Skis and snowshoes are the order of the day for six months of the year in northwest Montana's Glacier Country. In Glacier National Park, snow clings to high-country passes until late July, and you can only drive most of the scenic 55-mile-long Going-to-the-Sun Road from early June to mid-October. Still, the park is open year 'round, and hikers usually find its 730 miles of trails passable by mid-June.
Whatever the time of the year, the park offers breathtaking scenery--jagged mountains and hanging valleys sculpted by glacial ice, towering cliffs, 300-foot waterfalls, and clear, ice-blue lakes begging to be fished. The park's heavily wooded 1.2 million acres are home to elk, moose, black and grizzly bear, and wolves. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats leap from crag to crag, and, during the summer, white-tail and mule deer graze on a carpet of wildflowers.
Going-to-the-Sun Road spans the width of the Park and crosses the Continental Divide at 6646-foot-high Logan Pass. The two-lane road is paved, but due to its steep, narrow nature, vehicles are restricted to 21 feet in length and a maximum width of eight feet, including mirrors. The road ends at Saint Mary along the eastern edge of the Park, where the shockingly flat, tan expanse of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, established in 1851, stretches before you.
Highway 89 North to Chief Mountain International Highway (17) will take you across the border into Canada and the upper portion of a park that bridges two nations. Established in 1895, the 203-square-mile Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, and Glacier, circa 1910, became the International Peace Park in 1932.
If the Sun Road is closed, take Highway 2 to Browning from the West Glacier entrance to the Park. The road runs alongside Amtrak rails, and the train still stops before the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. Built for the Great Northern Railway train crews in 1939, the historic Inn is a year 'round resort. Whether guests come for whitewater rafting in the summer or crosscountry skiing in winter, they eat in the Dining Car Restaurant and sleep in a cozy room or a standalone caboose.