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Montana

Trailside Glacier: Hiking in Glacier National Park

Program No. 4863RJ
Experience Glacier National Park on expert-led hikes, traverse the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road, and explore the stunning Many Glacier Valley!
Length
7 days
Rating (4.91)
Activity Level
Starts at
2,949

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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
Activity Level: Outdoor: Spirited (6)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 15 - Jul 21, 2023
Starting at
2,949
Jul 22 - Jul 28, 2023
Starting at
2,949
Jul 29 - Aug 4, 2023
Starting at
2,949
Aug 5 - Aug 11, 2023
Starting at
2,949
Aug 12 - Aug 18, 2023
Starting at
2,949
Aug 26 - Sep 1, 2023
Starting at
2,949
Itinerary Note

This program begins at Motel Lake McDonald inside Glacier National Park and ends at Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell, MT.

Activity Level: Outdoor: Spirited (6)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 15 - Jul 21, 2023
Starting at
3,799
Jul 22 - Jul 28, 2023
Starting at
3,799
Jul 29 - Aug 4, 2023
Starting at
3,799
Aug 5 - Aug 11, 2023
Starting at
3,799
Aug 12 - Aug 18, 2023
Starting at
3,799
Aug 26 - Sep 1, 2023
Starting at
3,799
Itinerary Note

This program begins at Motel Lake McDonald inside Glacier National Park and ends at Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell, MT.

Activity Level: Outdoor: Challenging (2)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Aug 19 - Aug 25, 2023
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This program begins at Motel Lake McDonald inside Glacier National Park and ends at Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell, MT.

Sep 2 - Sep 8, 2023
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This program begins at Motel Lake McDonald inside Glacier National Park and ends at Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell, MT.

Activity Level: Outdoor: Challenging (2)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Aug 19 - Aug 25, 2023
Starting at
3,949
Itinerary Note

This program begins at Motel Lake McDonald inside Glacier National Park and ends at Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell, MT.

Sep 2 - Sep 8, 2023
Starting at
3,949
Itinerary Note

This program begins at Motel Lake McDonald inside Glacier National Park and ends at Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell, MT.

At a Glance

Glacier National Park is a hiker’s paradise, with over 1 million acres of unspoiled wilderness and over 700 miles of hiking trails. Immerse yourself in the silent grandeur of the mountains as you hike spectacular trails amid soaring peaks, verdant forests, mountain meadows and turquoise lakes. Discover a wealth of natural beauty around every turn of the trail.
Activity Level
Varies by date
Varies by date. OUTDOOR SPIRITED Dates: Hiking 5-8 miles daily on rocky terrain at elevations of 3,000-7,200 feet. OUTDOOR CHALLENGING Dates: Hiking up to 7-12 miles daily on rocky terrain at elevations of 3,000-7,800 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Enjoy expert-led hikes on some of the most inspiring trails in Glacier National Park where breathtaking vistas.
  • Travel the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road - a National Historic Landmark - for spectacular views of rugged peaks, vast canyons and idyllic waterfalls.
  • Develop a deeper understanding of this intact and wild ecosystem with trail-side lessons as local flora and fauna are encountered, and learn about the geological forces that carved this magnificent landscape thousands of years ago.

General Notes

This program will be split into small groups of about 10 for daily field trips and hikes.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Blackfeet Tales of Glacier National Park
by James Willard Schultz
The author writes a series of diary entries as his Blackfoot friends tell stories in the lodge or around the fire at the end of the day. He has managed to keep the compelling style of his original material, told by talented story tellers. The stories run the gamut from tribal history to legend and myth and convey something of Blackfoot culture, daily life, and beliefs.
Glacier - A Natural History Guide
by David Rockwell
Author and naturalist David Rockwell presents in-depth descriptions of the geology, history, flora, and fauna of the park. He explains the park's evolution from the erosion of Siberian mountains more than a billion years ago to the glaciers that gave Glacier National Park its distinctive landscape. He examines the park's great predators-grizzly bears, mountain lions, and wolves-and their complex relationship with their prey. The result is a fascinating and intimate portrait of one of the world's last wild places.
Going-to-the-Sun Road: Glacier National Park's Highway to the Sky
by C.W. Guthrie
Traveling Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road is an experience like no other. Laborers toiled for nearly 20 years to complete the 50-mile road that winds an impossible route through the heart of Glacier. One of the most scenic highways in the world, this marvel of engineering set the standard for all national parks. C. W. Guthrie tells the intriguing tale of the history and the construction of the epic Going-to-the-Sun Road. Includes more than 60 black-and-white historic and color photographs, maps.
Moon Glacier National Park: Including Waterton Lakes National Park
by Becky Lomax
Writer, editor, and avid outdoorswoman Becky Lomax offers an insider’s perspective on Glacier National Park. From hiking through multi-color meadows filled with wildflowers to observing the Sperry Glacier, a victim of global warming that will vanish in less than two decades, Lomax knows the best ways to enjoy the park’s one million acres of wilderness. She also includes unique trip strategies for travelers with specific interests and restrictions, including a Wildlife-Watching tour and a whirlwind One Day in Glacier tour. Whether it’s biking up Going-to-the-Sun Road or watching a grizzly forage in huckleberries, Moon Glacier National Park gives travelers the tools they need to create a more personal and memorable experience.
Grizzly Country
by Andy Russell
The grizzly bear has always inspired awe in man, but the animal's true nature and character has long been shrouded in myth. Few people know grizzlies as Andy Russell does, and in Grizzly Country he shares stories from a lifetime of experience observing them, first as hunter, then as cameraman. In wonderfully engaging prose, he reveals the life cycle of this remarkable creature.
Wildflowers of Glacier National Park
by Shannon Fitzpatrick Kimball and Peter Lesica
Wildflowers of Glacier National park and Surrounding Areas is a user-friendly guide featuring over 300 of Glacier National Park's most common plant species. From wildflowers to trees to grasses and sedges, this book features beautiful photographs, detailed descriptions, notes on habitat and fun facts for each plant. It's a perfect plant reference for anyone with an interest in the natural history and splendor of Glacier National Park. The index lists plants both by their common and scientific names.
Geology Along Going-to-the-Sun Road
by Raup, Earhart, Whipple, and Carrara
With this colorful and lively guide, Glacier National Park visitors can tour the fascinating geologic events that created the park's majestic scenery. Complete with an easy-to-read map that offers a three-dimensional perspective on the area's geology, Geology Along Going-to-the-Sun Road gives lay readers and geologists alike a glimpse into Glacier's unique geologic summary.
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Presentation
Lake McDonald in West Glacier
D
Motel Lake McDonald

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After orientation, a local expert will join us at the for a presentation that will introduce us to the natural history of Glacier National Park.

Dinner: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Lake McDonald Valley Interpretive Hikes, Presentation
Lake McDonald in West Glacier
B,L,D
Motel Lake McDonald

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 20 miles each day, approximately 35 minutes riding time. Hiking up to 8 miles throughout the day; maintained dirt trails, mountainous terrain that may be rocky and uneven. Maximum elevation gain 800 feet; maximum elevation reached 4,500 feet. Restrooms available at most trail heads.

Breakfast: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Morning: Setting out from the motel aboard our 15-passenger vans, we will ride to Glacier National Park and explore Lake McDonald Valley. There will be several hike choices. Each will be led by a local expert who will provide interpretation along the trail. Trail selections will be made by the Group Leader and field instructors on the day of the hike and are subject to change based on weather, trail conditions, and group ability. Hikes may include the Avalanche Lake Trail, McDonald Creek Trail or Lake McDonald Trail. The Avalanche Lake Trail winds through an old-growth forest of western red cedar and western hemlock. The trail passes a narrow gorge carved by glacial water and ends at an idyllic, subalpine lake rimmed with waterfalls. The McDonald Creek Trail meanders through a mixed woodland of hemlock, western larch, and Douglas fir. The trail parallels McDonald Creek’s cascading turquoise waters and thundering falls. Observant hikers may get a glimpse of harlequin ducks that breed along McDonald Creek. The Lake McDonald Trail hugs the western shoreline of a glacially carved lake surrounded by towering peaks. The trail travels through the remains of recent wildfires, providing the unique opportunity to witness the rebirth of a forest.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: Our expert-led hiking field trip will continue through the beautiful Lake McDonald Valley where we will learn about the unique ecosystem west of the Continental Divide. After hiking, each group will load into their van and ride back to the motel. After returning to the motel, we will gather in the auditorium for a lecture where we will learn more about Glacier National Park’s ecosystems, culture, and history from a local expert.

Dinner: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer.

DAY
3
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Interpretive hike, Swiftcurrent Inn
Swiftcurrent Valley
B,L,D
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 65 miles, approximately 2 hours with stops. Motel elevation 4,900 feet. Hiking 6 to 9 miles throughout the day; maintained trails may be rocky and uneven. Hike elevations 6,660 feet to 7,500 feet. Restrooms available at most trail heads.

