Glacier National Park might just be one of the last, bona-fide, real-deal wilderness areas in the United States – although the park doesn’t really end at the border. Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, comprised of Glacier National Park on the U.S. side and Waterton Lakes National Park on the Canadian side, was established by the two countries in 1932.
At first glance, Glacier National Park might seem like a strange recommendation for families. This place is rugged – real rugged. At 1,600 square miles it’s a bit bigger than Yosemite, but there’s only one road in the entire park and it’s only 50 miles long.
There’s something for everyone at Glacier, though, and that’s what it really has to offer families. Kids and parents alike will have a lot of fun on one of the boat tours of Lake McDonald or St. Mary Lake. It’s the easiest way to see some of the fantastic terrain of the park that’s not visible from the road. Likewise, a bus tour on one of the park’s historic “Red Buses” will let everyone in the family take-in the sights as it traverses the park on the Going to the Sun Road.
For the more adventurous set, and if your kids are a little older, exploring Glacier on horseback is a great way to see more of the park, including some of the wildlife. What teenager wouldn’t be impressed with a 1,000-plus pound moose, or a Grizzly Bear? Glacier National Park has a lot of wildlife that you just can’t see anywhere else – at least not all in one place.
There are thirteen campgrounds in Glacier National Park, two of which accept reservations. Dispersed camping is not allowed in the park. St. Mary campground is located on the east side of the park, about one half mile from the St. Mary visitor center, which is convenient for the boat and Red Bus tours. The other campground in Glacier that accepts reservations is Fish Creek, located on the west side of the park.
Glacier National Park is one of the great wilderness preserves in the United States, and it’s relatively untouched natural beauty and diverse population of wildlife is what makes the park one of my “places to camp before the kids grow up.”