Glacier National Park Road Trip from Portland Itinerary
Planning a Glacier National Park road trip from Portland? Take your time sightseeing and show the kids the countryside as you make the trek to Montana. This fun family road trip can be done in a long weekend or stay a few days to play. Here’s our must-see and do activities to add to your Glacier National Park road trip itinerary.
Portland to Glacier Trip Duration
From start to finish you would be looking at about 10 hours on the road. But who just wants to sit in the car for 10 hours? Even with the help of technology for the kids. These are the days, remember taking road trips growing up? Your weird car games to pass the time or asking your parents a million questions about everything under the sun?
Hopefully this blog will give you some ideas to stretch your legs along the way so maybe the “are we there yet?” questions are less and you can enjoy that good ol fashion All-American road trip.
Scenic Stops on Your Glacier National Park Road Trip
As you leave Portland you will drive along the Columbia River and while you are enjoying all the lush greenery that Oregon has to offer, you need to make your first stop at the Vista House and view the Columbia River Gorge. The Vista House is not only cool with its 1917 stone architecture and octagon shape, it also sits about 750’ above the Columbia River and gives you wonderful 360 views of the river and Columbia River Gorge.
Multnomah Falls is also a must-stop along the way. This is not only a 620’ breathtaking waterfall, it also holds the title as one of the state’s most popular landmarks. This year-round waterfall is beautiful in any season. Not only do you NOT wanna miss this, but it’s definitely hard not to miss it. Just look for exit 31 on the left-hand side off I84. Yep you read that right, it is off the left-hand side of the interstate.
As you continue on down the road you will notice a drastic change in landscape and yes, you are still going in the right direction. One of your next major cities you will come upon is the Tri-Cities consisting of Pasco, Richland and Kennewick. There are a lot of options for food and goodies within the Tri-Cities but we recommend Hubby’s Pizza. I mean who can go wrong with pizza but did I mention they even have an arcade?!? If you’re just looking for a snack or maybe a little treat you can check out Country Mercantile Store while you’re passing through. They have tons of homemade treats and goodies to fill that sweet tooth craving.
Palouse Falls along the Snake River is also a cool spot! Carved out 13,000 years ago, it is one of the last active waterfalls from the Ice Age floods path. You can either admire the beauty of the falls from above or you can take a little walk down near the falls itself.
Spokane will be your next big town. There are lots of lodging and dining options and a downtown area to walk around. Riverfront Park has always been one of my favorite places to stop at. There is plenty to do here including trails to walk along, skyrides in gondolas, playground equipment and we cannot forget the famous HUGE radio flyer wagon slide! Tickets are available for purchase once you arrive for all the attractions and activities the park has to offer your crew. You may even plan it just right to spend a night in Spokane and you can watch the light show.
If you chose to motor past Spokane, Coeur d’Alene is a beautiful area to stop as well. You can take a boat tour on Lake Coeur d’Alene, explore the shops in its downtown area. There are lots of food and lodging options here as well. Maybe you will even decide to yell FORE! And play a round of golf at Coeur d’Alene Resort. Right up the road from Coeur d’Alene on Hwy US 95 you will find Silverwood theme park. This place is LOADED with family FUN! They have rides and slides between the theme park and the water park. It is fun for all here!
A Fork in the Road: Scenic or Time-saving?
Now you’re gonna have to flip a coin to see which way you wanna explore on your way to Glacier. This blog is gonna keep you going back to I90 and continuing to Glacier this way, but you can check out our Spokane to Glacier National Park itinerary that will help you explore the way to Glacier via the Yaak, Troy, Libby and the Kootenai area.
Wallace, ID is a fun town that you will drive right over on I90 but I definitely feel you should make the stop! This town was created due to the mining boom in 1884 and is still full of life and character today! Make sure you go to the corner of Bank St and 6th St. Why? Because that is the Center of the Universe and when you drive by the Center of the Universe…you most definitely stop and take a picture and maybe even take a mining tour? The world is your oyster.
Your journey along I90 ends at St. Regis but the fun and beauty does not! Get some fuel, take a bathroom break, and check out the gift shop and trout aquarium. Onwards from St. Regis there is miles and miles of country to see, keep your eyes peeled for some wildlife and more importantly keep them peeled for signs for a few hot springs along the way. You will first come across Quinn’s Hot Springs which is amazing and tons of pools to soak in but book early cause they book up fast- Even if you just wanna soak! Also in the town of Hot Springs is Symes Hot Springs and Wild Horse Hot Springs. These ones are a bit more off the beaten trail and more natural (especially Wild Horse Hot Springs) but just as hot.
What’s the biggest body of water West of the Mississippi River you ask? Well that would be Flathead Lake and you will be going right along the shore of it! You will stick closer to the shoreline if you venture through Polson and come up the East Shore of Flathead Lake but the quickest route is heading up the West Shore of the lake.
Once you reach Big Fork or Kalispell you have officially made it to the Flathead Valley!! You are just a hop, skip and a zip from Glacier National Park. Wait…a hop, skip and zip..? Well that’s of course the case after you book your zipline and aerial adventure passes! Glacier Highline is on the final stretch on your way to the gates of Glacier. Make sure you reserve your fun at Glacier Highline while you are in the area, and pick up some snacks before you hit the trails in Glacier!
Bringing the whole crew with you? View our Family Guide to Glacier to make the most of your next trip.