wide range of meat dishes, including gourmet burgers, bison chili and elk sandwiches. Though the menu is carnivore-heavy, there are some vegetarian and vegan options as well.
The drinks menu at Swiss Lounge is extensive, with a selection of fine wines, local craft beers, and creative cocktails using liquor from nearby distilleries. The ambiance is cozy and inviting, with warm wood paneling and comfortable seating. Just like Ptarmigan Hall, getting a table at the Swiss Lounge is first-come, first-serve.
Since reservations are not available, I recommend putting down your name as soon as you arrive to the lodge. Then, if it’s a bit of a wait, then you can use that time to check out the hotel before returning to wait for your name to be called. We used our wait time to head down to the gift shop.
Heidi’s Snack Shop and Espresso Stand
For a quick bite or caffeine fix, Heidi’s Snack Shop and Espresso Stand is the perfect choice. This popular spot offers a variety of snacks, sandwiches, and baked goods, as well as coffee and espresso drinks. There are a few tables located inside just outside the snack shop. Or take it upstairs onto the expansive lake-view terrace of Many Glacier Lodge for some al fresco dining.
Lastly, ‘Nell’s Restaurant at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn offers a casual fare menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with counter service. The menu features predominately American cuisine, with a focus on burgers and sandwiches.
The large windows provide a view of the surrounding mountains (along with the parking lot where you can watch vehicles circle during breakfast and lunch time hoping to get a spot for the nearby trailheads).
‘Nell’s is open for breakfast from 6:30am to 10am, lunch from 11:30am to 3:30pm, and dinner from 5pm to 9:30pm
Cattle Baron Supper Club
If you don’t want to deal with a long wait, check out the Cattle Baron Supper Club in Babb before or after heading into the park. Cattle Baron Supper Club is located right by where you turn off Hwy-89 to Many Glacier.
Located on the Blackfeet reservation, the restaurant is owned and run by a family who are members of the tribe so you’ll be supporting the local economy when eating here as well.
Many Glacier Gift Shops
Both Many Glacier Lodge and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn have a gift shop. It’s located down a level from the lobby in Many Glacier Lodge and right off the lobby for Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.
What to Pack for Many Glacier
Bringing the right gear is essential to properly enjoying your time in Many Glacier. Here is our top 10 list of what to bring.
- Bear Spray: Many Glacier is home to grizzly bears, so it’s important to bring bear spray in case of an encounter. It’s so important I wrote a whole post about bear spray here. Also, if camping, you’ll want to bring a bearproof food canister.
- Hiking Boots and Wool Socks: Many Glacier offers many beautiful and challenging hiking trails, so make sure to bring a sturdy and comfortable pair of hiking boots. I also highly recommend investing in some wool hiking socks if you don’t have them since these dry faster and aren’t as prone to causing blisters if your feet get wet.
- Warm Layers: Even in the summer, temperatures can drop significantly at night, so make sure to pack warm layers like a fleece jacket, hat, and gloves.
- Rain Gear: Glacier National Park is known for its unpredictable weather, so make sure to bring a waterproof jacket and pants to keep you dry during sudden rainstorms. That being said, you’ll be happy to hear that the east side of the continental divide of Glacier National Park is less prone to rain during peak season.
- Camp Blanket: Even with all your layers, you may want a camp blanket to cuddle up in if you’re staying overnight in Many Glacier. This will make sunset, star, and sunrise viewing much more cozy.
- Sunscreen and Sunglasses: The sun can be intense at high altitudes, so make sure to bring sunscreen and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes.
- Water Bottle and Snacks: There are many beautiful and remote hiking trails in the Many Glacier area, so make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you fueled and hydrated during your adventures. If you’re visiting from a lowland area and worry you might be prone to altitude sickness, these Liquid IV packets are great to bring, too.
- Binoculars: Many Glacier is also home to a variety of birds and wildlife, so bring binoculars to get a closer look.
- Hiking Pole(s): These really do come in handy, especially on uneven terrain or if there’s still snow on the ground.
- Map and Compass: While there are many well-marked trails in the area, it’s always a good idea to bring a map and compass in case you get confused about where you are. Check with reception for the lodge or the boat rental kiosk for a helpful Many Glacier hiking map. This map is also considered to be the gold standard for hikers in Glacier National Park.