January 29, 2023

Visiting Glacier National Park With Dogs

Brown and white dog sitting on a rock in Glacier National Park in Montana

Updated: November 2021
Originally Posted: August 2013

There is no disputing the natural beauty of Glacier National Park. But for people traveling with pets, Glacier can be a challenge. Learn how to make the most of your pet friendly visit.

Brown and white dog sitting on a rock in Glacier National Park in Montana


Glacier is 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 people traveling to Glacier National Park with dogs, however, protecting the national park and its inhabitants means severe restrictions on where pets are allowed to go.

Glacier National Park with Dogs

There are only a few roads in Glacier. One runs north and south along the western edge of the park. Highway 2 runs from East Glacier Park Villiage to West Glacier. And the most famous, Going-to-the-Sun Road, cuts east and west across the heart of the park for 50 miles.

Two dogs sitting in front of the stone and wood entry sign for Glacier National Park in Montana.
A view of mountains with glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road is, by far, the most popular route for seeing the park. Driving it takes about 3 hours – each direction – if you stop for a few pictures along the way. And why wouldn’t you want to stop for pictures?

A brown dog standing at an overlook of mountains in Glacier National Park, Montana
View of a calm river with pines and mountains in the background at Glacier National Park, Montana


Are Pets Allowed Along Going-to-the-Sun Road?

Along Going-to-the-Sun Road, pets are allowed in developed areas. That means picnic areas, parking areas, and within 100 feet of roads. For your dog, it’s going to be a long day in the car.

If you’re driving Going-to-the-Sun Road (and you should!), plan to make several short stops along the way to get your pups out to stretch their legs.

A white dog standing at an overlook of mountains and a river in Glacier National Park, Montana


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.

We 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 trail head.

Buster at McDonald Creek Bike Path - West Glacier, MT
McDonald Creek Bike Path - West Glacier, MT
McDonald Creek - West Glacier, MT
Looking through some trees at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, Montana


Beyond Glacier – Pet Friendly Activities in the Area

Once you’ve done 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 feels like you have the trails to yourselves.

A brown dog hiking a trail among pine trees in Flathead National Forest in Montana


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 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

Urban Hiking

If you prefer urban trails 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.

After your walk, do a little shopping and stop for a snack in town. We got lucky and happened to be there during an art festival!

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


Take a Scenic Drive Around Flathead

A short drive south of Glacier, 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 its 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.

A white dog and a brown dog in front of a Flathead Lake, Montana
View of the rocky, pine covered shoreline of Flathead Lake, Montana


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

Pet Friendly Accommodations Near Glacier National Park

We camped in an RV park very close to the national park entrance in West Glacier, and wouldn’t recommend that option. After two days, we’d seen all we could in Glacier National Park with the dogs and spent the rest of our time exploring outside the park.

We’d suggest finding a pet friendly hotel, vacation rental, or campground around Whitefish for your stay.

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

Small white dog laying on a bed in a pet friendly hotel room

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 where you’ll be able to prepare your own meals.

We hope our experience helps you enjoy your pet friendly trip to Glacier National Park!

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Published at Tue, 02 Nov 2021 05:30:00 -0400

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