Exploring Glacier and Waterton National Parks

Enjoy views of snowcapped mountain peaks, lush alpine meadows, and spectacular glacier-fed lakes during hikes and walks in Montana's Glacier National Park and Alberta's Waterton Lakes National Park.

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 Vivid sunset over Glacier National Park.  Credit: Tom Crouse  Waterton Village  Many Glacier at Glacier National Park  Black bear in the wild   Bald Eagle in flight  Glacier National Park.  Credit: Ryan Grayson

Montana’s Glacier National Park and Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park form the first international Peace Park and protect a vast wilderness of spectacular geology, diverse wildlife, and vivid wildflowers. Discover nature at its best on this new outdoor program, accompanied by a top naturalist who leads leisurely hikes and walks through breathtaking valleys surrounded by snowcapped mountains. You’ll travel the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road, renowned for its landscape of deep valleys, glacial features, craggy mountains, wildflowers, and wildlife. Discover the wonders at Many Glacier during a variety of hikes, view massive mountains, active glaciers, sparkling lakes, and abundant wildlife and learn why this area is a favorite for visitors the world over. Travel north to Canada and Waterton National Park, marvel at windswept mountains that rise abruptly out of gentle prairie grassland and experience several different ecological regions in a landscape shaped by wind, fire, flooding, and abundant plants and wildlife. Bring along your binoculars, we’ll keep a constant lookout for moose, big horn sheep, mountain goats, bears and more. Stay at comfortable and charming lodges throughout our journey. Limited to 16 participants.


July 19 — Arrive Kalispell, Montana, Glacier National Park, Going-to-the-Sun Road

This morning we will meet at your Whitefish Hotel at 9:00 AM and depart for Glacier National Park. First, we will see spectacular Lake McDonald, the deepest of all the lakes in Glacier National Park. Travel the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road on the iconic Red Jammers, enjoying breathtaking views at every turn, from deep valleys, glacial features, craggy mountains, and abundant wildlife. Look for Blue grouse, bald and golden eagles, bear, deer, and mountain goats foraging on the slopes. This evening check in to Many Glacier Hotel and enjoy a welcome dinner and opening remarks on your adventure by your Smithsonian Journeys Experts. Please note: In order to be on time for the morning group departure, we recommend that participants arrive into Glacier International Airport and transfer the 11 miles to Whitefish on Saturday, July 18. Lodging suggestion in Whitefish will be provided. (L,D)

July 20 — Many Glacier

After breakfast take a quick stroll around Many Glacier Hotel, a National Historic Landmark, with original construction dating back to 1915. Then, we have the full day to hike and explore the beautiful Many Glacier area of this spectacular National Park. Look for wildlife such as Mountain goats, which are common on Grinnell Point, bighorn sheep often seen near Ptarmigan Lake and Grizzly bears which, if you’re lucky, can be seen foraging on the treeless slopes above Many Glacier. (B,L,D)

July 21 — Many Glacier, Waterton Lakes National Park

After breakfast we depart for the Canadian border, enjoying stops along the way to stretch our legs, take in the scenery, and discuss majestic Chief Mountain’s religious significance with the Blackfeet Nation. We arrive in Waterton Lakes National Park in time for lunch before an afternoon boat cruise across Upper Waterton Lake, a long, magnificent lake, stretching from Waterton Township through the mountains across the international border into Glacier National Park. View majestic towering cliffs, unusual geological formations, beautiful waterfalls, and snow-clad mountain peaks. Scan the hillsides for bear, moose, mountain sheep, and mountain goats. Later in the day, check in to Waterton Lakes Lodge. Gather with fellow travelers and your Smithsonian Journeys Experts this evening for dinner and lively conversation about today’s adventures. (B,L,D)

July 22 — Waterton Lakes National Park, Elk Valley British Columbia

After a hearty breakfast, we’ll depart the hotel for hikes and walks in the area. Outings will be based on the interest and skill level of the group. Set out north towards Pincher Creek and then west to the town of Frank where we will discover the town’s unique history as a mining enclave and learn about the devastating Frank Slide of 1903. Continue on to the beautiful Elk Valley, surrounded by rugged mountain ranges in all directions. Check in to the secluded Island Lake Lodge, a private enclave surrounded by over 7,000 acres of wilderness nestled deep in the Canadian Rockies. This evening gather with fellow travelers and your Smithsonian Journeys Experts for a festive dinner at Island Lake’s gourmet restaurant. (B,L,D)

July 23 — Elk Valley, Fernie

This morning you’ll have the opportunity to take shorter hikes through cedar boreal forest located right outside your door.  For the more adventuresome there will be an option for a more strenuous afternoon hike. If time allows, you may also have the option to visit the close by town of Fernie, which features many historic 19th century homes and buildings. This evening we’ll gather together for a final farewell dinner together. (B,L,D)

July 24 —Elk Valley, Kalispell, Montana, Home 

This morning, depart Elk Valley and travel south to the US Border. Cross in to Montana and return to Kalispell and Glacier Park International Airport for afternoon flights home. (B,L)