Ranger Guided

ranger leads line of children on boardwalk
Ranger leads a school group on Trail of the Cedars

NPS/Jacob W. Frank

Map of Glacier National Park with locations of education programs labeled in dark blue
Education Program Locations

NPS Graphic

Ranger-led programs offered during the school year are conducted in a variety of locations on both the west and east sides of the Continental Divide and must be scheduled in advance.

To allow more children to participate, schools are now restricted to one ranger-led program per class per year.

Descriptions of each field trip can be found below with links to more information and the reservation form. If you already know what field trip you are interested in, visit the Scheduling & Guidelines page to submit a reservation request.

Note: There will be construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road this fall. It will be closed at mile marker 5.5 and at Jackson Glacier Overlook for the week of October 15, 2018 so we will not be offering education programs that week.


We will begin taking reservations for the 2018-2019 school year on Monday August 20, 2018 at 8:00 am. See important dates listed below for program offerings.

Fall programs for 2018 have concluded. We are still accepting rerservations for 2019 winter and spring. The east side still has spaces available. The west side has limited availability for winter and no availability for spring. If you submit a request for a west side program for spring, you will be placed on a wait list.

Please go to the Scheduling & Guidelines page to submit a reservation request.

2018-19 Ranger-Guided Field Trips


Grade K: Sensory Exploration

  • Apgar & St. Mary: April 29 - May 24, 2019

Students explore the natural world using their five senses and consider how wild animals also use their senses. Note: Kindergarten programs are half-day with a ranger and the rest of the day with teacher-led activities.

Grade 1: Wild Animals and Wild Places

  • Apgar & St. Mary: April 29 - May 24, 2019

Glacier National Park is a protected place full of many different wild animals. Students look for signs of wildlife and learn ways that wild animals are adapted to live in their habitats. Hikes are less than one mile and are combined with other hands-on learning activities.

Grade 2: Exploring Habitats

  • Apgar and St. Mary: April 29 - May 24, 2019

This program uses the forest, aquatic, grassland, and prairie/aspen parklands habitats found in Glacier National Park to help young students learn about habitat requirements, wildlife signs, plant and animal changes as they grow and age, and the national park mission of protecting habitat. Hikes are about one mile and are combined with other hands-on learning activities.

Grades 1-2: Winter Ecology

  • Apgar: January 7-March 15, 2019

Students spend the day indoors and outdoors participating in hands-on activities and a snowshoe walk to learn about winter ecology. Students examine snow and look for signs of life in winter. The park provides snowshoes for students and chaperones free of charge.


Grades 3-4: Forest Processes

  • Trail of the Cedars: September 10 - October 12, 2018
  • Two Medicine: September 10 - September 28, 2018

One to two-mile hikes with a ranger into the old growth coniferous forest or aspen parkland provide opportunities for students to learn about photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, succession, disturbance, forest ecology, wild flowers, and American Indian uses of both plants and animals.

Grades 4-5: Fire Ecology

  • Fish Creek area:
    • September 10 - October 12, 2018
    • May 13 - May 24, 2019
  • St. Mary:
    • September 10 - September 28, 2018
    • May 13 - May 24, 2019

Rangers guide students through activities such as scavenger hunts, using dichotomous keys to identify fuel types, examining tree for fire scars, and/or watching demonstrations of fire behavior. Groups consider the history of fire in Glacier and its role as a natural process on these 2-3 mile hikes.

Grades 3-5 Winter Ecology

  • Apgar & St. Mary: January 7 - March 15, 2019

Students participate in hands-on stations led by adults to learn about snow properties, then go on a snowshoe walk to look for signs of life in winter. The park provides snowshoes for students and chaperones free of charge.


Fire and Succession

  • Apgar: September 10 - October 12, 2018
  • St. Mary:
    • September 10 - September 28, 2018
    • May 13 - May 24, 2019

One of the reasons Glacier National Park was established was to preserve biodiversity and natural processes. Fire is a natural disturbance that plays an important role in natural communities. Students will learn about fire effects while gathering and analyzing data in a recent burn area.

Earth Science Hike

  • Avalanche Lake: September 10 - October 12, 2018
  • Many Glacier: September 10 - September 28, 2018

The Avalanche and Lake McDonald Valleys (west side of park) and the Grinnell Glacier Valley (east side of park) provide evidence of a range of geologic processes that have shaped the landscape. Rangers lead students on a 4+ mile hike and explore sedimentation, mountain building, glaciation, rocks and minerals, erosion, weathering, and soil formation. The length of these hikes and level of information is geared toward secondary age students and is a challenge to fit into a regular school day schedule. The ability to have an extended field day is recommended for this program.

Grades 6-12: Winter Ecology

  • Apgar and St. Mary: January 7 - March 15, 2019

Students participate in an all day snowshoe walk to explore the physical properties of snow, animal tracks, and winter adaptations. During the walk they collect data to calculate snow water equivalence and consider the importance of snow surveys. Snowshoes for students and adults are provided free of charge.

Plant Invaders-Citizen Science (Grades 6-12)

  • Apgar: September 10 - October 12, 2018

Students will become "Citizen Scientists" and hike less than 2 miles to permanently established research plots to collect data on the percent cover of native and non-native, invasive plants. Students will return to school and enter their information into a Google Document to add their data to the information from previous visits of other schools. They will analyze and look for patterns as the database builds each year.

Service Learning Field Trips

Native Plant and Citizen Science Field Trips (Grades 6-12)
Glacier's Native Plant Restoration Program and Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center work with teachers interested in doing field work with their secondary school students.

Square logo with illustration of goat silhouetted on mountains and green field with trail
These programs are made possible with the support of Glacier National Park Conservancy.

Ready to Reserve Your Field Trip?

Find the reservation form and important information on the Scheduling and Guidelines page.

Be sure to check out our basic guidelines and suggestions. Regardless of the season, students and chaperones will have a more enjoyable experience if they are well-equipped for the day.

Travel Grants

Travel grants available for schools with restricted transportation budgets thanks to donations to the Glacier National Park Conservancy. There is also a Montana public lands grant for fourth grade classes.

Last updated: November 26, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936


(406) 888-7800

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