Embarking on a road trip from Missoula to Glacier National Park can be an adventure of a lifetime! With a distance of approximately 190 miles, this journey could take between three to four hours on the highway. The breathtaking scenery along the way is surely worth the effort.
Together, let’s explore the journey from Missoula to Glacier National Park in detail:
Overview of Missoula and Glacier National Park
Missoula and Glacier National Park are two of Montana’s best-loved attractions and a great place to spend a few days. Missoula is known for its lively downtown, popular restaurants, vibrant culture and bustling university community. The city is nestled on a wide valley along the Clark Fork River where you can find people kayaking and rafting the rapids.
Glacier National Park straddles the continental divide with its towering peaks, rugged canyons, dense forests and pristine alpine lakes.
The journey from Missoula to Glacier National Park begins in historic downtown Missoula with its many shops, pubs, galleries and theaters – not to mention several excellent restaurants serving up delicious Montana-style cuisine. Just south of town is the Lolo National Forest, providing endless recreation opportunities along its trails. From there you drive north through stunning mountain passes until eventually reaching Glacier National Park near the border of British Columbia.
Enjoy scenic drives on Going-to-the-Sun Road or hikes in one of 700 miles of trails that offer amazing views of snow capped mountains, alpine meadows and pristine mountain lakes found nowhere else in the world! Once at the park entrance you’ll want to plan accordingly; there’s so much to experience in this incredible wilderness!
How far is Missoula from Glacier National Park
If you’re looking to plan a trip from Missoula, Montana to Glacier National Park, you may be wondering how far the two destinations are from each other. Knowing the distance between the two points can help you plan your travel, decide on activities, and more.
In this article, we will take a look at the distance between Missoula and Glacier National Park.
Calculating the Distance
Calculating the exact distance between Missoula and Glacier National Park is not an easy task due to the winding nature of the roads. While there are a few straight streams of highway, most of the route requires navigating between towns, forests and valleys. The shortest possible route from Missoula to Glacier National Park is 226 miles long and can be traveled in approximately four hours without accounting for traffic.
In order to calculate its approximate length, you may need to use a map or online navigation service that can provide directions from Missoula to Glacier National Park. With this information, you would be able to map out your trip by looking at mileage markers and turnoff points. Additionally, some services can also give you an estimated time it will take based on traffic conditions in real-time.
Whether planning a road trip or checking the distance between two locations, knowing how far it is from Missoula to Glacier National Park is often helpful for budgeting time, money and energy for traveling.
Missoula and Glacier National Park are just over 160 miles away from one another. Driving between the two destinations is the quickest and most direct route, taking roughly three hours under normal highway speeds. The trip includes parts of several highways, scenic mountain routes and open terrain.
For those looking for a leisurely drive, US Route 93 connects Missoula to Whitefish, Montana. This stretch takes roughly four to five hours when traveling at a leisurely pace, as it offers travelers an array of incredible views and stops along the way. This route takes you past some of Montana’s most iconic sights – Flathead Lake, Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Glacier National Park itself.
From Whitefish to West Glacier is an additional hour-long drive along the Going-To-The-Sun Road where guests can admire popular sites like:
- Lake McDonald
- Logan Pass Visitor Center
- Wild Goose Island Picnic Area
This journey from Missoula to Glacier National Park takes approximately 4 hours and 35 minutes, covering approximately 256 miles. There are multiple transportation options for this journey, so you can choose the one that works best for you. Let’s take a look at some of the options you can choose from and their pros and cons:
One option for travelers visiting Glacier National Park from Missoula, Montana is to drive the approximate two and a half hour journey. The route has several optional rest stops in charming hamlets such as with alpine beauty in Seeley Lake. Driving from Missoula to West Glacier includes traveling on Highway 93 and traversing Clark Fork River Valley for most of the trip. All driving times are estimates based on average speeds, and routes taken may vary due to traffic or road closures.
The road conditions surrounding the national park depend on both elevation and season, so visitors should be prepared for whatever nature throws their way. Be sure to check reports before leaving Missoula, as mountain passes may close during inclement weather or heavy snowfall.
Although the drive is relatively short compared to other parks in the Northwest, travelers should expect a scenic journey that follows alongside mountain valleys spilling over with rivers and streams while evergreen forests pass by beyond your car windows.
Flying is generally the fastest way to get from Missoula to Glacier National Park; however, it can also be expensive. The closest airport for visitors is the Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) which is located about 80 miles north of the park entrance in Kalispell, Montana. From there, visitors can arrange for car rental or ride-share services including Uber and Lyft. Most flights will require a connection through either Seattle or Minneapolis.
If you prefer to fly directly into Glacier National Park, there is a small airstrip with two landing strips on the south shore of Lake McDonald located near Apgar Visitor Center which serves private planes and charters only. Private pilots may notify the park’s air traffic control at Sherburne Select Flight Service by calling 406-257-2622 and provide their flight plan prior to arrival/departure.
