Grinnell Glacier#9 in Best Things To Do in Glacier National Park
Named for anthropologist and conservationist George Bird Grinnell, the Grinnell Glacier is one of the most-photographed attractions in the park. The Grinnell Glacier hike is a little more than 10 miles round-trip and, at the viewpoint, reaches 1,600 feet in altitude. Hikers can take a shortcut to the trailhead by using the Glacier Park Boat Company shuttle or catch the trailhead at various points including Logan Pass and the Many Glacier Hotel. If you want to park your car, a free shuttle service runs from all three visitor centers: Apgar, St. Mary and Logan Pass. The early morning boat shuttles from Lake Josephine or Swiftcurrent Lake are popular with hikers, as the boat ride trims several miles off the trail. Reserve a round-trip ticket in advance ($27.50 for adult; $13.75 for children). One-way return-only tickets are available on a space-available basis and can be purchased from the boat captain.
Most recent visitors called this daylong hike a "must-do" and loved the variety of wildlife, from bighorn sheep and mountain goats to marmots and bears. However, reviewers also warned that it's best for physically and aerobically fit individuals due to the altitude and difficult descent. Some suggested taking the boat tour to eliminate several miles of hiking. Many travelers recommended starting the hike early in the day, bringing bear spray, warm clothing and food and drinks, and wearing sturdy hiking shoes. The trail is typically open from early June through late September, depending on the amount of snowfall. Access to the trail is included in your park admission. For more information on day hikes, visit the NPS website.
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#1 Apgar Nature Center
Housed in a small cabin built in 1929, the Apgar Nature Center sits in a grove of cedar trees and is one of the official park visitor centers. The nature center features interactive activities for kids: children can feel a grizzly bear's fur, listen and identify birds by their "songs" or create their own puppet show. Educational displays detail plants found in the park and teach about the habitats of the vast array of wildlife. Ranger-led talks and other programs are held in the outdoor seating area.
Recent travelers recommended making this visitor center your first stop in the park to gather important information on road and weather conditions, bear sightings and trail closures. Families particularly enjoyed the junior ranger programs and special activities, and many visitors were impressed with the restaurant, the helpful staff and the free Wi-Fi. Many also noted that this is the place to park for free shuttle service and park tours.
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