6 Reasons you Should Backpack Glacier National Park
By Jordan Vaughn & Eva Griffith
For many, backpacking in “The Last Best Place” is a dream come true. We couldn’t control our excitement as our 40th National Park, Glacier, drew nearer. Here are six reasons why you should backpack Glacier National Park.
1. The backcountry campsites are ridiculously beautiful.
Our night two and three campsites (Lake Ellen Wilson and Gunsight Lake respectively) are easily two of the most picturesque campsites we have stayed at on the journey thus far. Both are on the edge of turquoise alpine lakes, and only have a few sites so you are relatively secluded.
2. Even the pit toilets have a great view.
Drake would have named his album Views from the Pit if he had the chance to see the view from the pit toilet at Lake Ellen Wilson. With only a few trees to shield you from view, there is an opening directly in front of you that looks down on Lake Ellen Wilson and the waterfalls cascading down the mountain behind it.
3. There are waterfalls everywhere.
I lost count at twenty. You enter a wonderland when you enter into the Glacier backcountry, and hundred foot waterfalls seem commonplace. We even had to do a water-crossing under the mist of a rushing waterfall. Waterfall shower, anyone?
4. The color of the alpine lakes.
Never having spent time in around the Canadian border, I just didn’t know lakes this color existed. Largely to do with a glacial flour that funnels down into these alpine lakes, they glow turquoise when the sunlight hits them. Normal blue lakes just won’t do it anymore.
5. Going to the Sun Road.
We started and ended our journey along Going to the Sun Road. This 50-mile road takes you over the Continental Divide, and also offers free shuttles for backpackers who pop out along it. We ended our trek at Jackson Glacier Overlook, the only spot along the road where you can see a glacier.
6. Polar plunging in glacier melt.
This has become a favorite of mine on the road. We jumped into the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, into the crystal clear water at Crater Lake, and now the turquoise waters of Gunsight Lake. After a full day of hiking, there is nothing better than giving your feet and joints a break with a little polar plunge. Feel free to call us Wim Hof.
If you plan on backpacking Glacier but don’t have an advanced reservation (like us), head over to their live-updated feed for the status of their backcountry camps. (https://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/bcpermits/bcbull/bcrescgstatus.cfm). This will allow you to narrow down your options and see what is available.
Thankfully, our Ultra-Marathon running friends Carly and Zac were joining us for this adventure, and they had the genius idea to book our first campsite for two nights. This allowed us to secure the route we wanted, and get around the rule that you can’t book a walk-in permit more than 24 hours in advance.
We heard from multiple people during our trip that you can’t go wrong with any backpacking trip in Glacier. This is one of those parks you can explore for years, and we will definitely be back to do more backpacking. Cheers!