Explore Glacier Park’s backcountry
Glacier National Park offers a wide variety of skiing opportunities in winter, but folks have to “earn their turns” here.
Most of the Park’s roads are not plowed in winter, providing a ready trail for cross-country skiing or access for longer trips in the Park’s interior.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is plowed from the West Entrance through Apgar to the bridge over Lower McDonald Creek and around the east side of the lake to Lake McDonald Lodge. From the lodge, they can continue skiing up to Avalanche Creek or farther.
Visitors can ski up the Camas Road into the North Fork country, turn right to Fish Creek Campground, continue along the west shore of Lake McDonald to Rocky Point, a round-trip of about five miles, or ski south along Lower McDonald Creek and across Quarter Circle Bridge, following easy terrain for a two-to-three mile round-trip.
Road-skiing is also available up the North Fork, starting from the Polebridge entrance station. The trip to Bowman Lake is about 12 miles round-trip. Skiers can also head up the Inside Road for views of Big Prairie or continue on to Kintla Lake.
For trail skiers who want a taste of alpine vistas, the Autumn Creek Trail is a popular area. Skiers must cross the railroad tracks at Marias Pass to access Glacier Park. The trail continues west below Little Dog and Elk mountains and returns to U.S. 2 about six miles below the pass.
The east side of the Park also offers a wide variety of skiing opportunities, especially the Two Medicine and St. Mary areas, but skiers need to be ready for strong winds that might leave trails bare of snow.
The round-trip distance from the Looking Glass Highway four miles north of East Glacier to the Park boundary on the Two Medicine Road is about six miles round-trip. The trip to Running Eagle Falls is about 10 miles and to Two Medicine Lake about 16 miles.
At St. Mary, skiers will find rolling hills of aspen, meadows and mixed-conifer stands on the east side of the lake. Round-trip distances from the road at St. Mary are one mile for Lion Loop, 2.5 miles for Eagle Loop and 3.5 miles for Elk Loop. Longer trips can be made along St. Mary Lake.
Some regions of Glacier are closed to public access in winter to protect winter elk, deer and moose herds. Those areas are usually posted with signs at trailheads, but it’s a good idea to check with the Park before venturing out.
For more information, visit online at www.nps.gov/glac or call 888-7800.