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 stuff you want to remember to correctly put together to your journey.
Earlier than you e book your journey to Glacier Nationwide Park in September, ensure you learn the following pointers! And, don’t simply go to the park, remember to strive a couple of of those adventurous issues to do close to Glacier Nationwide Park too, or plan one in every of these Montana weekend getaways.
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 trying to get pleasure from most areas of the park with out massive crowds. Understand that many components of Glacier Nationwide Park are closed from fall by means of late spring, because the Going-to-the-Solar Highway usually doesn’t absolutely open till late June.
Lots 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 bushes begin to present their stunning golden hues. However you continue to have to be ready!
When you need assistance planning a visit to Glacier Nationwide Park, my good friend Bryanna has put collectively a terrific Glacier National Park Guide with 39 pages of stop-by-stop directions, mountaineering choices by problem stage, eating suggestions, and insider suggestions. It even consists of an alternate RV itinerary for RVers!
1. Know in case you want car reservations
You could have in all probability heard that you just want car reservations to go to many components of Glacier Nationwide Park through the summer season. In 2023, a car 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, preserve the next in thoughts:
- A Going-to-the-Solar Highway reservation is required for automobiles coming into by means of the West entrance from Could 26 by means of September 10, 2023, from 6 am to three pm and people coming into by means of the St. Mary entrance from July 1 by means of September 10, 2023, from 6 am to three pm The part of the street that requires reservations is from the West Entrance Station, Camas Entrance Station, and the Rising Solar checkpoint situated 6 miles west of the St. Mary Entrance. Reservations are good for 3 consecutive days.
- Automobile reservations may be made at Recreation.gov for $2.00.
- Reservations will probably be accessible roughly 120 days prematurely, 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 by means of June 30, 2023. The subsequent block will probably be launched on March 1, 2023, for reservations for July 1 by means of July 31, 2023. The third block will probably be on April 1, 2023, for reservations from August 1 by means of August 31 and the ultimate block will probably be accessible on Could 1, 2023, for reservations will probably be accessible for all areas for September 1 by means of September 10, 2023. Any remaining car reservations will probably be launched on a rolling foundation at 8 am, 24 hours prematurely.
- Reservations are required if in case you have a lodging, tenting, or business tour reservation throughout the park.
- A park go is required along with car reservations. You should buy a each day Glacier Cross on the gate ($35 for automobiles) or purchase an America the Beautiful Annual Nationwide Park Cross.
- North Fork car reservations, which embrace the world within the northwest nook of the park and all factors east of the Polebridge Entrance Station, are required from Could 26 by means of September 10, 2023, from 6 am to three pm. These reservations are legitimate for sooner or later.
- Reservations for Many Glacier Valley and Two Medication Valley are required from July 1 by means of September 10, 2023, from 6 am to three pm, and are legitimate for sooner or later.
If you’re visiting Glacier Nationwide Park earlier than September eleventh, ensure you set a reminder to log in to Recreation.gov as quickly as reservations open to your visitation date. There’s all the time extra demand than availability, and reservations replenish in a matter of minutes.
So whereas it’s tempting to attend till after September tenth, whenever you not want to fret concerning the problem of getting a car reservation, simply remember that many individuals have the identical thought and the park will probably be fairly busy within the days following the tip of required reservations.
2. Make the most of alternate transportation
If you’re planning on visiting Glacier Nationwide Park in early September and you aren’t in a position to safe a car reservation, there are nonetheless different methods to benefit from the park. First, you may hop on the free park shuttle that makes stops on Going-to-the-Solar Highway.
Simply remember that the shuttle solely operates on a restricted schedule from Labor Day to mid-September and house is out there on a first-come, first-served foundation. When you make the most of this feature, 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 accessible spot on the shuttle on the numerous stops.
One other solution 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 Thirties purple buses with rolltop convertible tops. These widespread excursions promote out early and every of the 33 buses seats 17 folks, with 4 throughout bench seating.
Sun Tours additionally gives interpretive excursions that spotlight Blackfeet tradition. There are half-day or full-day excursions that function each day on either side of the park on air-conditioned 25-passenger window coaches.
3. Go to midweek
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 check out 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
Like many nationwide parks, the parking tons at widespread trailheads replenish very early. If you wish to beat the crowds, you might want to be the early chook that will get the worm. Sure locations reminiscent of Logan Cross and Avalanche Creek start filling up earlier than dawn and stay busy for a lot of the day. In September, you should still be capable to discover parking spots for the Highline Path or Path of the Cedars in case you get there earlier than 8 am.
Nonetheless, you might want to be ready to spend time in search of an accessible parking spot. Sadly, when it is extremely busy, they gained’t even allow you to circle the lot ready for somebody to depart they usually shut the parking zone solely.
