Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park and Why
The best time to visit Glacier National Park is basic for the memorable tour. Dubbed as the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem,” the pristine and gigantic Glaciar National Park park options elements of three mountain ranges, over 130 lakes, a various assortment of various species of vegetation (about 1,000 species) in addition to quite a few animals.
Glacier National Park is a well-liked vacationer vacation spot in North America.In this article, I am going to discuss about the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
Fashioned about 170 million years in the past, this park encompasses over 1,000,000 hectares and is positioned within the state of Montana, bordering with the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.
The best time to visit Glacier National Park
September to October
Ah, the autumn season…the climate’s unbelievable, the environment is beautiful, and the paths are quiet. The primary week of September might be one of many nicest occasions to go to Glacier.
From September to October, the climate is average with heat sunny days and funky nights. However, as of October dawns, snow is prone to fall which can trigger sure closures within the park.
Furthermore, wildlife is extra energetic this time of the yr. Everybody will certainly benefit from the foliage shows and it’s a good time for mountaineering.
The final coloration change occurs in mid-October when the larch conifer timber, positioned primarily on the west facet, flip to a surprising gold coloration.
The one drawback of visiting inside this era is that many institutions, together with shops, eating places, and lodges are closed after Labor Day.
Therefore, guests would possibly have to search for close-by lodging outdoors the park or put together to camp, carry their very own meals, and take care of themselves – in different phrases, these months names for self-sufficiency, which is the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
November to April
November by April are the winter months in Glacier. The climate is extremely variable; temperatures can fall beneath freezing, generally leading to highway and path closures.
Typically, a lot of the park’s companies together with the lodges, meals institutions, shuttle service, and customer facilities are inaccessible for a lot of the winter.
On the brighter facet, entrance charges and lodging charges at close by gateway communities drops the bottom throughout this season.
The low charges introduced by this season make it enticing for winter action lovers resembling skiers and ice climbers who do not thoughts the chilly climate.
The perfect half is, campsites are freed from cost throughout the winter. Nonetheless, remember that avalanches and blizzards are frequent occurrences within the space and are harmful.
May to June
Following the winter months, many roads, institutions, lodging, and trails are nonetheless closed to the general public throughout the spring months of May and June.
It’d be unlucky to overlook the well-known Going-to-the-Solar Highway, which boasts spectacular sceneries since shuttle companies solely run when the climate permits.
However, you possibly can nonetheless marvel on the large snow elimination effort alongside Going-to-the-Solar Highway going down in early June, which is the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
A wonderful thing about these months is the lodging charges are nonetheless low, and the climate is more forgiving, permitting many hikers to get pleasure from cooler daytime temperatures which drop at night time.
July to August
July and August are the height vacationer months of the yr because of the summer season season. Anticipate hovering lodging charges throughout this era.
Because it will get slightly crowded throughout these months, it’s greatest to plan a reservation as much as a yr prematurely for those who plan to go this season.
The park is most alive from July to August for the reason that days are heat and sunny, very best for nearly all out of doors actions.
In the course of the nighttime, temperatures are chilling. Because the park is sloping, anticipate cooler and stronger winds at greater elevations.
Just like lodging and lodging, park-goers ought to reserve shuttles and boat excursions forward of time as their schedules run full throughout the whole summer season season.
Apparently, this season provides plenty of actions for youths, together with the park’s ranger-led actions that are in full swing.
Months and Seasons
Visiting Glacier in May
May is the primary month of the yr when issues start to open up, ever so steadily, in Glacier after the long winter season. A lot of the roads will open up early within the month, relying on how heavy the snowpack is.
The exception, after all, is Going to the Solar Highway which stays closed between the tip of Lake McDonald and St. Mary.
Nonetheless, as crews work on plowing the highway, you possibly can enter and experience your bike on the plowed parts of the highway — a neat method to see areas that are usually crowded in mid-summer.
Mountain climbing trails throughout the decrease elevations close to the jap and western borders of the park sometimes dry out and develop into do-able in May whereas the upper elevations stay snowed in.
