Exploring Glacier Park | 6-Day Guided Hike in August

An absolutely stunning week-long series of guided hikes

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Distance

8/12 Miles

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Elevation Gain

400/2,700 Feet

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Difficulty

Moderate/Strenuous

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Cost Per Person

$1800

Progam Overview

August 18-23, 2024: During this epic series of guided day hikes, we promise you 6 days of camaraderie, learning, and world-class hiking that you will remember for the rest of your life. Join like-minded adventurers for an exploration of the ‘Crown of the Continent’ Ecosystem. Venture out each day with outdoor education specialists to see and learn about cerulean lakes, meadows bursting with wildflowers, the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, and Glacier’s famous bears and goats. This trip is designed for those that want to see and learn as much as possible about Glacier.

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Exploring Glacier Park | 6-Day Guided Hike in August

Hike Overview Continued

Educational Guided Tour

John Muir encouraged visitors to Glacier National Park to “give a month at least to this precious  reserve.” He said that time in Glacier “will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening  it, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal.” Although we cannot promise that this trip  will result in immortality, we can promise a week of camaraderie, learning, and world-class hiking that  you will remember for the rest of your life. Join like-minded adventurers for a weeklong exploration of  the ‘Crown of the Continent’ Ecosystem. Venture out each day with outdoor education specialists to  see and learn about cerulean lakes, meadows bursting with wildflowers, the iconic Going to the Sun  Road, and Glacier’s famous bears and goats. This trip is designed for those that want to see and learn  as much as possible about Glacier over the course of a single week.  

Itinerary: (subject to change due to trail closures and weather) 

Day 1: All travelers should arrive at the Glacier Institute Field Camp between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.  At camp, you will settle into your cabins, familiarize yourself with the campus, and meet other  travelers. Then, over a happy hour with lemonade and appetizers, we will review the schedule  for the week, go over risk management policies, and answer questions for the week ahead.  After dinner we will enjoy a short evening walk to Quarter-Circle bridge to stretch our legs and look for wildlife. 

Day 2: Our morning drive takes us along Going-to-the-Sun Road, over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, to the east side of the park where we are welcomed by St. Mary Lake. The hike begins at Sun Point. It is home to the site of the Reynolds Creek Fire, where old charred snags and new flourishing flora create a great opportunity to discuss fire ecology. We will first pass the smallest fall, Baring Falls. Continuing along the trail, sounds of cascading waters echoing through a gorge draws us to St. Mary Falls, an ideal place to spot American dippers. The trail then ascends along Virginia Creek past a series of waterfalls and cascades to our destination of thundering waters in free-fall. Virginia Falls main tier drops 50 feet, creating a cool and misty moment for any hiker in its presence. 

Length: 6.3m roundtrip, Elevation Change: 682ft

Optional Evening Program: Native America Speaks Program at Apgar Campground Amphitheater : 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Day 3: Today marks our long journey to the spectacular Many Glacier region. Iceberg Lake, a  turquoise jewel set in an amphitheater of rock, will be the breathtaking destination of this  popular hike. Along the trail we will wander through spruce and pine forests and gaze upon colorful alpine meadows with scenic views of towering peaks and glacially-carved valleys. Our guide will discuss the unique geology of this area along with discussion of wildflowers and  wildlife that call this ecosystem home. The friendly grades of this trail suit all hikers’ habits and  leave the legacy of the Many Glacier valley in permanent view. 

Length: 9.6mi roundtrip, Elevation Change: 1,765ft

Day 4: Today will begin with a drive up to Logan Pass along the stunning Going to the Sun  Road. We will hike along the Highline Trail, one of the Park’s most remarkable trails. Our local expert guide will give us an overview of the park’s geology and the mile high glaciers that once  carved these landscapes. Logan Pass is a wildlife-rich area, and we will keep an eye out for  mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and the gregarious hoary marmot along the trail, discussing  how these alpine species survive in this harsh environment.  

Length: 8.4mi roundtrip, Elevation Change: 1,758ft

Evening Program: Glacier Institute Outdoor Education Specialist: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 

Day 5: Our morning drive will take us around the southern boundary of the park, back towards the Two Medicine valley, with our eyes set on Scenic Point. The raging torrent of Appistoki Falls is hardly out of earshot before the first few switchbacks carry one into a bleached graveyard of Whitebark Pine. The decline of this keystone species is reverberating throughout the forested zones of the Rockies with grave ecological implications! Switchbacks of dusty scree and a moonscape tundra contrast with hemispheres of green, plants inches-tall clinging to the thinnest skein of soil while bighorn sheep graze at elevations of the eye that defy pastoral possibilities. We will eat lunch atop the mountain with grand sweeping views, the Two Medicine valley one way and, in the other, the Sweet Grass Hills nearly 100 miles afar on a raven’s line.

Length: 7.9mi roundtrip, Elevation Change: 2,350ft

Evening Program: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 

Day 6:The trip will end after breakfast, and packed lunches will be available to take with you. All  travelers should plan to check out by 10 a.m. 

Food: The following meals will be provided by the Glacier Institute staff: Dinner on Day 1 through lunch  on Day 6. We can accommodate any dietary restrictions upon request. Breakfast and dinners will be  eaten in camp while most lunches will be eaten out in the field.  

