Best time to travel to Montana

Cracker Lake in Montana

A beautiful lake in Montana's famous Glacier National Park

Best time: July–September

Cracker Lake
Cracker Lake
Cracker Lake

Cracker Lake is famous for its beautiful turquoise water color thanks to rock flour (silt) elements from Siyeh Glacier. Located at the head of a canyon, Cracker Lake is framed by Mount Siyeh, Cracker Peak, and Allen Mountain. The lake can be reached by a 6.1 mi (9.8 km) trail from the Piegan Pass with 1400 ft (427 m) elevation gain. The trailhead is located at the south end of the parking lot for the Many Glacier Hotel. After you reach the fork in the trail, take a left towards Cracker Lake.

The Cracker Lake trail goes through wooded forests, with beautiful mountains and lake views, creek crossings, waterfalls, abandoned mines, and much more. Once at the lake, hikers can relax at the beach and swim in clear water. The lake features a small campground to spend the night overlooking the water. Wildlife includes moose, marmots, and bear. Carrying a bear spray is recommended for any hike in Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park is the most popular destination in Montana called the Crown of the Continent. It boasts some of the most stunning views in North America. The best time to visit Glacier National Park is during the summer, from July through September (the second week of July through August is the most popular time). June and October could also work, but the higher elevations are likely to be blocked with snow.

Practical info

What causes the distinctive color of Cracker Lake's water?

The unusual, turquoise hue of Cracker Lake's water results from the presence of rock flour--minuscule particles of silt--contributed by Siyeh Glacier. These particles reflect sunlight, creating the striking color for which the lake is famous. Show more

Is there a preferred time of year to visit Glacier National Park?

Glacier National Park is most commonly visited during the warmer months between July and September, particularly from early July to August. For travelers not deterred by snow and cooler temperatures, June or October could be viable. Regardless of the time of year, hikers can always enjoy stunning vistas and exciting trails for leisure or more challenging excursions. Show more

What steps can hikers take to avoid danger from wildlife in Glacier National Park?

Hikers and backpackers exploring Glacier National Park need to prioritize safety and be mindful of the wildlife they encounter. It is recommended that hikers always carry bear spray and avoid surprising wildlife by making noise, moving in groups, and being cautious and alert. Food should be kept in bear-resistant containers and kept apart from tents and campsites. Show more

What else is there to see around Cracker Lake in addition to the lake itself?

There's much more to explore around Cracker Lake besides the lake itself. Visitors can explore the Siyeh Pass for panoramic perspectives, go on the Iceberg Lake Trail to catch a glimpse of icebergs in an alpine lake, visit the historic Many Glacier Hotel, and view the Swiftcurrent Falls. Hikers at Cracker Lake will also have the chance to see waterfalls, abandoned mines and more while taking in the beautiful scenery. Show more

What challenges can hikers expect to face on the Cracker Lake trail, and how should they prepare?

Hiking the Cracker Lake Trail can be demanding due to the rocky terrain, uneven trail surface, and creek crossings. Covering a total distance of 6.1 miles, the hike can be moderately challenging and therefore requires decent physical endurance. To ensure the safety of the hiker, they should bring enough water, wear sturdy hiking boots, carry insect repellent and be prepared for sudden weather shifts with rain gear. Show more

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Last updated: by Dari Vasiljeva