Your Guide to Transportation in Glacier National Park: Shuttles, Driving, Biking & More
Welcome to Glacier National Park, a breathtaking wilderness paradise nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. As you plan your adventure, it’s important to know your options for getting around–like the Glacier National Park shuttle or other transportation in Glacier. In this guide, we’ll cover the different ways to get around the park, so you can make the most of your visit. Whether you enjoy hiking, driving, biking, or using the park’s shuttle services, we’ve got you covered. So buckle up and get ready to explore the wonders of Glacier National Park with ease and convenience.
There are lots of ways to travel within the gates of Glacier. Miles and miles to explore on foot, and beauty to be found on every trail. When you are hiking make sure you are preparing yourself with a lot of water, food and make sure you pack along bear spray as well. Keeping on the trail and not meandering off is also very important and to always keep in mind the trail status. Our trail crews work very hard to maintain those trails and keep us all safe so we can enjoy the scenery in Glacier. You will find a lot of the trail heads starting on the East side of the park, make sure you are accounting that into your planning and mapping out how and when you will arrive at the trailhead and at what time you need to start your hike by. To aid in transportation in Glacier, the park has implemented a shuttling system if that works best for your day’s adventure–just be mindful of the pick up time and make sure you can make it back before the last shuttle of the day.
Road Access and Conditions
Going To The Sun Road is the main attraction in Glacier for most people. They travel far and wide to come experience this famous landmark. It also is the easiest way to get from the West side to the East side of Glacier. Highway 2 would be your alternative route in the Summer months and the only route during the off-season so make sure the road will be open when you plan to travel.
Scenic Drives and View Points
I can assure you that you will not run out of things to look at while you are here but some places will not have the best places to pull over. Please make sure whenever you are exploring that you are mindful of the flow of traffic and of course the safety of your group and others before you decide to pull off the road. If driving is your chosen mode of transportation in Glacier, a few of the major must stops include: The Loop, Big Bend, Oberlin Bend Overlook, Logan Pass Visitor Center, Wild Goose Island. These are all great places to get out and take pictures, stretch your legs, enjoy the views along Going To the Sun Road. Make sure you leave yourself time to check out the Visitors Centers, Apgar Village, Lake McDonald Lodge and if you make the trek to St. Mary and Two Medicine is also worth it! ….I mean when in “Rome”…am I right?
Bike-Friendly Trails and Paths
Biking is allowed in Glacier, but there are restrictions. You will see the most biker traffic in the early parts of the season where there are still vehicle traveling restrictions due to plowing operations. Review all the biking rules before you set out on your adventure.
Rentals and Equipment
There are lots of places to rent bikes and e-bikes to enjoy Glacier here in the area. We suggest our friends at Montana Raft/ Glacier Guides for all your bike and e-bike rental needs! Make sure you reserve your pedals early!
Glacier National Park Shuttle Services
There are a few ways to sit back and enjoy Glacier while you let someone else do the driving. Glacier provides a free shuttle service with multiple stops between Apgar and St. Mary. This is a first come, first serve shuttle. For the most up-to-date information, view their website.
Another shuttle option is a per-way fare offered from Pursuit. This shuttle is booked in person at the concierge desk and shuttle reservations are first come first served. The East side shuttles are offered with a small fare while the National Park Shuttle is free of charge. Visit their website to view more information.
My favorite shuttle system is the famous Red Bus Tour. Embark on the Going-To-The- Sun Road aboard a famous 1930’s red jammer bus. These bus rides provide a whole experience. Listen to all of Glacier’s history while you can see landscapes you have never seen before. One of the coolest features of these tours are the busses roll back tops so if the weather is just right, you can really see those mountain peaks! Make sure you pack a jacket as you may get chilly in the convertible headed up to Logan Pass. These tours must be booked early and dang those seats go fast so make your booking today! There are a few tour options to choose from. Make sure you make some Glacier memories from the seat of a Red Bus Tour!
Tips for a Smooth Transportation Experience
Reservations & Permits
You will always need a vehicle pass while you are exploring Glacier National Park. During certain times of the Summer you will also need an additional Going-To-The- Sun Road Vehicle Ticket as well. Most of these tickets are released a certain amount of days ahead of time, with a final batch of tickets for that day being released 24 hours in advance.These tickets are good for 3 days (other entrances into Glacier have different timelines so check which gate you are needing a ticket for) If you don’t get one ahead of time you still have options to see Glacier. After 3pm you WILL NOT need the extra ticket so you can go and explore after that if you can’t snag a ticket. One great thing about MT Summers are the days are long, you will have daylight till about 9-10PM so you still have plenty of time to just drive around and explore after the 3pm timeframe when you do not need that additional ticket.
Every year since they have implemented the ticketing system they have made a few tweaks to it so this information is based off the rules for the 2023 season so if you are planning to travel here after 2023 make sure you check Glacier’s website to get up to date on any changes that may have occurred.
Our weather can change at any moment and you will experience different conditions in different altitudes so we always suggest light layers so you can adjust as needed throughout your adventures.
It is important to always be prepared when you are out in Glacier. Make sure you have your bear spray and it is property stowed away throughout your adventures and accessible when you may need it. If you are driving, make sure you have plenty of fuel before you head off on an adventure as there is no fuel in the Park. Pack snacks and also some extra layers as you never know what you will run into when you are out there. Remember: Pack it in, pack it out. Keep Glacier beautiful!
Additional Resources and Services
Apgar, Logan Pass and St. Mary visitor centers are great places to obtain lots of different facts, knowledge and current updates within Glacier. They are all worth making the stop at. If you’re traveling with kids, make sure you check out the Jr. Ranger Program that Glacier offers. It is a great way to keep kids engaged and entertained in Glacier!
Guided Tours and Activities
Glacier Highline is a great family activity and a great way to burn off the pent-up energy of kiddos after days of travel in and around Glacier. We are also a great post hiking reward. Keep those kids motivated on the trail with a few hours spent at Glacier Highline’s aerial ropes course!
White Water Rafting is another very popular activity to sign up for when you visit. Enjoy the whitewater or scenic stretches of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. There are a few companies to choose from when you are shopping. Don’t be overwhelmed, all of the companies are great! We are partnered with Wild River and Glacier Raft Company and offer our Park N Paddle combo pack. This package gives you a full adventure pass at Glacier Highline and a ½ day whitewater or scenic raft trip. Talk about a day of FUN!
Don’t forget to stop by one of West Glacier’s restaurants, the Tower Grill. Loaded with quick bites, casual dinning, and sweet teas, there is something for everyone to enjoy.