Accommodations: 5 nights of lodging are included into the course fee. Our student cabins are basic,  hostel-style cabins with 5 single beds, bedside lights, and electrical outlets. Students should be  prepared to share a cabin with up to 4 other people, cabins are separated by gender. Couples may be  paired up in the event there is ample space. We provide a bottom sheet for your bed as well as a pillow  and pillow case, but please bring a warm sleeping bag. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for  night trips to the bathroom. The community bathhouse has flush toilets, sinks, and hot showers.  

Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entrance passes prior to the  course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280.  

Physical Requirements: Moderately-strenuous. Participants will hike an average of 10 miles each day  over uneven terrain with an average elevation gain of up to 2,000 feet. See hike-specific trail stats on  itinerary below (these are approximations). 

Equipment: You will receive a Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly are comfortable  hiking shoes, snacks, water bottle at least 1-2 liters, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied, especially in the higher altitudes, so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, with  extra warm layers. We will be hiking in varied elevations throughout the course so expect cold,  potential snow and high winds. 

Suggestions on Getting There: The Glacier Institute Field Camp is located just inside the West  Entrance to Glacier National Park. The nearest airport is in Kalispell, Montana, about 30 minutes from  Field Camp. Travelers should plan to arrive at Field Camp on arrival day between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to  check in and get settled. Travelers should plan to depart Field Camp by 10 a.m. on departure day. If  you find airline reservations are difficult to make by flying into Kalispell, an alternative is to fly into  Missoula, which is about three hours from the park. If you fly into Missoula you will need to rent a car  for the drive up to the park. 

*Note: airfare and car rental are not included in the trip price. 

Notes on our Itinerary: It is common for many of our days to start early with breakfast between 6 a.m.  and 7 a.m. We plan accordingly to beat the heat as well as the crowds, and allow ourselves ample time  to reach the trailhead each day. The early bird gets the worm, especially in Glacier National Park. We  allow ample down time in the evenings, upon returning from our daily excursion. Due to the nature of  experiencing a natural place such as Glacier National Park we are constantly adjusting our plans to  accommodate road and trail closures (due to bears, weather and wildlife). Therefore natural  circumstances may arise that warrant us adjusting some of the above itinerary.  *Be sure to also check out our adult day courses going on. If there is one you are interested in joining  during your week, please inquire upon registration.  

Trip Difficulty: Most of our hikes will range from 8-12 miles in length. The hikes will be moderate to  moderately strenuous with elevation gains of 400-2,700 feet. All of the hikes are on maintained trails  and will take place between elevations of 5,000 to 8,100 feet. In order to comfortably complete the  hikes on this trip, all hikers should be participating in regular aerobic activity four to five days a week  for a minimum of 30 minutes duration — jogging, bike riding, or using the aerobic equipment at your  local gym are just some examples. To help build your endurance, you should begin weekly hikes a few  months before the trip of 8-10 miles that gain at least 1,500-2,000 feet of elevation. By the time of the  trip you should be able to comfortably maintain an average hiking speed of 2-2.5 mph for six to eight  hours — the key word being comfortably. Because of the small, but real potential for grizzly bear  encounters while hiking in Glacier National Park, it is not safe for people to become separated from the group. Therefore, it is imperative that you are able to maintain the hiking pace recommended by the  leader.  

Weather: Field Camp is located in West Glacier, roughly 3,600ft above sea level. Glacier National Park  covers quite a large spread of land, and straddles the continental divide. On any given day, the  weather on the west side of the divide can be quite different from the weather on the east side of the  divide. The best way to be prepared for ever changing mountainous weather is to have layers! See our  gear list for recommendations on what to bring. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. NOAA Weather Forecast is a great resource for this. Although we will be lodging in West Glacier  we will also travel to the eastern side of the divide near East Glacier & Saint Mary; checking the  weather for these different locations can help to provide a big picture of the forecast. 

Gratuity Guidelines: Gratuity for Outdoor Education Specialists and/or Instructors is not included.  

Fellow Travelers: This is a group travel adventure. All participants are encouraged to review the  itinerary and trip difficulty. It is inevitable that some travelers will have different goals, perspectives and  abilities. We ask that the group respect each individual’s conditions and needs throughout the course  or trip. We want everyone to enjoy themselves to the fullest! 

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What to Expect On Your Exploring Glacier Park | 6-Day Hike in August

We will spend 6 days seeing and learning as much as possible about Glacier National Park. Most of our hikes will range from 8-12 miles in length. The hikes will be moderate to moderately strenuous with elevation gains of 400-2,700 feet. All of the hikes are on maintained trails and will take place between elevations of 5,000 to 8,100 feet.

* Any trails listed on this program or others are subject to change due to trail closure, weather, trail conditions, or wildlife.

Program Details

  • This program meets at Glacier Institute Field Camp, West Glacier.
  • The program will begin at 5 p.m. on day 1 and ends at 10 a.m. on the final day. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers 8-12 miles, with 400-2,700 feet. All of the hikes are on maintained trails and will take place between elevations of 5,000 to 8,100 feet.
  • Glacier National Park Vehicle Pass is required, you can purchase a pass at recreation.gov.
  • On-site parking is available.
  • There is a maximum number of 25 hikers per trip.
  • This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.

The Glacier Institute has a 7 day cancellation policy for a full refund with all of our courses.

What to Bring

Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • Lightweight hiking boots or a sturdy pair of hiking shoes
  • 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
  • Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
  • Waterproof rain jacket and pants
  • Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellant & lip balm
  • Camera (optional)
  • Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Field Notebook notes and sketches

Download complete checklist here