Fall is a wonderful time to experience Glacier, but visitors at this time of year need to plan ahead and be self-sufficient. Generally, the park is less crowded, wildlife is more active, and the trees are turning colors by mid-September. The last color change is when the western larch (a deciduous conifer that loses its needles) turns yellow in mid-October. Sometimes the best road for viewing the larch display is Highway 2, which runs along the southern boundary of the park.
What Roads are Open?
Conditions permitting, Going-to-the-Sun Road usually remains fully open until the third Monday in October. The closure gate on the west side then moves to either Avalanche Creek or Lake McDonald Lodge, as dictated by weather. The location of the closure gate on the east side is also determined by weather. The Many Glacier Road closes the third weekend in November, weather permitting. Two Medicine Road will close for the season once inclement weather and snow accumulation requires it.
Visitor Centers and Restrooms
The visitor centers close in late September and early October. Restrooms at the Apgar Visitor Center remain open year-round.
The trails are generally less crowded, but visitors can expect to pass many fellow hikers throughout the month of September. When hiking, stay alert for signs of wildlife and carry bear spray. Read the wildlife safety information and access trail maps on the park website. Once Going-to-the-Sun Road closes at Avalanche Creek or Lake McDonald Lodge, the portion beyond the gate is available for hikers and bicyclists.
Many animals, especially bears, spend more time foraging for food as they prepare to enter hibernation. You may notice wildlife along roadsides as they graze. Please do not approach or feed wildlife, either in a vehicle or on foot. Observe them with binoculars, spotting scopes, or long telephotos lenses.
Apgar Campground is usually available for primitive camping. The campground has a vault toilet, but there is no running water. Availability is first-come, first-served.
A permit is required for wilderness camping. Permits may be obtained in-person up to 24 hours in advance at the Apgar Wilderness Permit Office. The office remains open through the end of October.
Food and Lodging
The camp store in Apgar Village may still be open and provides snacks and drinks. There are full-service grocery stores outside the park in Browning, Hungry Horse, and Columbia Falls. The grocery store in St. Mary may sometimes remain open in the fall.
Lodging is not available in the park this time of year. The State of Montana maintains a tourism website that may be helpful in finding nearby accommodations: visitmt.com.
A water bottle filling station is located at the Apgar Visitor Center, which is two miles north of the West Entrance.
Information needed to plan a visit at any time of the year is available on our website. Near park entrances, visitors can take advantage of updated information on the Travelers’ Information Station at 1610 AM. Information is also available by phone at (406) 888-7800.