Best time to visit Glacier National Park, MT

Kayaking in Glacier National Park, MT

It is impossible to swim in the icy lakes of the park, but they can definitely be explored on a kayak

Best time: June–August

Kayaking on Lake McDonald

In addition to the impressive mountains, Glacier National Park park boasts no less impressive lakes filled with glacial meltwater. Their calm and clear waters are perfect for kayaking.

The biggest lake in the park, Lake McDonald, occupies around 3,153 feet (292 sq. m) in the western part of the park. In addition to its size, the lake is famous for its birds. You can spot harlequin ducks, herons, and even eagles. The second-largest water basin is St. Mary Lake, which is located at the foot of the mountains in the eastern part of the park.

Other popular locations include Swiftcurrent Lake with its Grinnell Point, which rises spectacularly above the water. Bowman Lake is suitable for those seeking solitude and privacy. At Two Medicine Lake, the water is so calm that you can see the perfect reflection of the skyline. Kintla Lake's advantage is its remote location, which keeps it away from the crowds of tourists. There is a chance to have the lake just to yourself. Flathead River, which stretches for 158 miles (254 km), is perfect for faster kayaking.

Summer months are the best time for kayaking. The air temperature from June to August can reach up to 90 °​F (32 °​C). But the water in the lakes does not get warmer than 50 °​F (10 °​C) throughout the year. Because of warm days and cold nights, kayaking is best during daylight hours. Also, choose morning or afternoon when the winds usually subside. Kayaks can be rented directly in the park for about $ 15 per hour, or you can bring your own.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Glacier National Park to go kayaking?

Kayaking enthusiasts should plan their visit to Glacier National Park between June and August, the park's summer months. During these months, the air temperature can soar up to 90 °​F (32 °​C). Make sure to dress appropriately since the water temperature is typically less than 50 °​F (10 °​C). The best time of day to kayak is during morning or afternoon hours when winds are calmer. It's also wise to avoid the early evening since the winds can become stronger before nightfall. Show more

Where are the best locations for kayaking in Glacier National Park?

Glacier National Park offers kayaking opportunities in several locations. Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Swiftcurrent Lake, Bowman Lake, Two Medicine Lake, Kintla Lake, and the Flathead River are some of the popular kayaking locations. Lake McDonald is the largest and is home to a variety of birds such as herons, eagles, and harlequin ducks. Check with the park for rental services, which offer different types of kayaks based on your needs and experience level. Show more

How cold are the glacial meltwater lakes in Glacier National Park?

Kayaking in Glacier National Park's glacial meltwater lakes is a great activity, provided you come prepared. The water temperature is quite frigid throughout the year, remaining less than 50 °​F (10 °​C). This necessitates appropriate clothing to keep you warm. A drysuit, wetsuit, or both, life jacket, sunglasses, and a hat, for example, are ideal. Checking the weather forecast before going is also important to avoid dangerous kayaking conditions. Show more

What wildlife can be seen while kayaking in Lake McDonald?

Lake McDonald, as Glacier National Park's largest lake, is a great place for kayaking with an abundance of birdlife such as harlequin ducks, herons, and eagles. Trout and salmon are also common fish species sighted while kayaking. Moose sightings are frequent in the surrounding areas, with visitors advised to keep a safe distance from the animals at all times and observe them only from afar due to park regulations. Show more

Is it better to rent a kayak or bring your own when visiting Glacier National Park?

Kayaking enthusiasts have the option of either renting a kayak or bringing their own on their visit to Glacier National Park. The park offers kayak rental services for around $15 per hour, inclusive of paddles, life jackets, and safety gear. This option may appeal to those looking to minimise hassle and costs. However, bringing your own kayak is also an option and may be the preferred choice for kayakers wanting more flexibility and better scheduling of their trips. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin