Ranger Guided

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

NPS/Jacob W. Frank

Logo with illustration of goat, mountains, and trail through green field
These programs are made possible with the support of the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

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.

2017-18 School Year

Making Reservations

Reservations for ranger-led programs will begin at 8 am on August 21, 2017. We will not be taking reservations by phone. Please use the reservation form which will become "live" at that time. If you are having difficulty with the reservation form, you can contact the Education Specialist at 406-888-5837. Due to increasing demands for programs, schools will be restricted to one ranger-led program per class per year to allow more children to participate.

Educators are also encouraged to bring students to the park on their own. Please see our self-guided page for information about applying for an academic fee waiver, safety, and tips for visiting the park with school groups.

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, you can click here for the reservation form.

West Side Programs

Apgar, Avalanche, Rocky Point

Fall West Side 2017 Program Dates

There will be construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road this fall with no access to the Avalanche Picnic Area/Trailhead after October 6, 2017.

Monday, September 11, 2017 - Wednesday, October 6, 2017, these programs are available from the west side of the park:

Monday, October 9, 2017 - Wednesday, October 18, 2017, these programs are available on the west side of the park:

Winter West Side 2018 Program Dates

January 8, 2018 - March 23, 2018, these programs will be available on the west side of the park:

Spring West Side 2018 Program Dates

April 30, 2018 - May 11, 2018, these programs are available on the west side of the park:

May 14- May 25, 2018, these programs are available on the west side of the park.

East Side Programs

St. Mary, Many Glacer, Two Medicine

Fall East Side 2017 Program Dates

Monday, September 18, 2017 - Wednesday, September 27, 2017, these programs are available on the east side of the park:

Winter East Side 2018 Program Dates

January 16, 2018 - March 23, 2018, due to winter weather conditions, these programs will be available for upper grades only on the east side of the park:

Spring East Side 2018 Program Dates

April 30, 2018 - May 25, 2018, these programs are available on the east side of the park:



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.


Before your group arrives, it is important to be aware of some basic guidelines. Regardless of the season, students and chaperones will have a more enjoyable experience if they are well-equipped for the day.


Ranger-Guided Field Trip Options


Sensory Exploration (Grade K)
Wild Animals and Wild Places (Grade 1)
Exploring Habitats (Grade 2)
Location: Apgar Village or St. Mary
These programs use 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 less than one mile and are combined with other hands-on learning activities. Note: Kindergarten programs are half-day with a ranger and the rest of the day with teacher-led activities.

Forest Processes (Grades 3-4)
Location: Trail of the Cedars, Two Medicine, or St. Mary
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.

Fire Ecology (Grades 4-5)
Location: Fish Creek area or St. Mary
Rangers guide students through activities such as scavenger hunts, using dichotomous keys to identify fuel types, examining tree rings 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.

Fire and Succession (Grades 6-8)
Location: Apgar
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 (Grades 5-9)
Location: Avalanche Lake or Many Glacier
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.

Plant Invaders-Citizen Science (Grades 6-12)
Location: Apgar
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.

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


Winter Ecology (Grades 1-2)
Winter Ecology (Grades 3-5)
Winter Ecology (Grades 6-12)
Location: Apgar Village or St. Mary (only grades 6-12 at St. Mary)
All winter ecology programs on both west and east sides of the park include snowshoe hikes. The park provides all the snowshoes for students and chaperones free of charge. Depending on the age of the group and the area visited, students may also explore the physical properties of snow, animal tracks, winter adaptations, snow caves, snow metamorphism, variations in snow density, and the importance of snow surveys.

Last updated: August 21, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936


(406) 888-7800

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