If you’re the sort of person who enjoys gorgeous mountain vistas, placid blue lakes, forests of lush trees, you need to plan a trip to Glacier National Park.
Located near the US border with Montana, this park offers some of Canada’s most beautiful natural beauty. And there are tons of activities for the entire family to enjoy available at the park.
When planning your trip to Glacier National Park Canada, there are some sites, campgrounds, and hotels you won’t want to miss. Read on to start planning your next visit to this gorgeous Canadian landmark.
Although the land has been around for billions of years, Glacier National Park in Canada was only founded a little more than a century ago. People know little about how the First Nations peoples used the land prior to the arrival of the railroad. At least four aboriginal groups are known to have lived here, although we know very little about them today.
The park was established in 1886 after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The railway company wanted to use the new railroad to promote tourism to some of the breathtaking spots located around the country along the rail line. They built the first visitor facilities in the park, and when the Trans-Canada Highway was finished in 1962, the park saw another large expansion.
The geology of Glacier National Park is remarkable, no matter whether you’re on the Canadian side or the Montanan side.
The park contains some of the oldest sedimentary rocks anywhere on the continent, and it contains, among other amazing features, the Continental Divide. The Lewis Overthrust Fault marks the area where the tectonic plates crashed together, forming North America.
Although there are no active glaciers in Glacier National Park, there are about two dozen alpine glaciers. An alpine glacier is one that’s surrounded by mountains and so can’t move around freely. Sperry Glacier, Stanton Glacier, Pumpelly Glacier, and Grant Glacier are just a few of the more famous glaciers found in the park.
The Rocky Mountains are the most prominent chain in Glacier National Park. In fact, the section of the Rockies in the park contains the oldest exposed sedimentary rock in the whole chain – more than 1.6 billion years old.
When you visit the park, you may notice the remarkable reds, greens, and maroons present in the mountains thanks to iron deposits.
On the Canadian side of Glacier National Park, you can find a number of caves deep within the rock and ice. The Nakimu Caves are located in British Columbia and run for more than six kilometres. These caves were formed when Cougar Brook ate away at the limestone in that area, opening the caverns.
Getting to Glacier National Park Canada
If you plan to visit Glacier National Park Canada, you’ll have several travel options. Because of the presence of the highway, it’s relatively easy to drive into the park and get to most of the facilities.
There are also plenty of bus options for people who don’t want to take a car into the national park.
Glacier National Park is located in southeastern British Columbia, south of the Alberta border. It’s about halfway between Vancouver and Edmonton and is due west of Calgary – about a three-and-a-half-hour drive away. This park is also surrounded by other national parks, including Banff, Jasper, Mt. Robson, Kootenay, Goat Range, and several more.
Glacier National Park extends from Heather Mountain on its northeast corner down to Moonraker Peak on its eastern edge. It extends down past Sugarloaf Mountain to the south and over to Virtue Mountain in the southwest. It reaches up past Mount Carson and Mystic Mountain on its western side and up to Sorcerer Glacier, Nordic Mountain, and Mount McNic II on the northern edge.
One of the most popular options is to travel by shuttle bus. Between June and September, Glacier Park Inc runs a shuttle bus between East Glacier in Montana and Waterton in Alberta. You can also get a charter van service through Airport Shuttle Express Ltd. that runs from the Calgary International Airport to a variety of locations in the park.
You may also opt to take a Greyhound bus into Glacier National Park. The bus service runs a line between the Calgary International Airport and Pincher Creek in Alberta. From there, you can take a taxi or rideshare to one of the shuttle locations that will take you further into the park.
Of course, you may also prefer to rent a car for your trip to Glacier National Park Canada. You can get to any of the facilities in the park by road, although you may have to take a circuitous route to get there. Enjoy the scenery on your drive, and be sure to follow any safety directions the park rangers may give you during your visit.
Things to Do in Glacier National Park Canada
Glacier National Park Canada offers endless gorgeous views, hikes, camping spots, and other activities. No matter where you go in the park, you’ll find some new vista that will amaze you.
However, there are a few places that are particular favourites among regular visitors to the park.
Rogers Pass is a pass through the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia and is one of Glacier National Park’s many historic sites. The site was discovered in May 1881, when Major A.B. Rogers led a party of explorers through it. It was first built out as a rail pass in June 1886, and later became a part of the Trans-Canada Highway in the 1960s.
Today, you can enjoy the natural beauty of Rogers Pass, as well as its history. You can explore the ruins of a stone mountain resort that once housed visitors to the area or eat a picnic lunch among the towering cedars.
You may see black bears and mountain goats on your visit, and you can take a ski tour of the deep powder trails that run through the pass today.
