January 23, 2018

Glacier Park Boat Company Boat Tour in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

We recently took the boat tour provided by the Glacier Park Boat Company in Many Glacier, in Glacier National Park, Montana.

The tour includes two tours: one of Swiftcurrent Lake, and a second tour of Lake Josephine.

Not only do these boats provide fun tours of these lakes, but they also provide access to many trails, including the Grinnell Glacier and Grinnell Lake hikes.

You should plan on booking your boat tickets in advance, or as soon as possible.  You can call the Glacier Park Boat Company at (406) 257-2426 to try to book in advance.

We couldn’t reach the company the evening before, so we went straight to the boat dock at the Many Glacier Hotel as soon as we got there.  The boat dock is where you will purchase your tickets. 

You can reach the boat dock by heading through the main lobby of the Many Glacier Hotel.  There is a door outside onto the deck straight through the lobby.  Go through that door, and around the corner to your right, you will take a (very) steep set of stairs down to get over to the boat dock.

They do start wait lists — so if the time you want is full, ask to be placed on the wait list.  You will have to show up at that time, but you will most likely make it on that boat.  We wait listed and made it on the 11:00 a.m. boat, like we wanted.

Swiftcurrent Lake

Swiftcurrent Lake

You should arrive at the dock ten minutes before your departure.  There is plenty of seating, and you will be provided with jokes, lots of interesting information about the boat company, the wooden boats you are on, and the surrounding glaciers and mountains.  I think I learned more about the Many Glacier area than I have ever heard before.  It was very interesting, and fun. 

These boats have been operating for a LONG time!!

Enjoying the Swiftcurrent Lake Boat Tour

Enjoying the Swiftcurrent Lake Boat Tour

As you cross Swiftcurrent Lake, you will have nice views of not only the surrounding mountains and Swiftcurrent Valley, but you will also have a nice view of the Many Glacier Hotel.

Looking toward the Many Glacier Hotel, from Swiftcurrent Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana, Copyright Montana Vacation Blog

Many Glacier Hotel

You will have to get off of the boat at the end of Swiftcurrent Lake, and take a short hike over to load another boat on Lake Josephine.

The trail between Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, Glacier National Park

The trail between Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, Glacier National Park

How hard is the short hike (I think a distance of 0.2 miles) to get from the dock at Swiftcurrent Lake up to the dock at Lake Josephine?  The Glacier Park Boat Company states that this is a strenuous hike.  It absolutely depends on what kind of shape you are in, but I didn’t think it was strenuous.  It is a short hill that goes up and then down to Lake Josephine.  I think that anyone can handle it if they just take their time.  The next boat will wait for you.

Lake Josephine was my favorite lake.  So beautiful, and a gorgeous green color thanks to the surrounding glaciers above, that grind the rock beneath it, giving lakes that the water flows into a turquoise color.

KEEP IN MIND: The glaciers are melting!!! Yes, this is very sad.  I had originally heard that they would all be gone by 2030.  Now I have heard that they will be gone by 2020.  My point?  GET HERE NOW.  Once the glaciers are melted, not only will you no longer see the glaciers, but these lakes will no longer be this stunning color.

On the Lake Josephine hike, you will also learn about Triple Divide Peak: where two of the principal continental divides in North America converge.  What this means is that the water from here flows into three bodies of water: waters flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean via the Gulf of Mexico, and the Arctic Ocean via Hudson Bay.  This is considered the hydrological apex of North America.

The boat tour across Lake Josephine, Glacier National Park, Montana, Copyright Montana Vacation Blog

Boat tour across Lake Josephine

Neither of the lakes is very deep.  If you would rather bring up your canoe, you can paddle upstream at the end of Swiftcurrent Lake, that will lead you up to Lake Josephine.

If you are not getting off to hike, you will remain on the boat at the end of Lake Josephine and return back to the Many Glacier Hotel.

If you are planning on hiking: once you get to the head of Lake Josephine, you will unload from the boat.  **BE SURE if you are hiking to get a BLUE TICKET.  This ticket is your return ticket to get on the boats on the way back.***

The blue ticket will give you the return times that the boat will be sure to have room for hikers.  When we were there, the return times in the afternoon were 11:45, 2:45, 3:45, and 5:15 …. but, please always be sure to check the ticket before you start hiking, to be sure that you catch a return boat.  (*The 11:45 and the 5:15 boats make multiple trips to make sure to get everyone at those times.)  If you miss the boats, you will be walking the 5 miles back to Many Glacier. 

Video from the tour of Swiftcurrent Lake in Many Glacier:


Video from the tour of Lake Josephine in Many Glacier:

In the Many Glacier area, these boat tours are offered several times throughout the day, beginning at 8:30 a.m.  The 8:30 a.m. boat includes the Grinnell Glacier ranger-led hike, and the 2:00 p.m. boat includes the Grinnell Lake hike ranger-led hike.

For the KIDS: Grab your kid a “Passport” and a free postcard from the hut where you bought your tickets on your way off the boat at Many Glacier Hotel.

The Glacier Park Boat Company also offers these boat tours at other locations throughout Glacier National Park, including Apgar, Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, and Two Medicine.  They also rent kayaks, canoes, and rowboats.

The Swiftcurrent and Grinnell Valleys are a truly special place, and these boat tours are a great way to experience the beauty and history of the area in Glacier National Park.

Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,

Alex M. Neill

Montana Vacation Blog



Fees for the boat tour: (2013 prices)

$24.25 Adults

$12.00 Children 4 – 12

Free for children under 4

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