Taking the Train
Taking the train is a great option for traveling from Missoula to Glacier National Park. Depending on the time of year, visitors will have several different options for arriving at the park.
The Amtrak Empire Builder operates year-round and offers daily service from Oregon to Minnesota, with stops in Missoula and several other cities along the way. The train is an easy and leisurely way to get to your destination without having to worry about parking or traffic congestion. Plus, you get the chance to admire some of Montana’s famous scenery – towering mountains, expansive valleys, wide-open prairies – as you coast along the tracks. Some trains also offer dining cars where passengers can purchase food and drinks.
As an added bonus, some of Amtrak’s sleeper cars feature bedrooms and private baths, so visitors can rest up before beginning their adventures in Glacier National Park! Tickets for the Empire Builder are reasonably priced and reservations must be made in advance; however there are discounts available for both groups and children. Details can be found on Amtrak’s website or by calling 1 800 872-7245.
What to See Along the Way
No matter how you decide to get to Glacier National Park from Missoula, you are bound to witness some beautiful sights along the way. Whether you’re driving or taking the bus, you can look forward to seeing the stunning landscapes of the Rocky Mountains, along with breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys.
Let’s talk about the must-see sights during your journey from Missoula to Glacier National Park:
Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi in the lower 48 states. It is located in Northwest Montana and measures almost 200 square miles. It’s surrounded by mountainous areas covered with evergreen forests, offering a stunning landscape to behold along your journey between Missoula and Glacier National park.
As you make your way up to Flathead Lake, you can explore charming towns like Bigfork or Somers. Each has a unique personality, full of galleries, restaurants, and boutiques to explore. Whether you go fishing in the lake or just take a leisurely stroll through town, there is something for everyone.
The scenery along the route simply cannot be overlooked –gorgeous views stretch out for miles around, making the trip more than worth it. Enjoy breathtaking views from atop different mountain passes with strong natural beauty all year round.
- From white sandy beaches on the south end of Flathead Lake
- To hikes that cut through wildflower meadows and tall pine forests on Whitefish Mountain resort
– there are endless opportunities for adventure awaiting as you drive from Missoula to Glacier National Park!
National Bison Range
The National Bison Range is perched in a mountain meadow at the northern edge of the Mission Valley, and is a remnant of the vast grassland that once extended across large portions of Montana. Established as a wildlife refuge in 1908, this area provides visitors with an opportunity to view over 300 head of bison, mule deer and various birds.
The 20,000-acre range offers spectacular views of the mission and Clayton valleys with several marked scenic viewing areas along the auto tour route. The visitor center contains exhibits about wildlife as well as other species that have been reintroduced to the range including antelope and elk. There are picnic grounds and camping facilities located near Medicine Point to complement your visit.
This national wildlife Refuge provides not only balmy summer days suitable for relaxing and bird watching but also winter excursions complete with skiing trails and abundant wildlife sightings. No matter what time of year it is, The National Bison Range is sure to provide you with memories you don’t want to miss!
National Forest Scenic Byway
The National Forest Scenic Byway is a picturesque route connecting Missoula to Glacier National Park. This 132-mile drive winds through seven mountain valleys, over six mountain passes, and through four national forests – Land of the Shining Mountains, Flathead National Forest, Kootenai National Forest and Clearwater National Forest.
As you travel along this scenic route you will see sweeping views of towering mountains wreathed in glaciers, vibrant blue lakes and rivers cutting through the forested valleys, abundant wildflowers which provide a kaleidoscope of color throughout each season. Along the way you can also explore historical sites such as old cabins, restored train depots and rustic homesteads framing the landscape along with roadside lakes and a variety of wildlife habitats.
A trip along this byway can be taken at any time of the year however each season has its own beauty – summer months offer stunning wildflower blooms while fall brings a spectacular range of fall foliage colors; winter provides plenty outdoor opportunities such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing while in spring you may witness majestic wildlife while roadsides are scattered with baby animals. No matter what time of year you decide to take your journey to Glacier National Park – it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience!
Taking the journey from Missoula to Glacier National Park provides travelers with a stunning landscape and the opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful spots in Montana, if not the US. There are literally hundreds of things to see and do on a trip from Missoula. Whether you explore ancient glacial formations, take a hike into a pristine mountain range, kayak down rivers, or simply visit small towns and friendly people; there is always something fascinating to discover out here.
The drive itself is an adventure worth taking. From rolling hills of wheat fields in the east, to majestic mountains in the west, the scenery continues to change. This journey should be at the top of everyone’s list when traveling to Montana and beyond. Don’t miss out on any opportunity to explore this incredible natural area!