Best time to travel to Glacier National Park, MT

Stargazing in Glacier National Park, MT

The best destination in Montana for astronomy enthusiasts

Best time: all year round (best September–April)


Constellation hunters will not be disappointed by Glacier National Park. Big skies and minimum light pollution create jaw-dropping landscapes not only during the days but also during clear nights.

Certified as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), Glacier National Park boasts many locations for watching the stars. Its numerous hiking trails and camping sites allow spending the whole night outdoors under the big sky of Montana.

During the summer season from June through September, the park hosts a series of stargazing events. However, the best season for stargazing at Glacier National Park is actually winter. At this time, the skies are darker, and visitors have a higher chance of spotting the northern lights.

East Glacier

Start your stargazing excursion to Glacier National Park at St. Mary Visitor Center. St. Mary Observatory (Dusty Star Dome) is one of the best locations to watch the stars in Montana, as it is equipped with a large 20-inch telescope, providing high-resolution views. St. Mary Visitor Center is open daily from late May through early October. It features the NPS Night Sky Program and the Big Sky Astronomy Club, which provides guests with an opportunity to observe the night sky in all its glory.

From St. Mary, take a drive on Going-to-the-Sun Road, and you will find plenty of scenic locations for nighttime photography. Logan Pass, the highest point on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, located within 18 mi (29 km) from St. Mary, is famous for its starry views. The high elevation and no light pollution make it a great stop to enjoy the Milky Way.

West Glacier

Continue along Going-to-the-Sun Road to explore the best stargazing spots at Glacier Country. Heavens Peak attracts many photographers and night sky enthusiasts due to its amazing views. Lake McDonald and Avalanche Lake provide mesmerizing reflections. Apgar, located in the southwest corner of the park, is another attraction. The Apgar village, which is equipped with telescopes, hosts night sky viewing events over the summer.

More of Montana's big sky views over the rugged peaks are available on the northwestern side, where Upper Waterton Lake at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park offers some of the best stargazing in North America.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Glacier National Park for stargazing?

From September to April, Glacier National Park provides visitors with excellent opportunities to observe stars and Northern Lights as clear winter skies stretch as far as the eye can see. Though stargazing events are organized by the Park Management from June to September, visitors can enjoy looking at the stars without guidance too. Show more

Where can I find the best locations for stargazing in Glacier National Park?

Glacier National Park is renowned as an International Dark Sky Park, and visitors can explore numerous and the best stargazing locations in the park, such as St. Mary Visitor Center, Observatory, Heavens Peak, Going-to-the-Sun Road, Apgar Village, Glacier Country, Avalanche Lake, and many more. Upper Waterton Lake, situated in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, is one of the best stargazing locations in North America. Show more

What can I expect to see during stargazing at Glacier National Park?

At Glacier National Park, stargazers will experience vast open skies, pollution-free sights of stars, and constellations such as the Milky Way. The Northern Lights are visible from the park in winter and early spring. The lights display a beautiful array of colors, making it an unforgettable experience on its own or available with other activities such as camping or photography. Show more

Are there any organized stargazing events at Glacier National Park?

From June to September, Glacier National Park organizes exciting stargazing events for visitors, which are guided by park rangers and astronomy experts, offering interactive and fun ways of learning stargazing and astronomy. Additionally, visitors can enroll in the Night Sky Program at St. Mary Visitor Center and join the Big Sky Astronomy Club, which provides a chance to discover more and stargaze along with other enthusiasts. Show more

When is the best time of the year to see the Northern Lights in Glacier National Park?

If visitors aim to catch the natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights, they should visit Glacier National Park during the winter and early spring months, which lie between September and April. With diminished light pollution, the dark skies in these months offer ideal conditions for stargazing. The Northern Lights are visible from several locations in the park, with Logan Pass, St. Mary Visitor Center, and various spots along Going-to-the-Sun Road being the top locations. Show more

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen