Plan Your Trip to Visit Glacier National Park in the Winter

You’ll enjoy a winter wonderland when visiting Glacier National Park in the winter.

Add Glacier National Park to your list of National Park vacation ideas. It will be an unforgettable experience that you will always remember. 

visiting glacier national park in the winter

The landscape is covered in snow and with opportunities to do a variety of winter activities.

Use this guide to know the expected temperatures and weather, services available, things to do, what to pack, and where to stay during the year.

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Winter Packing List for National Parks

Glacier National Park in the winter
Glacier National Park in the winter

Visiting Glacier National Park in the Winter

Here’s what to expect when planning a winter vacation to Glacier National Park. Be sure to check the website for the most updated Glacier National Park current conditions.

Winter Weather at Glacier National Park

During the winter you can almost guarantee freezing temperatures with averages ranging from the low 30s to around 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Although this seems extremely cold, with the right gear and clothing you will still really have an enjoyable trip you will love. 

If you are visiting Glacier National Park in December you can expect temperatures to be around 27 degrees Fahrenheit as the high and dip all the way down into the mid-teens. On average they get about 19 days of rain in December. 

As we move into January you will still see quite a bit of rain, about 19 days and the temperatures will range from 30 degrees Fahrenheit to 17 degrees Fahrenheit. 

February brings some warmer temperatures with the highs averaging around 32 degrees and the lows around 14 degrees.  

Is Glacier National Park Open in the Winter?

Glacier National Park is open every day throughout the year, however, in the winter some visitor facilities may close depending on the weather. 

Check the Glacier NP website for updated facilities hours.

Glacier NP Road Closures in the Winter

Although Glacier National Park is open throughout the whole year, weather forces most roads in the park to close.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge is plowed and open year-round, weather permitting. Check the Glacier NP website for current conditions.

Can I See the Northern lights in Glacier National Park?

Don’t forget that “Half the park is after dark” at Glacier. Yes, you can see the northern lights at Glacier National Park. We recommend Lake McDonald since it has an open view to the north.

Check the Aurora Forecast and look for KP rating of 5 or above for the best chances to see northern lights.

Northern Lights at Glacier National Park
Northern Lights at Glacier National Park

Lodging Near Glacier National Park in the Winter

During the winter months, lodging is not available within the park. You’ll find hotels and vacation rentals in the West Glacier community:

Winter camping at Glacier National Park: primitive camping is available year-round at Apgar and St. Mary Campgrounds. There is no running water available and these spots are first come first serve. 

If you choose to go backcountry camping, you will need to obtain a permit in person at the Apgar Backcountry Permit office up to 24 hours prior to going. 

Winter landscape at Glacier National Park
Winter landscape at Glacier National Park

Things to Do in Glacier National Park in the Winter

There are so many Glacier National Park winter activities that you will want to do! Be aware that most of the facilities in the park are closed during the winter. 

West Glacier Headquarters is open throughout the week and Apgar Visitor Center is open on the weekend. 

Glacier Winter Ranger Led Programs

If you are visiting on the weekend you will want to take part in the ranger-guided snowshoe walk. This begins at the Apgar Visitor Center and lasts about 2 hours. These walks are free for those who would like to join. 

Winter Skiing and Snowshoeing at Glacier National Park

Snowshoeing and cross country skiing is a great way to get around in the park. Some of the most popular places to ski and snowshoe are beyond Lake McDonald Lodge. There are many hikes that you will be able to go on with snowshoes while visiting. 

Most of them start around Apgar. Some favorites are Apgar Lookout, Fish Creek, and Lake McDonald West shore. These are fairly easy hikes that many people can enjoy even in the cold winter months. 

Wildlife in the Winter at Glacier

Most of the bigger wildlife will be hibernating in the winter, but there is a good chance that you will be able to see elk, deer, and moose on your visit. You will also see birdlife while visiting. 

Winter Photography at Glacier

With the park pretty much to yourself, you will have the opportunity to take some amazing pictures of Glacier National Park. Be sure to take some pictures of Lake McDonald with the beautiful reflections within the water. 

snowshoeing in the winter
Snowshoeing in the winter

Winter Activities Near Glacier National Park

If you are looking for adventurous winter activities there are several fun things to do just outside the park. Check out this list of things to do in the winter near Glacier.

Snowmobiling

Although snowmobiling is not allowed in the park, it is a fun activity to do just outside in Glacier County. You can rent snowmobiles and go exploring on your own or take a guided tour. 

Dog Sledding

Have you ever wanted to go dog sledding? Well, now you can! You will get the chance to get behind a team of dogs to see the land in a whole new way. 

Downhill Skiing

If Downhill skiing is your cup of tea, then travel about 30 minutes away for world-class skiing. There you can rent skis, take lessons, and hit the slopes this winter.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Drop a line in the ice and see if you can catch a fish while visiting. 

Sleigh Rides

Bundle up with the family and enjoy a sleigh ride together! While in the sleigh you will be able to take in some breathtaking sights of the beautiful snowy landscape. 

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