Backcountry skiers in search of some corn turn and extra secure snow will discover that May is an effective time to enter Glacier National Park, particularly as highway entry begins to open up.
By way of climate, anticipate a blended bag. May is the second rainiest month of the yr in Glacier with rain or precipitation falling on a mean of 10-13 days.
Snow will fall on the greater elevations periodically by the month and sometimes can fall on the decrease elevations as nicely.
Common excessive temperatures vary from the 60s on the decrease elevations to the 40s on the greater elevations with common low temperatures within the 20s to 30s.
On the warmest days in May, excessive temperatures can attain the higher 70s to close 80, whereas, on the coldest days, low temperatures fall into the 20s.
May is the fifth busiest month on common, however, visitation is simply 18% of the height visitation month in July, so general it is a quiet month.
Campgrounds start to open up in May and services will steadily begin to open up as nicely, but many areas will nonetheless stay closed till Memorial Day or later.
Pros of visiting in May
Solitude, Bettering highway entry in comparison with winter, Mountain climbing choices at decrease elevations, Early sufficient that bug isn’t dangerous but, Lengthy days, Low elevation green-up and wildflower blooms, Biking on Going to the Solar Highway, Good backcountry snowboarding.
Cons of visiting in May
Rain is frequent, Mountain climbing is restricted resulting from snow, Temperatures will be chilly, Highway entry to greater terrain is restricted to nonexistent, Amenities and tenting are restricted.
Visiting Glacier in June
Snowpack continues to quickly decline in June, which permits for extra mountaineering choices because the month progresses.
Most trails as much as 6,000 ft sometimes develop into do-able by mid to late month, although lingering areas of snow and areas of operating water from snowmelt ought to nonetheless be anticipated, which is the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
Going to the Solar Highway will steadily open up because the month progresses, however the high of the highway at Logan Cross might not open to thru-traffic by the tip of the month until it has been a lightweight snow yr and/or a heat spring.
A lot of the services and campgrounds within the park will open up throughout June as nicely, however, crowds additionally start to extend. June is the third busiest month in common with visitation at 62% of peak.
Though temperatures are hotter in June, the climate will be difficult presently of yr.
June is the final month of Glacier’s conventional moist season, however, additionally, it is the rainiest month of the yr within the park with rain falling on 12-14 days on common.
Thunderstorms additionally develop into extra frequent throughout June in comparison with prior months.
The upper elevations in Glacier, together with Logan Cross, will sometimes see late-season snowfall occasions in June, however new snow melts rapidly because the solar is robust presently of yr.
The longest days of the yr do happen in June in spite of everything.
Common excessive temperatures in June vary from the higher 60s to low 70s on the decrease elevations to the 50s on the greater elevations with common low temperatures within the 30s to 40s.
On the warmest days in June, excessive temperatures will attain the 80s, whereas, on the good days, low temperatures will fall to around freezing (and even colder up excessive).
Pros of visiting in June
Bettering highway entry, Bettering mountaineering path entry throughout mid-elevations, longer days, Snug temperatures, Vegetation may be very green, Wildflowers, Most if not all campsites and services are open, Entry to late-season backcountry snowboarding.
Cons of visiting in June
Extra crowded, Bugs improve throughout the decrease elevations, Rainiest month of the yr, Increased elevations are nonetheless snowed in, Logan Cross normally stays closed by late June if not longer.
Visiting Glacier in July
July is the beginning of the prime season for mountaineering and recreating in Glacier National Park because the excessive elevations soften out and path entry opens up.
In heavy snow years, the upper trails may nonetheless be tough to entry throughout the first half of the month, however sometimes by mid to late July, issues are good to go, which is the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
Going to the Solar Highway sometimes opens up by early July as nicely, which additional will increase entry within the park. In fact, July can also be the busiest month within the park.
That shouldn’t deter you from visiting, however, make sure that to plan accordingly, begin your hikes early, select some lighter site visitors areas, and ebook your campsites prematurely when doable whereas additionally being versatile together with your plans.
