By Michael Lanza

Is it possible to find some degree of solitude backpacking in a national park as popular as Glacier? The answer is an unequivocal yes—even in Glacier’s relatively short peak season of mid-July through mid-September. And the strategies for doing so are remarkably simple and will not compromise the quality of your experience in other ways—in fact, encountering fewer people only increases the chances of encountering wildlife. This article describes five backpacking trips where you are virtually guaranteed to find solitude in Glacier National Park.

For backpackers, Glacier delivers one of the most unique wilderness experiences in the country, with scenery almost unmatched and a high likelihood of seeing a range of megafauna seen in few places in the Lower 48, including mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, and black and grizzly bears. I have enjoyed stretches of solitude on each of the several backpacking trips I’ve taken in Glacier over the past three decades—many of those years as the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and running this blog—including, most recently, while backpacking the Continental Divide Trail through the park.

Like most national parks, Glacier limits the number of people in the wilderness through its backcountry permit system, and many available permits get reserved in March for the entire summer; it’s best to submit a permit reservation application by March 15 for up to eight people, or by March 1 for a group of nine to 12 people. Read my “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit” and “How to Get a Last-Minute, National Park Backcountry Permit.”


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A moose in Red Eagle Lake, along the Continental Divide Trail in Glacier National Park.
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