January 22, 2018

Things To Do in Glacier National Park in Montana in April and May

Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier National Park, Montana

I often assume that people know that Montana gets a lot of snow in the winter, and that it takes many months for it to melt in Glacier National Park.  I have overheard several people talking in Glacier National Park in April and May, saying that they didn’t know that the Going-to-the-Sun Highway was going to be closed, and that they would not be able to reach Logan Pass.  Here is what you need to know to help you plan your spring trip to Montana.

1.  Montana is beautiful in April and May.

The spring is a beautiful time to visit Glacier National Park.  The snow-capped peaks against a blue sky cannot be beat.  Lake McDonald is often calm and still this time of year, making for the perfect photo opportunities.  

2.  Spring weather in Montana is variable, and often chilly.

While we may get some days that are in the 60’s and 70’s Fahrenheit, (particularly as we get closer to June), you can expect extremely variable weather this time of year.  Many days in April it will snow in the morning, and be sunny and warm in the afternoon.  You should pack for cool weather.  This includes rain gear, warm winter coats, hats, gloves, and some lighter spring clothing.  It will not be as warm as it is in the middle of summer, so be prepared for this.

3.  Glacier National Park will NOT be completely open.

Unfortunately, with all of the snow that Glacier National Park receives over the winter, it takes several months to plow the roads and open the entire Going-to-the-Sun Highway over Logan Pass, which connects the east side to the west side of the park.  (You still have the option of driving around to the other side of the park via U.S. Highway 2, but you cannot get very far inside of the park on the east side during this time of year, either.)  

This means you will be limited as to how far you can drive inside of Glacier National Park from the west entrance.  You will be able to drive to Apgar and Lake McDonald, but how far you will get around Lake McDonald depends on how far the snowplows have gotten for the year.  

(As I write this, the road is only open to vehicle traffic to the Lake McDonald Lodge, and the plows have not reached Avalanche Lake Campground for the season yet.)  The Lake McDonald Lodge is nearly all of the way to the opposite end of the lake, and is a beautiful place to stop and see the lake.

You will not be able to reach Logan Pass until June / July, depending on the plowing progress and the amount of snowfall we received for the year.

This also means that depending on when you visit, hiking trails will be limited as well.

4.  Visitor facilities may be limited.

During the summer months of June through early September, you can expect all visitor centers and facilities to be open to visitors.  This is not true during the spring.  You won’t be able to get gas or food in West Glacier, and the visitor center will only be open on weekends until May in Apgar along Lake McDonald.

Therefore, you will want to be sure to plan ahead and bring your own food and water.  Get gas before you drive toward West Glacier.  There is a bathroom open to the public in Apgar. 


Be sure to check out the Glacier National Park Current Road Status Page for the most up-to-date information for your Montana vacation.  


Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,

Alex M. Neill

Montana Vacation Blog


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