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 restricted to one ranger-led program per class per year.

Descriptions of each field trip can be found below with links to more information. If you already know what field trip you are interested in, visit the Scheduling & Guidelines page to learn how to register. You can also send us an email if you have questions.


Ranger-Guided Field Trips


Grade K: Sensory Exploration

  • Apgar & St. Mary: Spring

Students explore the natural world using their five senses and consider how wild animals also use their senses.

Grade 1: Wild Animals and Wild Places

  • Two Medicine: Fall
  • Apgar: Spring

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 & St. Mary: Spring

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: Winter

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 3-5: Forest Processes

  • Trail of the Cedars and Two Medicine: Fall

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: Fall & Spring
  • St. Mary: Spring

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: Winter

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.


Changing Landscapes

  • Apgar: Spring & Fall

This is a 4 to 5 hour hiking field trip in Glacier National Park, where students will learn about the effects that climate change can have on the landscape, and in particular, phenology. Students will also explore why we care about changes in phenology and the possible effects changes in phenology have on other life, such as wildlife and humans.

What Do Scientists Do? (Fire and Forest Succession Data Collection in the Field)

  • Apgar & St. Mary: Fall

Students will experience being field scientists by gathering and analyzing data to answer a question about a forest that burned over 80 years ago, and one that burned less than 20 years ago.

Earth Science Hike

  • Avalanche Lake & St. Mary: Fall

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 & St. Mary: Winter

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)

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?

Visit 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.

To hear directly from students, teachers, and rangers involved with our programs, check out this video produced by the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

Travel Grants

Travel grants available for schools with restricted transportation budgets thanks to donations to the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

Last updated: May 1, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936



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