June 6, 2023

Glacier Nationwide Park in September is fabulous. The air is crisp, fall colours are beginning to pop, and most significantly, the crowds are starting to skinny. However if you’re pondering of visiting Glacier Nationwide Park this fall, there are additionally many belongings you want to bear in mind to correctly put together in your journey.

Earlier than you e book your journey to Glacier Nationwide Park in September, be sure to learn the following tips! And, don’t simply go to the park, you’ll want to attempt a couple of of those adventurous issues to do close to Glacier Nationwide Park too, or plan one in all these Montana weekend getaways.

Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park
Going-to-the-Solar Highway

Visiting Glacier Nationwide Park in September

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Mid-September is a perfect time to go to Glacier Nationwide Park if you’re seeking to take pleasure in most areas of the park with out massive crowds. Remember that many elements of Glacier Nationwide Park are closed from fall via late spring, because the Going-to-the-Solar Highway usually doesn’t totally open till late June.

Most of the lodges and companies start to close down by mid- to late-September, and Going-to-the-Solar Highway closes by mid- to late-October, relying on the climate. This makes September a real candy spot for visiting Glacier Nationwide Park, particularly when the Aspen and Larch timber begin to present their lovely golden hues. However you continue to should be ready!

In case you need assistance planning a visit to Glacier Nationwide Park, my buddy Bryanna has put collectively a terrific Glacier National Park Guide with 39 pages of stop-by-stop directions, climbing choices by problem degree, eating suggestions, and insider suggestions. It even consists of an alternate RV itinerary for RVers!

1. Know when you want automobile reservations

You’ve in all probability heard that you just want automobile reservations to go to many elements of Glacier Nationwide Park through the summer season. In 2023, a automobile reservation is required for the next areas of the park: Going-to-the-Solar Highway, the North Fork, Two Medication, and Many Glacier. Nonetheless, every location has completely different necessities and requires a separate reservation.

The excellent news is that reservations will not be required after September 10, 2023! However if you’re visiting in early September, maintain the next in thoughts:

  • A Going-to-the-Solar Highway reservation is required for automobiles getting into via the West entrance from Could 26 via September 10, 2023, from 6 am to three pm and people getting into via the St. Mary entrance from July 1 via September 10, 2023, from 6 am to three pm The part of the highway that requires reservations is from the West Entrance Station, Camas Entrance Station, and the Rising Solar checkpoint positioned 6 miles west of the St. Mary Entrance. Reservations are good for 3 consecutive days.
  • Car reservations may be made at Recreation.gov for $2.00.
  • Reservations will likely be obtainable roughly 120 days upfront, utilizing a block-release system beginning at 8 am Mountain Time on February 1, 2023, for Going-to-the-Solar Highway reservations for Could 26 via June 30, 2023. The subsequent block will likely be launched on March 1, 2023, for reservations for July 1 via July 31, 2023. The third block will likely be on April 1, 2023, for reservations from August 1 via August 31 and the ultimate block will likely be obtainable on Could 1, 2023, for reservations will likely be obtainable for all areas for September 1 via September 10, 2023. Any remaining automobile reservations will likely be launched on a rolling foundation at 8 am, 24 hours upfront.
  • Reservations are required you probably have a lodging, tenting, or industrial tour reservation throughout the park.
  • A park go is required along with automobile reservations. You should purchase a each day Glacier Move on the gate ($35 for automobiles) or purchase an America the Beautiful Annual Nationwide Park Move.
  • North Fork automobile reservations, which embody the realm within the northwest nook of the park and all factors east of the Polebridge Entrance Station, are required from Could 26 via September 10, 2023, from 6 am to three pm. These reservations are legitimate for at some point.
  • Reservations for Many Glacier Valley and Two Medication Valley are required from July 1 via September 10, 2023, from 6 am to three pm, and are legitimate for at some point.

If you’re visiting Glacier Nationwide Park earlier than September eleventh, be sure to set a reminder to log in to Recreation.gov as quickly as reservations open in your visitation date. There’s all the time extra demand than availability, and reservations refill in a matter of minutes.

So whereas it’s tempting to attend till after September tenth, while you now not want to fret concerning the problem of getting a automobile reservation, simply remember the fact that many individuals have the identical thought and the park will likely be fairly busy within the days following the top of required reservations.

2. Make the most of alternate transportation

Red Bus tour in Glacier National Park
Purple Bus Tour

If you’re planning on visiting Glacier Nationwide Park in early September and you aren’t capable of safe a automobile reservation, there are nonetheless different methods to benefit from the park. First, you’ll be able to hop on the free park shuttle that makes stops on Going-to-the-Solar Highway.

