Mountain Air

Glacier Institute's Blog

Benefits of Hiking with a Guide in Glacier National Park


It can all be summed up with that one word. These days, you can save yourself some dollars and spend hours researching before you come to Glacier. You arrived armed with an organized list of “Top Hikes in Glacier Park” and “Best Places to View Wildlife” ready to have a great trip, And I won’t hold it against you if you do. I’m what you could call a “thrifty” person. However, in weighing the at decision to go it alone, it is important to know what you are missing out on. 

I would argue that utilizing a local guide on any vacation, near or far, grants you backdoor access to the place this human has decided to place their roots. There’s some reason why this person chose to be here, of all places, and I’ll bet there’s a good story behind it. This story might go back to their childhood experiences, or the mentor they had in college. Perhaps, they were inspired by a movie or book they read. Whatever it is, the allure was too great for them to resist.

It’s our stories that shape the lens we view the world by. Good, bad, or indifferent. For instance, there’s a reason why I’m drawn to certain places in Glacier National Park with dense, quiet forest. These places remind me of hunting with my dad in Paul Bunyan State Forest in Akeley, MN. These are the forests where I saw my first porcupine in a tree, had a flying squirrel nearly land on my face, and watched beavers stache browse for hours on end, preparing for the winter. These experiences shaped a desire to work with animals, and led me to work directly with beavers and porcupines for many years. 

To take it a step further, what if that guide was also a subject expert on what you were seeing? What if that person was able to unlock the story of the geology of Glacier National Park, or tell you the tale of the way the Blackfeet use that wildflower you just walked by medicinally? How about the story behind the tracks in the dirt, left behind by a creature who chose a specific path to avoid a specific predator at that time of year.

All of which, you would have missed when you chose to go out on your own. 

Use a guide to connect to the stories. Go with a Glacier Institute outdoor education specialist to experience something that is way beyond your typical guided hike.