July is the beginning of the standard dry season in Glacier and is the 2nd driest month of the yr on common.
Even so, rain nonetheless falls on a mean of 8-9 days, with most of this within the type of afternoon convective showers and thunderstorms.
Thunderstorms are much less frequent in Glacier in comparison with parks farther south within the Rockies, however, they do occur considerably regularly and lightning is certainly a hazard that must be taken severely on the upper elevation and trails and extra uncovered areas.
Common excessive temperatures in July vary from the higher 70s to low 80s on the decrease elevations to the 60s on the greater elevations with common lows within the 40s.
On the most popular days in July, excessive temperatures will attain the low 90s, whereas, on the good days, low temperatures will fall into the 30s.
Provided that July is the warmest month of the yr, it is a nice time to hang around on the many great lakes in Glacier.
Pros of visiting in July
Heat temperatures, Rain is much less frequent, All roads are open, Most mountaineering trails are accessible, Lengthy days, Wildflowers are at their peak, All campsites and services are open, Logan Cross sometimes opens by early July
Cons of visiting in July
Crowded, Bugs are at their worst, Wildfires and smoke will be points throughout dry years
Visiting Glacier in August
August can also be an exquisite time of yr to go to Glacier and mountaineering season is at its prime. You might be much less prone to run into snow mountaineering on the greater elevations in August than in another month of the yr.
August is the second busiest month of the yr and solely barely much less crowded than July with visitation at 91% of peak, which is the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
August can also be the driest month of the yr on common. Just like July, rain falls on a mean of 8 days in August, sometimes within the type of afternoon showers/thunderstorms.
Often, an early fall system will arrive in late August and produce a day or so of extra widespread rain and even snow to the upper elevations, however, this doesn’t occur yearly.
Temperatures in August are similar to these in July, although common temperatures do begin to cool off some (particularly at night time) towards the tip of the month.
One other noticeable development in August is that the times get shorter.
Maybe the one drawback about August (crowds apart) is that this tends to be the height of fireside season since it’s the driest month of the yr and the vegetation has had all summer season up till this level to dry out. Wildfires and smoke situations fluctuate considerably from yr to yr and daily.
Pros of visiting in August
Heat temperatures, Rare rainfall, All trails are accessible, All roads are open, Wildflowers are nonetheless good particularly early within the month, Bugs begin to die off by mid to late month, All campgrounds and services are open, Logan Cross is open
Cons of visiting in August
Crowded, Peak of wildfire and smoke season if it’s a dry yr/dry summer season, Days are beginning to get shorter
Visiting Glacier in September
September is usually an exquisite time to go to Glacier because the crowds are petering out whereas entry to the upper elevations stays good for a lot of the month (save for the occasional early season snowfall, which is able to rapidly soften). Additionally, the bugs are gone in September!
Some services and campsites will begin to shut down in September, however, all roads stay open until early-season snow forces a short-lived closure (most certainly on Logan Cross), which is the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
Mountain climbing entry is sweet presently of yr, and it may be an exquisite time to go to as the autumn colors begin to seem.
Glacier sometimes stays crowded by Labor Day weekend, however then the crowds rapidly begin to dwindle after Labor Day.
If you wish to enter the very best of Glacier’s mountaineering trails with probably the most solitude, then September (submit Labor Day) is your month.
Total, September is the 4th busiest month of the yr, however, visitation is simply 39% of the peak — a bit lower in comparison with August.
September is the third driest month of the yr behind July and August with rain falling on a mean of 8-9 days.
Nonetheless, when it does rain in September, it may be longer in length in comparison with the afternoon showers of mid-summer, as the primary organized fall low-stress techniques arrive presently of yr.
Thunderstorms are additionally much less frequent in September, however can nonetheless occur once in a while.
The primary cool techniques of the autumn typically carry snow to the upper elevations throughout September (and on extra uncommon events, even the decrease elevations), however, the snow that falls this early within the season melts rapidly within the days to comply with.
