Two thousand lakes, a thousand miles of rivers, thick forests, breezy meadows and awe-inspiring peaks make up one of America’s finest attractions, GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – a haven for bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black and grizzly bears, wolves and mountain lions. Although the park does hold 25 small (and rapidly retreating) glaciers, it really takes its name from the huge flows of ice that carved these immense valleys 20,000 years ago. In the summer months this is prime hiking and whitewater rafting territory, while huckleberries litter the slopes in autumn. Outside of summer, the crisp air, icy-cold waterfalls and copious snowfall give the impression of being close to the Arctic Circle; in fact, the latitude here is lower than that of London.

The fifty-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road across the heart of Glacier National Park is one of the most awe-inspiring scenic drives in the country, and driving it from west to east can take several hours, creating the illusion that you’ll be climbing forever – with each successive hairpin bringing a new colossus into view. Beginning at West Glacier, the road runs east along ten-mile Lake McDonald before starting to climb, as snowmelt from waterfalls gushes across the road, and the winding route nudges over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass (6680ft) – a good spot to step out and enjoy the views. The most popular trail in the park begins at Logan Pass, following a boardwalk for a mile and a half across wild-flower-strewn alpine meadows framed by towering craggy peaks, en route to serene Hidden Lake. Four miles on, there’s an overlook at Jackson Glacier, one of the few glaciers visible from the roadside. From here the road descends to St Mary Lake and the east gate at St Mary, right on the edge of the Great Plains.

Note that Glacier is one of the few national parks you can happily explore without a car; Amtrak runs up to the park entrance, where shuttle buses ply up and down Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 places to get off the tourist trail in New York City

7 places to get off the tourist trail in New York City

Ticked off New York City’s big sights and wondering where to go next? From sinking a pint in Brooklyn's Red Hook to sampling Italian delicacies in The Bronx, …

11 Apr 2017 • Stephen Keeling insert_drive_file Article
In search of the real Wild West on America's Great Plains

In search of the real Wild West on America's Great Plains

Wild West – we all feel something when we see or hear those words. But why? How much is true and how much is fantasy? Our editor Neil McQuillian took to the (…

06 Apr 2017 • Neil McQuillian local_activity Special feature
15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

With mountains to climb, rivers to raft, glaciers to coo over and a bevy of bears to photograph, Alaska is the ultimate wilderness – and this year is the per…

30 Mar 2017 • Sarah Reid camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month