Simply remember the fact that the shuttle solely operates on a restricted schedule from Labor Day to mid-September and area is out there on a first-come, first-served foundation. In case you make the most of this selection, you’ll want to get to the park early and plan on packing your persistence as you might find yourself ready to seek out an obtainable spot on the shuttle on the numerous stops.

One other method to discover the park with out driving your self is to e book an official bus tour. Xanterra operates the well-known Red Bus Tours using classic Nineteen Thirties pink buses with rolltop convertible tops. These widespread excursions promote out early and every of the 33 buses seats 17 individuals, with 4 throughout bench seating.

Sun Tours additionally provides interpretive excursions that spotlight Blackfeet tradition. There are half-day or full-day excursions that function each day on both sides of the park on air-conditioned 25-passenger window coaches.

3. Go to midweek

Tamara sitting on wall in Glacier National Park

Whereas the group ranges actually drop off in September in comparison with mid-summer, Glacier Nationwide Park stays one of many busiest parks within the nation. If you wish to keep away from crowds, it’s best to go to through the week and take a look at a few of these issues to do exterior of Glacier Nationwide Park, or spend time in close by Whitefish or Kalispell on the weekend.

4. Go early

Logan Pass in Glacier National Park

Like many nationwide parks, the parking heaps at widespread trailheads refill very early. If you wish to beat the crowds, you have to be the early hen that will get the worm. Sure locations equivalent to Logan Move and Avalanche Creek start filling up earlier than dawn and stay busy for many of the day. In September, you should still have the ability to discover parking spots for the Highline Path or Path of the Cedars when you get there earlier than 8 am.

Nonetheless, you have to be ready to spend time in search of an obtainable parking spot. Sadly, when it is rather busy, they gained’t even allow you to circle the lot ready for somebody to go away they usually shut the parking zone completely.

Remember that a few of the hottest hikes within the park, equivalent to Grinnell Glacier, the Highline Path, and Avalanche Lake, all common lots of of hikers per day. So even when you can safe a parking spot, some trails would possibly get a bit congested through the busiest hours in noon.

5. Lodges and eating places begin closing down

Boat on Lake McDonald in Glacier NATIONAL Park

In September, the park lodges and eating places start shutting down so fewer companies can be found all through the park. By late September to early October, the customer facilities additionally shut, though the bogs on the Apgar Customer Heart keep open year-round.

This implies guests should be well-prepared and self-sufficient, bringing their very own meals and requirements. In case you go to in mid-September, you’ll seemingly nonetheless discover meals at Eddie’s Cafe at Apgar and Jammer Joe’s Pizza at Lake McDonald Lodge (however hours could also be restricted.)

With regards to lodging, you should have higher luck staying contained in the park when you go to within the first half of September. In any other case, the lodges shut by late September:

  • Lake McDonald Lodge closes on September twentieth
  • Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins closes on September tenth
  • Many Glacier Lodge closes on September twelfth
  • Rising Solar Motor Inn and Cabins closes on September sixth
  • The Village Inn closes on September twenty fifth

6. Watch out for bears

Baring Falls in Glacier National Park

In September, the wildlife is aware of that winter is coming they usually begin to spend extra time foraging for meals as they put together to enter hibernation. The bears will likely be much more energetic and the elk will likely be in rutting season from mid-September to mid-October.

Which means that you have to be much more cautious when round wildlife. Don’t method wildlife or attempt to feed them. It’s best to solely observe wildlife via binoculars or a telephoto digicam lens. You also needs to carry bear spray and hike in teams. When it’s open, you should buy bear spray on the Apgar Customer Heart or lease it on the Apgar Campground (and return it on the finish of the day.)

7. Be ready for altering climate

Jackson Glacier in Glacier National Park
Jackson Glacier

Once I visited Glacier Nationwide Park in mid-September, the climate was lovely with sunny days and temperatures reaching 70 at decrease elevations. Nonetheless, it has been recognized to snow or sleet in September in Glacier Nationwide Park too. You should be ready for variable temperatures in several sections of the park and climate adjustments all through the day. One of the simplest ways to do that is by dressing in layers and packing rain gear.

8. Convey a picnic

Since lots of the lodges and eating places shut throughout September in Glacier Nationwide Park, it’s best when you convey alongside a picnic in your day. There are various locations alongside the Going-to-the-Solar Highway and at different sections of the park to cease and luxuriate in a picnic whereas taking within the view. Simply bear in mind to look at the rules of Go away No Hint and convey alongside a trash bag to hold every part out, don’t go away meals the place it may very well be eaten by wild animals, and ensure nothing blows away if you are consuming.

9. Fuel up earlier than you go

Road in Glacier National Park

There will not be any gasoline stations inside Glacier Nationwide Park and driving via the park could take extra gasoline than you anticipate as you’re climbing mountains and driving at a sluggish velocity with stop-and-go visitors at factors as a result of congestion. Be sure to gasoline up earlier than getting into the park on the service stations in West Glacier or St. Marys.

