Glacier National Park is a great place to visit anytime of the year, but during the fall is an especially wonderful time. Hikers will have many options for viewing the beautiful fall colors, especially those of aspens and western larch.
Roughly 55% of Glacier National Park is covered by forest. Of that percentage, roughly 90% is coniferous forest. The remaining 10% is considered to be deciduous forest, and is primarily made up of aspen, western larch and black cottonwood.
Some of the best places to see aspens, in all their shimmering golden yellow and orange glory, are on the eastern side of the Continental Divide. Towards the end of September is usually the best time to see aspens at their peak, and some of the best trails to find them include Redrock Falls and Apikuni Falls in the Many Glacier area, Oldman Lake / Pitamakan Pass and Firebrand Pass in the Two Medicine area, the Beaver Pond Loop near the St. Mary entrance, as well as the Forest and Fire Nature Trail near the Camas Creek Entrance (just north of Apgar). Bowman Lake near the northwestern corner of the park is another great choice.
The western and southern portions of Glacier are some of the best places to see larch as they turn bright yellow during the mid-to-late October timeframe. Although western larch, also known as tamaracks, appears to be an evergreen, they’re actually needle-bearing deciduous trees. After turning golden yellow in the fall, the trees lose their needles, and appear to be dead during the winter months.
If you wish to hike among the larch during the fall, visit any of the trails from the Sperry Chalet trailhead near the Lake McDonald Lodge. Rocky Point on the western end of Lake McDonald is another great choice. Any of the trails on southern end of the park, such as Loneman Lookout, Scalplock Mountain Lookout or the South Boundary Trail, are all excellent options for viewing tamaracks at peak color.
The park strongly urges autumn hikers to make sure they are familiar with safety precautions while traveling in bear country, and to be prepared for variable temperatures and rapidly changing weather conditions.
Glacier National Park Hiking