Common excessive temperatures in September vary from the 60s on the decrease elevations to the 50s on the greater elevations with common lows within the 30s.
On the warmest days in September, excessive temperatures will attain the 80s, whereas, on the good days, low temperatures will fall into the 20s.
Pros of visiting in September
Snug temperatures, Rare rains, Fall colors, Trails are accessible on most days, All roads are open (aside from momentary closures throughout early season snowfalls), No bugs, Extra solitude after Labor Day, Hearth season tapers off, Logan Cross stays open so long as it’s not snowing.
Cons of visiting in September
Shorter days, Early chilly snaps can carry snow and chilly temperatures, Wildflower season is over, Some services and campgrounds begin to shut down after Labor Day.
Visiting Glacier in October
October is a transition season and a time of yr when a lot of the park stays accessible earlier than shutting down for the winter.
Additionally, it is a time when late-season hikers and adventurers can discover loads of solitude as visitation is simply 8% of the height month.
Snow turns into extra frequent throughout the upper elevations because the month progresses.
Logan Cross typically shuts down for the winter throughout the first week or two of the month, at which level greater elevation trails above 6,000 ft additionally begin to develop into tougher, each when it comes to entry and extra frequent snow, which is the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
Mountain climbing typically stays accessible throughout the low to mid-elevations nicely into late October earlier than the winter snows actually set in, although in some years it could be earlier.
Mountain climbing in October will be very lovely, nonetheless, with the altering seasons.
Additionally, throughout the western and southern ends of the park, the distinctive larch timber change colors in October, normally peaking around mid-month.
Larch timber is uncommon “deciduous conifers” whose needles flip yellow within the fall and drop off within the winter. They’re spectacular of their fall foliage kind, too!
Amenities and open campsites develop into very restricted in October, though the Apgar and St. Mary Campgrounds stay open year-round and you may nonetheless camp within the backcountry with a allow as nicely. In any other case, you’ll need to organize tenting or lodging for outdoor of the park.
October is usually the month of transition from the dry season to the moist season, and you may anticipate something from days-long stretches of sunny, dry climate to multi-day chilly, moist, and snowy techniques.
On common, there are 9-12 days of precipitation throughout the month of October and snow is feasible in any respect elevations.
Common temperatures in October vary from the 50s on the decrease elevations to the higher 30s to low 40s on the greater elevations with common lows within the 20s and 30s.
On the warmest days in October, excessive temperatures will attain the higher 60s to low 70s, whereas on the coldest days, low temperatures will fall into the teenagers.
Pros of visiting in October
Solitude Can have stretches of a sunny and dry climate, Many mountaineering trails are nonetheless accessible, Fall colors —
particularly Larch timber, No bugs, Hearth season is over, Logan Cross might keep open by early/mid-month if climate stays good, Low season offers on lodging/meals outdoors of the park.
Cons of visiting in October
Rain and snow develop into extra frequent, Quick days, Excessive elevations begin to develop into snowbound, It may well get chilly particularly for tenting, Logan Cross/higher parts of Going to the Solar Highway begin to shut, Restricted services and campgrounds, Will be powerful to plan out of doors adventures prematurely since fall climate patterns fluctuate from yr to yr.
Visiting Glacier within the Winter (November-April)
True to its title (and likewise to its northerly latitude on the Canadian border and mountainous setting), winters are lengthy, chilly, and snowy in Glacier National Park.
A lot of the park shuts down within the winter, and it’s usually not generally known as a park the place vacation spot vacationers go to throughout the winter months, which is the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
Nonetheless, Glacier is simply as lovely within the winter and is nicely value a visit for those who’re within the space.
Combining a ski journey at close by Whitefish Ski Resort (or Fernie in BC) with a facet journey to discover Glacier National Park within the snow would make for a superior journey.
Entry to Glacier within the winter is feasible alongside and simply contained in the boundaries, particularly from Apgar/West Glacier, Lake McDonald, Polebridge, Marias Cross, Decrease Two Medication Lake, and St. Mary.
