What to do in West Glacier: Your Guide to West Glacier, Montana
For those of us that live near here, West Glacier, Montana, is sometimes passed over as a small town you drive through near the West Entrance to Glacier National Park. This small town offers many opportunities for visitors to enjoy, besides the fact that it is the gateway into the stunning national park. Here are some main things you should know while planning your stay:
1. Where to Eat and Stay
There are a few small stores in West Glacier to purchase food items. The West Glacier Restaurant is a great family-friendly, casual dining place to stop for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can also buy souvenirs and gifts, and they have delicious ice cream. Be sure to try a huckleberry milkshake, or a slice of their homemade pie! (Expect there to be a line for ice cream in the middle of the afternoon!)
The Belton Chalet is well-known — while the prices may be more than some want to spend, it is worth the money. The chalet offers fine dining, and your choice of lodging. Located on the outer edge of West Glacier, you can hardly miss this beautifully restored lodge. The Belton closes temporarily in the fall, and then reopens for the winter season in December. They offer specials if you are visiting during the winter months.
Just a mile outside of West Glacier, you will find the Great Northern Whitewater Raft and Resort. They offer affordable prices, and awesome cabins that can sleep several people. This is a great option for families. The staff is so nice, and you can book a rafting trip with them as well! Their cabins are cozy, and offer private balconies for grilling, and an outdoor fire pit to enjoy the starry nights by their pond.
The West Glacier Motel and Cabins offer extremely affordable rates, but I have not personally stayed here, so I can’t give more information from experience.
Of course, there is also the option of camping. You can camp in nearby Apgar, just inside of Glacier National Park, or head west on Highway 2 to the West Glacier KOA. There is also the option of the Lake 5 Resort just outside of West Glacier. The Lake 5 Resort also offers cabins.
2. What to Do
a. Alberta Tourist Information Center. This mini-museum is on your right after you turn into West Glacier. This is a great place to look at their many exhibits. They also have nice restrooms you may want to use before you enter Glacier National Park. Although I still can’t quite understand why there is an Alberta Tourist Information Center in Montana, I have been told this is because of the Waterton Lakes National Park that connects with Glacier National Park along the Canadian border. Nonetheless, they can provide a lot of information that you may need.
b. The Flathead River. West Glacier sits right on the edge of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. If taking an evening stroll across the bridge to take photos isn’t enough, there are many opportunities for fishing and white water rafting. You can also swim here, but remember, the water is too high and dangerous in the spring, and is very low by fall. Because the water is cold, you won’t find too many people swimming here.
c. Glacier National Park. West Glacier is the gateway to the west side of Glacier National Park. Just down the road is the famous Lake McDonald, and Apgar Village.
d. Helicopter tours of Glacier National Park. Just outside of West Glacier, there are companies along Highway 2 that offer helicopter tours of the beautiful park. You will easily find them, as they have the helicopter pads out front along the highway. I haven’t been fortunate enough to do a helicopter tour myself, but I have seen many photos and videos from friends, and it absolutely looks like it is worth the money. Hopefully someday I will be lucky enough to take a flight, and share it with you.
e. Outdoor activities. There are a lot of hiking trails that are easily accessible from town, most of them requiring just a short drive. In the winter, you can book snowmobile tours, and Glacier National Park offers free guided snowshoe tours (usually on Saturdays) in Apgar.
f. Golf. The beautiful golf courses in the nearby Flathead Valley are easily accessible if you are up to a short drive. But West Glacier has its own golf course — the Glacier View Golf Course, just outside of West Glacier.
g. Amazing Fun Center in nearby Coram on Highway 2 East. If you are looking for a break from sightseeing for the day, or are searching for an activity for your kids, the Amazing Fun Center is what you are looking for. The center offers a large maze to find your way through, a mini golf course, go-karts, a small basketball court area, and bumper boats. I loved this center when I was growing up. But keep in mind the center offers very little shade, so I wouldn’t visit in the heat of the day.
h. Stop for an “old-time” photo at the Glacier Photo. You can’t miss the Glacier Photo building on your right as you head toward Glacier National Park just before you cross the bridge. If you have always wanted to get one of this pictures done, be sure to stop by to take advantage of their accessories! If you have the time, they also offer Glacier National Park photo workshops.
3. This is a seasonal area.
West Glacier becomes a ghost town in the fall and winter. Sometime around the end of September, the stores close, and the gas pumps do not pump gas (I know this from experience!), so be sure to get gas before you get here. You can get gas in Hungry Horse, or Coram, Montana, just before West Glacier. The stores will reopen in early May.
Please note in the comments anything you want to add about West Glacier, to be sure the readers know all of the information they need while visiting! Take a moment to stop and enjoy the small town of West Glacier, Montana, even if you are just passing through.
Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Alex M. Neill
Montana Vacation Blog