Montana’s Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park offer breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, and outdoor activities. Planning a trip to these parks can be overwhelming due to their size and numerous attractions. However, a 7-day itinerary is available to help make the most of your time in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. From hiking to wildlife watching, this itinerary covers the top attractions and activities to ensure an unforgettable adventure in Montana’s national parks.
Introduction to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park
Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park are two iconic and gorgeous national parks in the United States. Glacier National Park in Montana is famous for its craggy mountains, scenic lakes, and glaciers. Yellowstone National Park, located mostly in Wyoming, is recognized for its geothermal wonders, such as the iconic Old Faithful geyser, diverse fauna, and stunning vistas.
These parks provide a unique opportunity to enjoy nature, see beautiful wildlife, and participate in a variety of outdoor activities. This 7-day itinerary from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone will take you through the attractions of both parks, ensuring you get the most out of your vacation. From beautiful drives and hiking paths to wildlife sightings and compelling geological wonders, these natural treasures provide an unforgettable trip for anyone.
Day 1: Arrival and Exploration of Glacier National Park
On Day 1, embark on an epic adventure through Glacier National Park, a breathtaking landscape filled with rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and abundant wildlife. Drive along the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, marveling at towering peaks, cascading waterfalls, and dense forests. Stop at Logan Pass for panoramic views of valleys and glaciers. Explore the park’s trails, such as the Hidden Lake Trail and the Highline Trail, to witness the diverse flora and fauna.
As the day draws to a close, witness a breathtaking sunset over one of the tranquil lakes, creating a mesmerizing vista that will stay with you forever. Return to your accommodation and enjoy a delicious meal while reminiscing about the day’s adventures. Rest assured, Glacier National Park offers many more incredible experiences to come.
Day 2: Hiking adventures in Glacier National Park
On Day 2, your 7-day itinerary in Glacier National Park focuses on hiking adventures to experience the breathtaking beauty of nature. Begin with a hearty breakfast at one of the park’s lodges or nearby cafes. Choose your chosen hike from a wide range of trails, catering to both beginners and seasoned hikers.
More so, for a moderate challenge, the Highline Trail offers stunning views of glaciers, alpine meadows, and towering peaks. For a more strenuous hike, the Grinnell Glacier Trail offers breathtaking views of Grinnell Lake and the glacier. For a shorter, family-friendly walk, the Trail of the Cedars is an excellent choice, offering a peaceful and enchanting experience through a lush forest of ancient cedar trees.
After a day of hiking adventures, take some time to relax and unwind. Enjoy a picnic lunch at a scenic spot along the trail or return to your accommodation for a rest. In the evening, consider joining a ranger-led program or attending a campfire talk to learn about the park’s rich natural and cultural history. Remember to pack water, snacks, sunscreen, appropriate clothing, and footwear, and prioritize safety by adhering to park regulations, staying on designated trails, and being bear-aware.
Day 3: Scenic Drives and Wildlife Spotting in Yellowstone
On day three of your 7-day itinerary, embark on a scenic drive through Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. Drive along the Grand Loop Road, a 142-mile route, and be on the lookout for the diverse wildlife. The Lamar Valley, known as the “Serengeti of North America,” is a highlight of the park, with herds of bison, elk, and pronghorn, as well as occasional sightings of wolves and grizzly bears. Bring binoculars and a camera to witness nature’s incredible displays.
As you continue along the Grand Loop Road, you’ll encounter several other scenic spots worth exploring. Artists Paintpots offers unique geothermal features, such as ding bubbling mud pots and colorful hot springs. The Norris Geyser Basin is a dynamic thermal area in Yellowstone, with its geysers, hot springs, and steam vents showcasing the park’s wonders.
Finally, head towards the Hayden Valley, another wildlife-rich area with picturesque views and opportunities to spot various animals. Keep an eye out for majestic herds of bison, graceful trumpeter swans, and a glimpse of a bald eagle. After a day of scenic drives and wildlife encounters, return to your accommodation or a nearby hotel to rest and rejuvenate for the next day’s adventures.
Day 4: Exploring the Geothermal Wonders of Yellowstone
On Day 4, your 7-day itinerary in Yellowstone National Park focuses on exploring the geothermal wonders. Start at the iconic Upper Geyser Basin, home to the world-famous Old Faithful geyser, which erupts every 90 minutes, shooting hot water high into the sky. Be sure to check the predicted eruption times to avoid missing out on this natural marvel. Explore the surrounding geothermal features, such as bubbling hot springs, vibrant bacteria mats, and hissing steam vents. Marvel at the Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the largest hot springs in the world, and capture the perfect Instagram-worthy photo.