Understand that a few of the hottest hikes within the park, reminiscent of Grinnell Glacier, the Highline Path, and Avalanche Lake, all common lots of of hikers per day. So even in case you can safe a parking spot, some trails may get a bit of congested through the busiest hours in noon.
5. Lodges and eating places begin closing down
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 loos on the Apgar Customer Heart keep open year-round.
This implies guests have to be well-prepared and self-sufficient, bringing their very own meals and requirements. When you go to in mid-September, you’ll possible nonetheless discover meals at Eddie’s Cafe at Apgar and Jammer Joe’s Pizza at Lake McDonald Lodge (however hours could also be restricted.)
In relation to lodging, you should have higher luck staying contained in the park in case 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 Resort 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
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 probably be much more energetic and the elk will probably be in rutting season from mid-September to mid-October.
Because of this you might want to be much more cautious when round wildlife. Don’t strategy wildlife or attempt to feed them. It’s best to solely observe wildlife by means of binoculars or a telephoto digital camera lens. You must also carry bear spray and hike in teams. When it’s open, you should purchase bear spray on the Apgar Customer Heart or hire it on the Apgar Campground (and return it on the finish of the day.)
7. Be ready for altering climate
Once I visited Glacier Nationwide Park in mid-September, the climate was stunning with sunny days and temperatures reaching 70 at decrease elevations. Nonetheless, it has been identified to snow or sleet in September in Glacier Nationwide Park too. You could 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. Carry a picnic
Since most of the lodges and eating places shut throughout September in Glacier Nationwide Park, it’s best in case you carry alongside a picnic to 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 keep in mind to watch the ideas of Depart No Hint and convey alongside a trash bag to hold every part out, don’t depart meals the place it may very well be eaten by wild animals, and ensure nothing blows away while you’re consuming.
9. Fuel up earlier than you go
There will not be any fuel stations within Glacier Nationwide Park and driving by means of the park could take extra fuel than you anticipate as you’re climbing mountains and driving at a gradual pace with stop-and-go site visitors at factors because of congestion. Be sure to fuel up earlier than coming into the park on the service stations in West Glacier or St. Marys.
10. E-book your automotive and lodging early
Since Glacier Nationwide Park is so widespread, and since most of the in-park lodges shut in early September, it’s best to e book your lodging effectively prematurely. I’d advocate capturing for one 12 months prematurely in case you hope to remain within the park, however you may all the time preserve 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 instantly exterior of the park additionally could e book up a couple of months prematurely, even in September. If you’re having bother discovering lodging, there are lots of massive chain lodges in Kalispell.
I’d additionally advocate 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 quick.
11. Choose up a park map
When visiting a Nationwide Park, I all the time advocate 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 right way to spend your day. The Park Rangers can provide you with a warning to bear exercise and the very best hikes and viewpoints to your desired exercise stage.
It’s also useful to have a map to trace your progress alongside the Going-to-the-Solar Highway and just be sure you 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 great 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 be capable to get in contact with anybody in case of an emergency. If you’re mountaineering or heading to a few of the lesser-visited areas, such because the lonely, bumpy gravel street 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 bushes in Glacier Nationwide Park begin to change by mid to late September. The attractive Western Larch bushes, which flip a fantastic yellow earlier than the needles drop, are the final to show by mid-October. A great place to see the larch bushes is alongside Freeway 2, which runs alongside the southern border of the park.
14. What to put on in Glacier Nationwide Park
As I discussed beforehand, you will need to costume in layers if you end up visiting Glacier Nationwide Park in September. I’d advocate:
- Waterproof mountaineering boots (I really like my La Sportivas)
- Wool mountaineering socks (I all the time use Darn Robust Socks)
- Fast-drying mountaineering pants
- A sweat-wicking t-shirt
- Lengthy-sleeve button-up mountaineering 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 to your days in Glacier Nationwide Park by packing the next, particularly in case you plan on doing any hikes:
- Bear spray
- Emergency package
- Heat hat
- Skinny gloves
- Bug spray
- Lip balm
- Trekking poles (I really like my Black Diamond trekking poles)
- GPS tracker
- Battery backup
- Digital camera or cellphone
16. The right way to get to Glacier Nationwide Park
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 could be simpler to seek out extra inexpensive flight choices to Missoula Montana Airport (MSO), which is about 2.75 hours to the south.
You’ll want to hire a automotive when visiting Glacier Nationwide Park. Even in case you can’t get car 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
When you can’t get a room or campsite in Glacier Nationwide Park, you’ll in all probability wish to focus your search on the world round West Glacier. If you’re prepared to drive a littler additional, I had a superb 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, remember to depart your self time to make the return journey. If you wish to keep away from the congestion on Going-to-the-Solar Highway, you may loop again across the park. Whereas this may increasingly take you simply as lengthy, you gained’t have any site visitors to take care of. I hope you’ve got a implausible journey to Glacier Nationwide Park!