Breakfast: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Morning: After checking out of the motel, we’ll head to Many Glacier Valley by way of the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a National Historic Landmark and the only road that crosses through Glacier National Park. The narrow, winding road that hugs the mountainside was designed to complement the landscape and give visitors the opportunity to enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery Glacier National Park has to offer. We will stop on the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, the highest point along the road. We’ll then set out on our expert-led interpretive hikes and explore the fascinating alpine ecosystem. We will learn about the hearty plants and animals that live here and the adaptations that help them thrive in this unforgiving environment.

Lunch: Sack lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our hiking field trip and learn about the past glaciation that sculpted this impressive landscape. After we complete our hikes, we will ride on over Going-to-the-Sun Road where we’ll view sky scraping peaks, waterfalls and meadows teeming with wildflowers and wildlife. Later in the afternoon, we’ll check in to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. The motel is located at the end of the road in Many Glacier Valley and is just steps away from trails that lead into the heart of Glacier National Park.

Dinner: At a restaurant in walking distance of motel.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to scan the surrounding slopes for wildlife, stroll over to the nearby campground and hear a presentation by a park ranger, or just relax and enjoy the scenery.

DAY
4
Grinnell Valley Interpretive Hikes
Swiftcurrent Valley
B,L,D
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving approximately 1/2 hour. Hiking 7 to 12 miles throughout the day; mountainous terrain, maintained dirt trails that may be rocky and uneven. Starting elevation 4,990 feet, maximum elevation 6,550 feet. Restrooms available at most trail heads.

Breakfast: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Morning: We’ll ride a short distance to the trailhead then set off on foot to explore majestic Grinnell Valley. We’ll divide into smaller groups with different distance choices to suit individual abilities and preferences. Thousands of years ago, a massive glacier carved Grinnell Valley, leaving behind a picturesque landscape of towering mountains and a chain of pristine lakes. Tucked high along the steep slopes of the continental divide, two small glaciers remain from the Little Ice Age of the mid-19th century. These glaciers feed waterfalls that cascade hundreds of feet into turquoise lakes below. A quiet forest covers the valley bottom providing abundant habitat for wildlife. While we hike, be on the lookout for bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and moose. Along the trail, our field instructors will share information about the geology, flora, and fauna that make this valley such a spectacular place.

Lunch: Sack lunches.

Afternoon: Our expert-led interpretive hikes will continue in this extraordinary setting.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the motor inn.

Evening: At leisure. Scan the surrounding slopes for wildlife, stroll over to the nearby campground to hear a presentation by a park ranger, and rest up for tomorrow.

DAY
5
Swiftcurrent Valley Interpretive Hikes
Swiftcurrent Valley
B,L,D
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn

Activity note: Most of today’s trail choices will leave directly from the motel; otherwise, getting in/out of vans; driving approximately 20 minutes to/from trailhead. Hiking 7 to 12 miles; mountainous terrain, maintained dirt trails that may be rocky and uneven. Starting elevation 4,900 feet, maximum elevation approximately 6,200 feet.

Breakfast: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Morning: We will have multiple hiking choices of varying difficulty levels to choose from. We’ll head out the front door and hit the trail — no driving required! Keep eyes open for waterfalls and wildlife as we begin a full-day, expert-led, interpretive hike in the Swiftcurrent Valley.

Lunch: Sack lunches.

Afternoon: We will continue to deepen our knowledge and appreciation of the ecosystem we are hiking through with trailside lessons from our expert field instructors. After the hike, we’ll return to the motel.

Dinner: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Eastern Going-to-the-Sun Road Hike, Return to Kalispell
Kalispell
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Kalispell

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 105 miles, approximately 3 hours with stops. Hiking 5 to 9 miles; mountainous terrain, maintained dirt trails that may be rocky and uneven. Maximum elevation 7,600 feet, maximum elevation gain 1,850 feet. Restrooms available at most trail heads.

Breakfast: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Morning: After checking out of the motor inn, we’ll ride back along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Along the way, we will stop for our final hikes. Hike choices — depending on current conditions — may include Piegan Pass, Preston Park, or a trio of waterfalls consisting of Barring Falls, Virginia Falls, and St. Mary Falls. The Piegan Pass and Preston Park hikes will go through subalpine forests and meadows bursting with wildflowers. As the trail gains altitude, we may get a glimpse of Piegan Glacier in the distance. The “triple waterfall” hike will go through a forest that burned in 2015 where new life is abundant and wildflowers abound. Along the trail, we’ll have stunning views of St. Mary Lake and visit three thundering waterfalls.

Lunch: Sack lunches.

Afternoon: After completing our hikes, we’ll finish our ride along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and check back in to the hotel in Kalispell.

Dinner: In the hotel meeting room. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Kalispell
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.