Additionally, explore the Norris Geyser Basin, known for its diverse range of features. Witness the powerful eruptions of Steamboat Geyser, the tallest active geyser in the world, and witness the ever-changing landscape shaped by geothermal activity. Don’t miss the fascinating Mud Volcano area, where boiling mud pots, fumaroles, and sulfur-scented steam rise from the ground. Take a short hike to Dragon’s Mouth Spring, where you’ll hear the sound of roaring steam and water surging from a cave-like opening.
End your day at Mammoth Hot Springs, where you’ll explore the intricate terraces formed by the constant flow of hot water cascading down the hillside. Witness the dynamic formations created by mineral deposits and marvel at the ever-changing patterns and colors.
Day 5: Waterfalls, Lakes, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
On Day 5, your ultimate 7-day itinerary in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone promises breathtaking natural wonders. Begin your day with a visit to the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, where the mist rises from the cascading water, creating a magical atmosphere and a vibrant backdrop. The Lower Falls is a mesmerizing sight, with its cascading water and vibrant colors creating an extraordinary location.
Next, explore the serene Yellowstone Lake, a vast expanse of crystal-clear water that offers a serene and tranquil setting. Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and marvel at the surrounding snow-capped peaks. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider renting a kayak or paddleboard to experience the lake’s serenity up close.
As the day progresses, make your way to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, an awe-inspiring natural wonder showcasing the park’s geological wonders. The canyon walls are vibrant, with colors ranging from deep reds to striking yellows. Follow the rim trails to various viewpoints, such as Inspiration Point and Grand View, to capture panoramic vistas of the canyon and the roaring Yellowstone River below.
End the day with a relaxing picnic near one of the park’s picturesque lakes. Find a peaceful spot, unwind, and reflect on the wonders you’ve witnessed throughout the day. As the sun sets, you’ll realize that Day 5 was nothing short of a remarkable journey through the waterfalls, lakes, and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Day 6: Wildlife Watching and Hiking in Lamar Valley
On Day 6 of your 7-day itinerary, you’ll visit the breathtaking Lamar Valley, known as the “Serengeti of North America” due to its abundant wildlife and scenic beauty. Begin your day early to spot iconic wildlife such as bison, elk, wolves, and grizzly bears, which are known as the “Serengeti of North America.” Join a guided wildlife tour led by experienced naturalists to gain insights into the park’s inhabitants’ behavior and habitat, as well as identify various bird species.
After an exhilarating morning of wildlife watching, take a break for a picnic lunch to appreciate the vast landscape and the harmony of nature. In the afternoon, hike on one of the scenic trails through the Lamar Valley, such as the Specimen Ridge Trail, which offers stunning views and unique geological formations. If you’re up for a longer hike, consider the Slough Creek Trail, which leads to the picturesque Slough Creek Campground.
As the day draws to a close, find a peaceful spot to enjoy the beauty of the Lamar Valley during the golden hour, with the soft hues of the setting sun casting a warm glow on the rugged mountains and vast grasslands. Return to your accommodation with a sense of awe and appreciation for the wonders of nature in Lamar Valley.
Day 7: Last Day in the Parks and Departing
As Glacier National Park and Yellowstone come to an end, take the last day to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes and reflect on the incredible adventures and memories you’ve made. Wake up early to catch the sunrise over the mountain peaks and reflect on the past week’s adventures. Prioritize any must-see attractions and check those off your bucket list to truly immerse yourself in the natural wonders of these national parks.
In the afternoon, indulge in a leisurely picnic or scenic lunch at one of the park’s designated picnic areas, savoring the flavors while surrounded by the awe-inspiring beauty of nature. As the day progresses, take the opportunity to soak in the stunning landscapes one last time and keep an eye out for wildlife sightings.
Capture these last moments on camera to cherish the memories for years to come. Before leaving the parks, consider stopping by a visitor center to gather final information, purchase souvenirs, or learn about future trips. Park rangers can provide valuable insights and recommendations for future visits or other national parks to explore.
Finally, as you bid farewell to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone, take a moment to appreciate the transformative power of nature and the incredible adventures that await in other corners of the world. Depart with a sense of gratitude for the memories created, knowing that these national parks will always hold a special place in your heart.