19 Places to Visit when Glacier National Park is too Crowded

Everyone loves the iconic Glacier National Park, but when you want a day away from the crowds, here is our list of great places to wander.

A Big Horn Sheet in Glacier National Park
A beautiful bighorn sheep overlooking the Highland trail in Glacier National Park

There is nothing like hiking along the spectacular trails in Glacier National Park. But let’s face it, the vehicle pass, the road construction, crowds, long waits for food, long waits for boat rides and shuttles. Some days it can feel more like a theme park than a national park. Worry not dear friends, Montana is a big place with lots of room to roam. Here are a few places to hike, dine and just go for a long leisurely drive.

Enjoy all the beauty that Big Sky Country has to offer.

Places to Explore:

  • 1. Hungry Horse Reservoir– try one of the many trails in the recreation area, camp, picnic or try some boating or fly fishing. There are loads of great secret spots the locals know about. Pro Tip: take bear spray, bug spray and bear proof storage for your food. Photo (above) is from a hike a few years ago in the Hungry Horse recreation area.
  • 2. Kootenai Angler and River Bend Restaurant- travel out to Libby along the beautiful Kootenai river and discover fantastic fly fishing with no crowds. There’s a great restaurant at the Lodge as well.
  • Three Forks– 3. The Bleu Horses and 4. Wheat Montana Cafe – Travel the spectacular Hwy 287 and pull over at Wheat Montana to see the 39 metal horse on the hilltop near the cafe. Don’t forget to grab a cinnamon bun!
  • 5. Bar W Trail Rides– Just 5 minutes north of Whitefish, lies a beautiful ranch nestled at the base of Spencer Mountains, the Bar W. The new owners have put time and effort into creating a great trail ride for the entire family without having to travel all the way into Glacier Park.
  • 6. Flower Point on the Danny On trail, Whitefish Mountain, Whitefish. Take this short detour on the Danny On trail for beautiful jaw dropping views and a little piece of heaven. Pro Tip: Stop at the rock outcropping for a great picnic spot further downtime trail. Don’t feed the marmots!
  • 7. Lone Pine State Park– Where will you find the locals onto weekend- probably at Lone Pine. 7 miles of trails, views and lots of places to picnic. Just south of Kalispell on 289 acres. Pro tip: grab a pie or desserts from Fleur, Loula’s, Alpine market or Markus Foods in Whitefish for a posh picnic.
  • Rent a boat in Lakeside and tour 8. Wild Horse Island– Visit the incredible stone mansion on a private island, see wild horses, big horn sheep and deer on Wild Horse Island. Picnic in the one of the many coves. Flathead Lake is the largest natural lake (by surface- Tahoe is deeper) west of the Mississippi. t afterwards, take in the local flavor with a cocktail at the iconic 9. Spinnaker lounge or 10. Maverick’s Casino in Lakeside.
  • Play a round of golf at 11. Northern Pine Golf Course– A far less crowded, 7015 yard, Scottish links style course with open vistas in every direction.
two chocolate mil shakes in tall glasses
a pair of mouthwatering milkshakes form Norm’s News

Great places to grab a bite without big crowds: The locals love these places.

  • 12. Norm’s News, Kalispell- an old fashioned soda fountain with hand made burgers and the best milk shakes this side of the Mississippi. Penny candy just like when you were a kid.
  • 13. Sykes diner– Kalispell- 10 cent coffee, great pies and massive portions. take the entire family for budget friendly good diner food.
  • 14. Whitefish Farmer’s Market Food Trucks- Every Tuesday through late September, 5:00-7:30pm. Whitefish. Try the brisket at 406 BBQ, a fresh Mountain Berry bowl or grab a poke bowl from Wild Child Food Truck. There are almost a dozen trucks to choose from. Pro Tip: bring a blanket. there is limited seating at the Farmer’s Market. Fur babies are NOT allowed.
  • 15. Sacred Waters Brewing : Just north of the airport on Hwy. 2. Columbia Falls. Great food. Live music, patio seating and lots and lots of beer.
  • Moose’s saloon, Kalispell . Great bar and fantastic pizza. Don’t leave without grabbing a t-shirt.
  • 16. Sweet Peaks– Kalispell location . The lines at the Whitefish location can be long. If you are in Kalispell, pop into this location for the same great ice cream, without the long wait.
  • The 17. KM Bar and 18. Mercantile Steak House– We all love the Whitefish Lake Restaurant, but reservations book out over a month. A fantastic steak is waiting for you in the historic KM building (built in 1892) at the Mercantile.
  • 19. The Sitting Duck, Bigfork. Flathead lake views, pet friendly, one of the oldest bars on the east side of the Flathead valley. Come for the view. Stay for the drinks. Prime Rib every Friday and Saturday.
a log gate leading down a driveway to a ranch
The Bar W has fantastic trail rides

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  1. Sarah Graves says:

    I am new to this adventure of yours that’s been going on for awhile but the apple cider vinegar got me started and now I am HOOKED! You do a fabulous job Meggan and now I am going to try and come up with of John’s and my favorite “made in Oklahoma” products to share with you and Brian.
    Thanks for everything. Can’t wait to try and make the Lemoncello.

    1. Meggen Wilson says:

      Thank you so much Sarah! Would love to have something from OK for my pantry or recipe file. Can’t wait!