10. Guide your automotive and lodging early

Since Glacier Nationwide Park is so widespread, and since lots of the in-park lodges shut in early September, it’s best to e book your lodging nicely upfront. I’d suggest capturing for one 12 months upfront when you hope to remain inside the park, however you’ll be able to all the time maintain checking again to seek for cancellations.

If you’re planning on spending a number of days within the park, you’ll in all probability wish to break up your keep into two areas to make it simpler to get out for these early morning hikes. Attempt to spend 1-2 days in Apgar or Lake McDonald and 1-2 days in Many Glacier.

Lodging within the areas immediately exterior of the park additionally could e book up a couple of months upfront, even in September. If you’re having hassle discovering lodging, there are a lot of massive chain lodges in Kalispell.

I’d additionally suggest reserving your rental automotive early. Whereas automotive rental shortages are easing, there’s nonetheless a restricted stock and also you don’t wish to be left brief.

11. Choose up a park map

Island in lake in Glacier National Park

When visiting a Nationwide Park, I all the time suggest choosing up a park map on the gate and stopping on the Customer Heart to speak to the Park Rangers who could make suggestions on the best way to spend your day. The Park Rangers can warn you to bear exercise and the most effective hikes and viewpoints in your desired exercise degree.

It is usually useful to have a map to trace your progress alongside the Going-to-the-Solar Highway and just remember to don’t miss the highlights.

12. Be ready for little to no cell service

When you enter the park, you should have very restricted cell service. The good a part of that’s that you just gained’t have something to distract you from the gorgeous environment. The draw back is that you just gained’t have the ability to get in contact with anybody in case of an emergency. If you’re climbing or heading to a few of the lesser-visited areas, such because the lonely, bumpy gravel highway into Two Medication, you might wish to think about bringing a transportable GPS locator such because the Garmin InReach device.

13. See the autumn colours

The timber in Glacier Nationwide Park begin to change by mid to late September. The attractive Western Larch timber, which flip a phenomenal yellow earlier than the needles drop, are the final to show by mid-October. A great spot to see the larch timber is alongside Freeway 2, which runs alongside the southern border of the park.

14. What to put on in Glacier Nationwide Park

Tamara at the edge of Lake McDonald

As I discussed beforehand, it is very important gown in layers when you’re visiting Glacier Nationwide Park in September. I’d suggest:

  • Waterproof climbing boots (I really like my La Sportivas)
  • Wool climbing socks (I all the time use Darn Robust Socks)
  • Fast-drying climbing pants
  • A sweat-wicking t-shirt
  • Lengthy-sleeve button-up climbing shirt
  • Skinny fleece
  • Waterproof shell or gentle puffer coat
  • Solar hat or baseball cap

15. What to pack in your day pack

Be sure to are ready in your days in Glacier Nationwide Park by packing the next, particularly when you plan on doing any hikes:

  • Bear spray
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Emergency equipment
  • Raingear
  • Heat hat
  • Skinny gloves
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Tissues
  • Sanitizer
  • Trekking poles (I really like my Black Diamond trekking poles)
  • GPS tracker
  • Compass
  • Battery backup
  • Headlamp
  • Digital camera or telephone

16. How you can get to Glacier Nationwide Park

Reflection of clouds on Lake McDonald

Glacier Nationwide Park is in Northwestern Montana, abutting the border with Canada and bridging the Continental Divide. The closest airport to Glacier Nationwide Park is Glacier Park Airport (FCA) close to Kalispell, which is 40 minutes south of the park. Nonetheless, it might be simpler to seek out extra reasonably priced flight choices to Missoula Montana Airport (MSO), which is about 2.75 hours to the south.

You’ll want to lease a automotive when visiting Glacier Nationwide Park. Even when you can’t get automobile reservations throughout the park, you’ll want to have a automotive to get to eating places and different sights.

17. The place to remain close to Glacier Nationwide Park

In case you can’t get a room or campsite in Glacier Nationwide Park, you’ll in all probability wish to focus your search on the realm round West Glacier. If you’re keen to drive a littler additional, I had keep on the Homewood Suites in Kalispell.

You at the moment are all set to have a wonderful go to to Glacier Nationwide Park in September. If you’re driving the Going-to-the-Solar Highway and making a spherical journey from both West Glacier or St. Marys, you’ll want to go away your self time to make the return journey. If you wish to keep away from the congestion on Going-to-the-Solar Highway, you’ll be able to loop again across the park. Whereas this will take you simply as lengthy, you gained’t have any visitors to take care of. I hope you’ve a unbelievable journey to Glacier Nationwide Park!

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Glacier National Park in September travel tips

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