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Visiting Glacier National Park With Dogs

There is no disputing the natural beauty of Glacier National Park. It’s an absolutely stunning place where the wilderness has remained untouched and the mountains reach to the sky. And it’s one of the few places in North America where all of our native carnivores still survive. Grizzly and black bears, wolves, and cougars roam the steep slopes and lush, green valleys.

For pet people traveling to Glacier National Park with dogs, however, protecting the national park and it’s inhabitants means severe restrictions on where pets are allowed to go.

Ty and Buster, the GoPetFriendly.com dogs, at Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park with Dogs

There are only two roads in Glacier. One runs north and south along the western edge of the park. The other is the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road that cuts east and west across the heart of the park for 50 miles. Going-to-the-Sun is the more popular of the two roads and takes about 3 hours to drive – each direction – if you stop for a few pictures along the way.

Ty and Buster at Glacier National Park, MT Glacier National Park, MT Glacier National Park, MT Ty and Buster at Glacier National Park, MT Glacier National Park, MT

Along Going-to-the-Sun Road, pets are allowed in developed areas, picnic areas, parking areas, and within 100 feet of roads. For your dog, it’s going to be a long day in the car. So, if you’re driving Going-to-the-Sun Road (and you should!), plan several short stops to get your pups out to stretch their legs.

Dog Friendly Hiking in Glacier National Park

There is only one trail in Glacier National Park that is dog friendly, and only when it’s not covered in snow. McDonald Creek Bike Path is a paved trail that runs 2.5 miles between West Glacier and Apgar Village. Buster and Ty suggest starting in West Glacier, grabbing an ice cream at Eddie’s when you get to Apgar, taking a rest by Lake McDonald, and then making your way back to the car.

Buster at McDonald Creek Bike Path - West Glacier, MT McDonald Creek Bike Path - West Glacier, MT McDonald Creek - West Glacier, MT Lake McDonald - Apgar Village, MT

Beyond Glacier – Pet Friendly Activities in the Area

Once you’ve done with Going-to-the-Sun Road and the McDonald Creek Bike Trail, there’s not much entertainment left in Glacier National Park for dogs. You could find a pet sitter or daycare to keep your dog company while you hike the park trails. Or you could explore the surrounding area for more activities to enjoy together!

 

Pet Friendly Hiking Near Glacier National Park

For dogs that hike, head south and hit one of the national forests with your pooch. Flathead, Kootenai, and Lewis and Clark National Forests are all within easy striking distance. And all the trails in all the national forests are pet friendly! Hungry Horse Reservoir in Flathead National Forest is especially beautiful and it felt like we had the trails to ourselves.

Remember, it’s possible you could meet wildlife on these trails, so take precautions. While dogs are allowed to be off-leash in most areas of the national forests, it’s not a good idea if they don’t have a reliable recall. Bears have also been known to pursue dogs, which could be dangerous for both you and your pup. We recommend investing in bear bells for yourself and your dogs. Letting the bears know that you’re coming is the best way to avoid meeting one!

READ MORE ⇒  More Tips for Hiking Safely With Pets

If you’d prefer an urban trail with less likelihood of wildlife encounters, check out the Swan River Trail in Bigfork. This is an easy 3-mile walk with nice views of the Swan River. And when you’re finished, walk into town for some shopping and a snack. We got lucky and arrived during an art festival!

Ty and Buster on Swan River Trail - Bigfork, MT Art Festival in Bigfork, MT

Take a Scenic Drive Around Flathead

Flathead Lake is twenty-seven miles long, stretches up to fifteen miles wide, and is one of the cleanest lakes in the populated world for it’s size. The clear water turns a beautiful turquoise blue in the sunlight. Orchards dot the eastern shore and small towns spread along the western shore. Explore the crystal waters by car, or rent a canoe for a fun day on the lake.

Flathead Lake, MT Flathead Lake, MT Flathead Lake, MT

Go for a Walk Around Whitefish

Whitefish is a quaint resort town tucked between Whitefish Lake and the Whitefish Mountain Range. While you’re there, explore the many trails, check out the award-winning restaurants, or stop by the five-acre Hugh Rogers Dog Park in Armory Park.

Ty and Buster in Whitefish, MT

Where to Stay

We camped in an RV park very close to the national park entrance in West Glacier, and wouldn’t recommend that choice. After two days, we’d seen all we could in Glacier National Park with the dogs. We spent the rest of our visit driving to Bigfork and Whitefish where there were more pet friendly activities. My suggestion is to find a pet friendly hotel or campground around Whitefish for your stay.

READ MORE ⇒  Barking Dogs in Hotels: Tips for a Quiet Stay

Pet Travel Challenges

One of the challenges of traveling with pets is finding restaurants where you can eat together. Unfortunately, we did not find a great selection of pet friendly eateries in the area. That means pet travelers should plan on getting take-out or booking accommodations that allow you to prepare your own meals.

 

 

Gear Used in This Post:
(Affiliate Links)

Freedom No-Pull Harness

Alcott Martingale Collar

Alcott Weekender Leash

Sleepypod Clickit Car Safety Harness

See all the gear we use to make traveling with our pets easier, safer, and more fun!

 

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  • Becky says:

    Thanks so much for this great post, we will be making this trip in September. Appreciate all the insight!

  • Eileen says:

    Can we leave our dog in the car and hike?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Eileen! Glacier does not have specific rules about leaving pets unattended in cars. But, like anywhere else, you’d want to be very careful to ensure the temperature inside the vehicle is safe for your dog, and only leave him or her for short periods of time. Thanks for your note, and have a great trip!

  • Britt says:

    This will be our 1st trip to Montana this summer. Awesome info…thanks! Appreciate the tip about not staying close to the NP. We are staying in Polson, at a campground on Flathead Lake and will make that base camp for 5 days while we explore the area.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      That sounds fantastic, Britt! The area around Flathead Lake is gorgeous and I’m sure you’ll all have a terrific time. Waggin’ trails!

  • Thanks for the insider tips, Addy – we appreciate it!

  • Addy Austin says:

    Hi there! Just wanted to add some insight to travelers in Whitefish. Whitefish State Park is a great place to camp with pets and is right on Whitefish Lake and is at the base of Lion Mountain and the Whitefish Trail. Also, dogs can accompany their owners when dining at an establishment with a patio. Check out Stillwater Fish House!

  • Hi Karen! What a fantastic adventure you’ll taking – I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time. I find that having an RV is the most convenient way of traveling with our dogs. It becomes “home” to them and they get comfortable, rather than having to adjust to a new environment every time you move. Also, there’s a lot less packing and unpacking, which I appreciate! Visiting the national parks can be a bit of a challenge with dogs, but there are certainly ways to do it and many things to see just outside the parks that your dog will be able to enjoy with you. I’ve written oodles of blog posts to help, so just do your research and I’m sure you’ll find plenty to enjoy. Good luck, and waggin’ trails!

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