As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.

Best Winter Weekend Getaway in Glacier National Park

By Trent Jonas

Best Winter Weekend Getaway in Glacier National Park

Those seeking a true winter getaway—limited facilities and wireless service, e.g.—under the Big Sky need look no further than Glacier National Park. This jewel of a park is renowned for its rugged splendor and untouched wilderness. With abundant winter recreation opportunities, it’s the perfect place for a winter weekend getaway in Montana.

St. Mary Campground, Glacier National Park, MT

St. Mary Campground, on Glacier’s eastern edge, is open year-round to primitive and vehicle camping. Campers should be aware that there is no water available in the campground during winter months and plan accordingly. While winter camping is free, park entrance fees still apply. Backcountry winter camping is also allowed with a free backcountry permit.

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Snowshoe Lake McDonald

At the south end of Lake McDonald, you will find plenty of snowshoeing opportunities—with gorgeous views of the mountains on the far side of the lake. If the ice is thick enough, head out on to the lake, itself, or enjoy the winter quietude among the trees on the shoreline. Free, ranger-guided snowshoe walks take place on weekends throughout the winter, leaving from the Apgar Visitor Center. Snowshoe rentals are available.

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Hop on your sled and head for Canyon Creek

While snowmobiling is not allowed in the boundaries of Glacier National Park, the greater Glacier area abounds with opportunities, including groomed and ungroomed trail systems. Flathead National Forest, which is contiguous to the park, is home to the Canyon Creek Groomed Snowmobile Trail System. The system contains more than 100 miles of trails that afford gorgeous views of Glacier’s mountains and valleys. If you don’t have your own sled, Swan Mountain Snowmobiling offers rentals, as well as guided snowmobile trips.

Hit the slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort

Just west of Glacier National Park, you’ll find Whitefish Mountain Resort, which is one of Montana’s largest. With more than 3,000 skiable acres, including plenty of backcountry opportunities, there’s a lot to love about Whitefish: 105 marked trails; four terrain parks; a skier/boardcross course; 333 inches of snow every year; and more than 2,300 feet of vertical. The resort’s longest run is over three miles. Hit up the hot tub after that one!

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Pull a trout through the ice

The lakes in Glacier National Park are open to fishing all year long, including ice fishing. While the ice fishing experience in Glacier is more rustic—no power augers, no motorized vehicles on the lake—the opportunity to pull lake trout, brook trout, and whitefish up through the ice makes it worthwhile. Lakes that are west of the Continental Divide, such as Lake McDonald, offer some of the park’s best fishing.

Ski the Red Eagle Lake Trail

The Red Eagle Lake Trail, in eastern Glacier, skirts the edge of St. Mary Lake, following an old fire road through rolling knolls. Gorgeous views across the lake to the mountains will sustain you as you schuss to the payoff for your hard work: A blufftop vista overlooking Red Eagle Lake. The round trip is eight miles. 

Bag a trophy in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex

Hunting is strictly prohibited within Glacier National Park, but the contiguous Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, south and west of the park, is a designated state Hunting District for deer, elk and other game. Check the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website for the most up-to-date seasons and regulations before you go.

Fat bike the Whitefish Trail

One of the best opportunities for winter fat biking in the Glacier area is just outside the park, near Whitefish. The Whitefish Trail is comprised of 42 trail miles with several trailheads designed for year-round use. Lion Mountain Trailhead is the perfect place to get started on your pedaling adventure. If you don’t want to lug your own ride on the trip, Glacier Cyclery can set you up with a rental.

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You’re in Montana: Eat a steak at Jagz Restaurant

Montana is ranch country, so you know the steak is going to be good. Just outside Glacier’s western boundary, you’ll find Jagz Restaurant, a fantastic steakhouse that’s open during the winter season. They offer everything from an eight-ounce sirloin to a porterhouse that weighs in at almost a pound and a half—and plenty of options in between. Dig in!

As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.