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Take a Boat Ride to a Waterfall Hike in Montana’s Glacier National Park

Montana’s Glacier National Park is arguably one of the most beautiful parks in the United States. With alpine lakes, snowcapped mountains, and enchanting forests, this park is one that you can visit countless times. It is unique enough to still be completely captivated with how much there is to discover each time. The numerous sections of this park include over 700 trails just waiting to be explored.

Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road offers a gateway to hiking trails that lead to awe-inspiring landscapes.

This iconic road weaves its way through the expansive park, providing a jaw-droppingly gorgeous drive. The full road is usually only fully open during the summer months when the snow has completely melted. That is typically in late June or the beginning of July and closes after Labor Day weekend. During specific months of the year, a shuttle operates on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It is convenient for dropping visitors off in different areas of the parks and allowing them to easily access trailheads without having to drive. It also eliminates a good amount of traffic on the two-lane road. In addition to convenience and efficiency, having the opportunity to gaze out the window in awe at this magnificent park beats having to concentrate on keeping your eyes on the road when you are surrounded by so much beauty.

While there is a lot of information that can be shared regarding camping, hiking, fishing , and so much more in this park, one great service offered at Glacier National Park is its boat tour. The Glacier Park Boat Company has been operating for decades providing visitors the opportunity to experience this park from the water. Gazing up at the mountains from below as you glide through the crystal clear water is nothing short of a scene from a fairytale. These wooden boats are the same ones that have been operating in the park since 1926. They are meticulously maintained in order to keep them up and running for almost 100 years.

Boat tours are available in many different areas.

The tours can be all around the park including Two Medicine Lake, Many Glacier, St. Mary Lake at Rising Sun, and Lake McDonald. The boat tours typically run from early June to early September with multiple tours throughout the day. In the summer months, these boat trips tend to book up early, so planning ahead and making reservations in advance is highly recommended, especially if coming with multiple people.

While all of these boat rides are sure to offer impressive scenery, one in particular to check out is the boat ride from St. Mary Lake at Rising Sun. This is a scenic and leisurely boat ride in and of itself, but it can also serve as a means of transportation to get to some extraordinary hiking trails that lead to magnificent waterfalls. There is an option to just do the boat ride, but if you are looking to fit in some hiking as well, you can opt for the longer boat ride that provides a stop to check out some of the park’s waterfalls.

There are three waterfalls that you can hike to from where the boat docks midway through this trip. The first is Baring Falls which is about a third of a mile from the dock. This is perfect for an easy stroll to see the waterfall and spend some time there before getting back on the boat for the return trip.

If you’re up for a little bit of a speed challenge, you can go see St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls on this stop.

Both are outstanding waterfalls and definitely worth the trip to go see. The boat stop isn’t very long, so you’ll need to make pretty good time to hit all three of these waterfalls; however, they are worth the effort, as they are all fantastic in their own way. Also, while hiking to the falls, you’ll be on a trail that provides enchanting views of the lake that will leave you speechless.

Baring, St. Mary, and Virginia Falls are all accessible from hiking trails that you can reach by driving, but visiting them by boat allows you to cut some time off of the hike if you’re short on time, but still want to fit some waterfalls into your day. Even if you have plenty of time to spare, enjoying this boat ride while learning about the history and environment of the area is an experience that you don’t want to miss.  Seeing the sunlight hit the rich blue-green water of this park’s lakes while surrounded by green forests and mountains is a magical experience. With so much to see and do, Glacier National Park is filled with endless adventures to be had.

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