Glacier

Glacier National Park Through the Seasons

Glacier National Park in Montana is America’s tenth most visited national park, and is home to about two dozen active glaciers.

What is the Best Month to Visit Glacier National Park?

Based on our research and data, the best month to visit the Glacier National Park is September. September is the sweet spot where most of the park is still open, yet the crowds have started to die down a bit from their summer peak.

As for the other seasons, here are our picks for best months within each of them:

  • Mid-to-Late June in Spring
  • Either month (July or August) in Summer: both are similar weather-wise and both are extremely busy.
  • September in Fall
  • November in Winter

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Best Months: July, August & September
Hours: Open 24 hours a day, but the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons may bring massive closures due to snowfall.
Entrance Fee: $35 (summer), $25 (winter) – valid for 7 days

Learn More…

Spring (May – June)

Glacier

With services limited in the spring months, visitors need to plan ahead and be self-sufficient. Most services in and near the park do not reopen for the season until late May or early June. Most accommodations in and around the park are also very limited during Springtime.

Plowing winter snows from Glacier’s roads can take two to four months. By late May, most roads are open for vehicle travel, except Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass. Lower portions of Going-to-the-Sun Road are open year-round, but the entire road does not open until at least late June or early July. The Logan Pass area is also not accessible by vehicle until then. However, while Going-to-the-Sun Road is being plowed by park management, it is often open to hikers.

Higher elevation trails can be dangerous and snow-covered until around late June.

Glacier NP’s Spring Statistics:

  • Average Precipitation Amounts: 94 inches (239 cm)
  • Average High Temperature: 57 °F (14 °C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 38 °F (3 °C)
  • Average Park Visits per Month: 170,000 in May; 500,000+ in June

Summer (July – August)

Glacier National Park

The two summer months of Glacier National Park account for over 50% of the yearly visitors that come through the gates. This is an unbelievably busy time of the year, which makes finding a last minute room virtually impossible. Most rooms and camping spots need to be booked at least 6 or more months in advance.

The trails to-and-from the many glaciers in the park will become very busy with hikers.

Aside from the crushing amount of people you’ll encounter, at least the weather is very present. Highs during the day are in the very comfortable 70’s and lows usually stay well above freezing.

Glacier NP’s Summer Statistics:

  • Average Precipitation Amounts: 40 inches (102 cm)
  • Average High Temperature: 70 °F (21 °C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 48 °F (9 °C)
  • Average Park Visits per Month: 825,000

Fall (September – October)

Fall is a wonderful time to experience Glacier National Park, but visitors at this time of year need to plan ahead and be self-sufficient. Generally, when the park is less crowded, the wildlife is more active, which includes bears. The trees are beginning to turn colors by mid-September, and last until the western larch (a deciduous conifer that loses its needles) turns yellow in mid-October.

The visitor centers close in late September and early October. Luckily for the few visitors that do show up at the park in the fall, the restrooms at the Apgar Visitor Center remain open year-round.

September weather in Glacier National Park averages temperatures around 60°F, however it at times can reach into the mid 70s. The lows in September hover between 25- and 40°F. September Snow in Glacier National Park would be unusual.

Crowds drop dramatically from August to September, and even more so come October. By October, Glacier NP sees less than one-tenth the amount of visitors as it did at its peak in July.

The fall weather at the park can be brisk-to-chilly. Daytime highs hover around the low-to-mid 50s and the lows at night drop into the 30s.

Glacier NP’s Autumn/Fall Statistics:

  • Average Precipitation Amounts: 50 inches (127 cm)
  • Average High Temperature: 52 °F (11 °C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 34 °F (1 °C)
  • Average Park Visits per Month: 500,000 in September; 80,000 in October

Winter (November – April)

Glacier in Winter
unsplash.com/@rpnickson

It’s a common misconception that Glacier National Park is closed in the winter. In fact, its open all 365 days of the year. However, services and park roads are severely limited or downright inaccessible during the winter season, which lasts five months. Accommodations are virtually non-existent around the park, which sees less than 20,000 visitors per month during the winter season.

Massive snowfalls force most roads in the park to close in the winter. The portion of Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge is almost always plowed and open year-round, but most other roads remain completely inaccessible by vehicle.

Glacier NP’s Winter Statistics:

  • Average Precipitation Amounts: 88 inches (223 cm)
  • Average High Temperature: 26 °F (-3 °C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 16 °F (-9 °C)
  • Average Park Visits per Month: 20,000