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

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. In Glacier National Park, hike the lush Trail of the Cedars along Avalanche Creek to Avalanche Gorge. Experience the thrill of whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead, a perfect adventure for all ages and skill levels. You’ll travel the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road, renowned for its landscape of deep valleys, glacial features, craggy mountains, wildflowers, and wildlife. During a variety of hikes, discover the scenic wonders at Many Glacier, where mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears are often observed. And take a scenic cruise to Goat Haunt on Waterton Lake, where you’ll enjoy the panorama of majestic towering cliffs, unusual geological formations, beautiful waterfalls, and snowcapped mountain peaks, and scan the hillsides for bear, moose, and other wildlife. You’ll also learn about the traditions and arts of the Blackfeet nation at the Museum of the Plains Indian. Limited to 24 participants.

August 26 — Arrive Kalispell, Montana, Glacier National Park

Individual arrivals in to Kalispell Airport in Kalispell, Montana by 12:00 p.m. Depart for Glacier National Park. Arrive and historic Lake McDonald Lodge, located along the shores of Lake McDonald, the deepest of all the lakes in Glacier National Park. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner and opening remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Please note: In order to be on time for the group departure, we recommend that participants arrive in Kalispell on August 25. Lodging suggestions will be provided. (D)

August 27 — Trail of the Cedars, Whitewater River Rafting
This morning, depart for the Trail of the Cedars, this scenic 1.5-mile round-trip hike follows Avalanche Creek through old growth forest. Avalanche Gorge lies at the apex of the loop, with swirling waters and sculpted argillite walls. In the afternoon, enjoy a white-water rafting adventure on the Middle Fork of the Flathead. The Middle Fork is a classic white-water river, perfect for all ages and no rafting experience is required. Enjoy dinner back at Lake McDonald Lodge. (B,L,D)

August 28 — Going-to-the-Sun Road
Depart Lake McDonald Lodge for the Going-to-the-Sun Road and enjoy 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. Late in the day arrive at St. Mary Lodge. (B,L,D)

August 29 — Many Glacier
Depart St. Mary Lodge for the wildlife and scenic wonders at Many Glacier. Mountain goats are common on Grinnell Point, while bighorn sheep are seen near Ptarmigan Lake. Grizzly bears are often sighted on the treeless slopes above Many Glacier. This afternoon, drive north in to Canada, past the legendary Chief Mountain, and on to Waterton Lakes National Park sister park to Glacier forming the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Arrival and check into Waterton Lakes Resort. (B,L,D)

August 30 — Waterton Lake, Goat Haunt
Waterton Lake is a long, magnificent lake, stretching from Waterton Township through the mountains across the international border into Glacier National Park. Board the historic M.V. International for a scenic cruise to Goat Haunt at the far end of the lake. 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. (B,L,D)

August 31 — Blackfeet Tribe
Travel south to Browning, Montana for a fascinating look at contemporary Indian culture. The Museum of the Plains Indian displays richly varied arts of Northern Plains tribal peoples. Their historic clothing, horse gear, weapons, household implements, baby carriers, and toys highlight the exhibits. A Blackfeet historian shares their perspective on Native American history and Blackfeet tradition as we explore the reservation. Continue along Glacier’s southern boundary, over stunning Marias Pass, to end our day in the charming ski village of Whitefish. Enjoy a festive farewell dinner and overnight at Pine Lodge. (B,L,D)

September 1 — Kalispell, Home
Following breakfast, depart for the short drive to Kalispell airport for flights home. (B)