Meeting of the Waters
If you enjoy hiking, you won’t want to miss the amazing views along the Meeting of the Waters trail. This route is about 3.8 miles long and has an elevation gain of just over 1,200 feet. The trail is a loop, making it a good day hike for hikers of all skill levels who may not want to get into backcountry camping.
The Meeting of the Waters trail offers some of the most breathtaking views in Glacier National Park. You’ll be able to hear water rushing around you as you hike through the lush forest.
Park experts recommend you hike this trail sometime between June and October when the weather is still mild enough to make the trail manageable.
Asulkan Valley Trail
If you’re looking for a bit more challenge in your hike, you might want to check out the Asulkan Valley Trail in Glacier National Park.
This trail is a little more than eight miles long and has an elevation gain of 3,169 feet. This trail goes out and back, rather than in a loop, so you’ll need to account for that when planning your hike.
It’s best not to take the Asulkan Valley Trail unless you’re an experienced hiker. The trail is rated as difficult and should only be used between June and October when the weather is relatively warm.
But if you do make the hike, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of mountain ranges, waterfalls, and lush pine forests.
Hemlock Grove Boardwalk Trail
If you like the sound of a hike, but 3,000 feet elevation sounds like a bit much for you, you’ll love the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk Trail. This trail is just a quarter-mile long and has an elevation gain of only 65 feet. It’s set up in a loop, so you can follow the trail and enjoy the scenery without worrying about getting lost.
The boardwalk on this trail makes it easy for even the most novice hikers, and the trail is open for leashed dogs. Like the other trails we’ve mentioned here, this trail is best used between June and October. There may also be seasonal closures, depending on snow melt conditions in certain areas of the park.
Glacier Hotels Canada – Best Ones to Stay At
If you plan to visit Glacier National Park, believe us when we tell you you’ll want to stay longer than just one day. Of course, there are plenty of camping opportunities within the park itself.
But if you prefer someplace with a heater and a shower, there are also several fantastic hotels you can choose from at the park.
Heather Mountain Lodge
Heather Mountain Lodge is located near the East Gate of Glacier National Park. The timber-frame building invokes the classic lodge feel, and the views are hard to beat.
You’ll find the restaurant in the lodge excellent, and you can even enjoy a sauna, hot tub, and your own personal fireplace in your room.
Kinbasket Lake Resort
Kinbasket Lake Resort is a gorgeous place to stay during your visit to Glacier National Park Canada. This campsite sits on a 240-kilometre-long lake in the heart of the park that will give you the most peaceful mornings you could hope for.
You can opt to stay at a serviced or un-serviced campsite or in a self-contained cabin, and all guests have access to hot showers, flush toilets, and sinks.
Ramada Limited Golden
If you’re looking for a more traditional hotel experience, you’ll love staying at the Ramada Limited Golden hotel on Trans Canada Highway 1.
This hotel offers the traditional free continental breakfast, free high-speed internet service, an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a gym. There are tons of restaurants nearby, and you’ll find the prices at this hotel quite affordable.
Glacier National Park Camping
Camping is one of the best ways to experience Glacier National Park, and there are ample opportunities to do so. If you’re interested in front-country camping, you’ll likely want to plan on staying around Rogers Pass. There are three popular campsites there: Illecillewaet, Loop Brook, and Mount Sir Donald.
If you’re more interested in the backcountry side of things, you’ll want to look into staying at Hermit Meadows or the backcountry of Sir Donald.
Both sites are open from July through September and Hermit Meadows has eight available camping spots, while Sir Donald has four. You’ll need a backcountry camping permit, a national park pass, and, in the case of Sir Donald, an overnight parking permit.
Best Times to Visit Glacier National Park
In general, you’ll want to visit Glacier National Park during the warmer months when the weather is milder. Most years, the snow will have melted enough for the park to be enjoyable by early May, and you can continue to enjoy the beauty of the park until the weather cools down in mid-September.
Of course, if you’re interested in skiing, there are plenty of opportunities for that in the colder months.
Glacier National Park tends to get a lot of precipitation, both in the form of snow and rain. Although it’s so far north, it has relatively mild winters for the region, and different areas get between 128 cm and 200 cm of snow on average each year.
Average temperatures range from-7 C in the winter to around 20 C in the summertime.
Plan Your Trip to Glacier National Park Canada Today
Glacier National Park is one of Canada’s most beautiful treasures, offering something for everyone. Whether you like to hike, ski, camp, or just relax by the lake, you can find a gorgeous spot to do it in the park. Plan your visit today and discover the natural beauty that the area has to offer.
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