Cross nation snowboarding and snowshoeing on trails will be achieved from all of those entry factors.
Extra adventurous and skilled winter backcountry vacationers can even ski tour/backcountry ski contained in the park, ranging from Marias Cross or Lake McDonald primarily.
The Glacier National Park Ski and Snowshoe Path Web page have good details about winter trails within the park.
When you want to backcountry ski, then please seek the advice of the Flathead Avalanche Heart for present avalanche situations.
Additionally, surprisingly two campsites in Glacier stay open throughout the winter — Apgar and St. Mary — for those who’re in search of singular expertise.
Winter backcountry tenting can also be obtainable as nicely with a allow, which is free throughout the winter months.
Climate will be quite harsh throughout the winter, and extended cloudy/snowy stretches are frequent from November by January particularly, which means you won’t see the upper mountains.
When westerly flows are bringing heavy snow to the west facet of the park, remember that sturdy Chinook winds are possible impacting the jap facet of the park.
In the course of the coldest months (December-February), common highs are within the 20s and 30s and common lows are within the teenagers, however, throughout arctic chilly snaps, temperatures can fall nicely beneath zero.
Professionals of visiting Glacier within the winter: Solitude, Seeing the gorgeous landscapes lined in recent snow, Cross-country snowboarding, Snowshoeing, Backcountry snowboarding, Close by downhill snowboarding at Whitefish, Winter tenting
Cons of visiting Glacier within the winter: Restricted entry since a lot of the roads are closed, Mountains will be lined in clouds for days on finish, Temperatures will be very chilly
These month-to-month/seasonal summaries ought to offer you a good suggestion of what to anticipate on varied occasions of the yr in Glacier.
Subsequent, we’ll check out the month-to-month climate averages at three places in Glacier: West Glacier, Flattop Mountain (positioned on the Continental Divide), and St. Mary.
Moist and Dry Seasons
Annual precipitation in Glacier National Park is around 30 inches throughout the western border of the park, 25 inches across the jap border of the park, and as much as 70 inches alongside the crest of the Continental Divide above 6,000 ft.
The moist season in Glacier sometimes lasts from mid-October by the tip of June, with the heaviest precipitation falling from November by January, which is not the best time to visit Glacier National Park.
The park sees an uptick in precipitation in May and June as nicely. The dry season in Glacier sometimes lasts from early July by mid-October when precipitation is lighter and fewer frequent.
July and August are the 2 driest and warmest months general, however are additionally the 2 most crowded months when it comes to guests.
The 2 graphs beneath present the historic day by day precipitation percentages over the course of the yr at West Glacier (a west side of the park) and St. Mary (an east facet of the park).
Prevailing Climate Patterns
1. Moist Pacific storm techniques in a westerly stream that carry heavy precipitation to areas alongside and west of the Continental Divide and heat and dry Chinook winds to areas east of the Divide.
This sample is frequent from late fall by early spring (November-March) and most pronounced when the jet stream is oriented from west to east and positioned close to or simply south of the park.
2. Sluggish-moving low-stress techniques which are frequent within the spring and sometimes within the fall.
In these patterns, precipitation initially falls west of the Divide forward of the Low, earlier than shifting to areas east of the Divide as counterclockwise (cyclonic) winds across the low-stress heart shift to an easterly stream.
3. Continental or arctic chilly fronts that arrive from the north, and transfer from north to south throughout the adjoining plains, resulting in vital cool-downs together with gentle to average upslope precipitation falling alongside and east of the Continental Divide.
Areas west of the Divide are sometimes drier in these patterns and expertise much less pronounced cool-downs in comparison with areas east of the Divide.
4. Spring and summer season convective showers and thunderstorms. In these setups, instability and topographic uplift contribute to the event of showers and thunderstorms.
The convective nature of those showers/storms overrides the orographic/rain shadow impact, so rainfall variations resulting from altitude or location east vs. west of the Divide are much less pronounced.
In actual fact, in lots of situations, storms will develop properly alongside the Divide earlier than monitoring east.
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