Glacier National Park Weather

Glacier National Park weather is fickle and unpredictable, even in the summer. Educate yourself and keep your family safe during your Montana vacation.

The weather in Glacier National Park is a force that should not be taken lightly. Even visitors to Glacier National Park in the summer must be prepared for a gauntlet of weather patterns, such as freezing rain, snow, 100 degree days, 20 degree nights-it’s crazy ou there!

Visitors should be fully aware of what the weather is like in Glacier National Park and be prepared – your comfort and safety may ultimately depend upon it.

Any visit to Glacier National Park is likely to be an outdoor event with exposure to the elements, which can be harsh at any time of year. Hiking, mountain climbing, cycling and even a mild stroll to Avalanche Lake can be tough if the weather turns against you, so even if visiting Glacier National Park in the summer, you must be prepared for the challenge!

What’s the weather like
in Glacier National Park, Montana?

Here’s a quick rundown of what the weather is like in Glacier National Park, season by season:

  • Glacier National Park weather in Spring: Snow. Cold overnight and early morning temperatures averaging 25F (minus 4C) rising to 65F (18C). March and April see some of the driest weather in Glacier National Park.
  • Glacier National Park in the Summer: Rainfall is frequent, with 2-3 inches (5-7cm) per month. Snow at higher elevations. Frequent thunderstorms, lightning and hail are typical of Glacier National Park weather. Daytime highs 60-70F (15-25C), but can reach 90F (32C) in sheltered lower valleys. Nighttime lows around 40F (7C).
  • Glacier National Park in Fall: Snowy conditions. Daytime averages range from 30-55F (minus 1 to 13C). Cold winds from the eastern plains.
  • Glacier National Park weather in Winter: Very cold! Significant snowfall, especially in the west. Variable skiing conditions and icy roads. Many areas are inaccessible. Temperatures continuously below freezing with average lows of 15F (minus 9C) overnight.Are you sure you still want to visit?

Why is Glacier National Park weather so crazy?

Glacier National Park spans the Pacific-Atlantic divide and has many different pockets and microclimates. The Rockies disrupt the movement of air currents over the North American continent, leading to a very different climate between the east and west side of the park.

The western side of Glacier is in the Pacific watershed. The Alaska current has a warming influence on the western side of the park but it is also the wettest side.

If you’re staying in Lake McDonald Lodge, be prepared for wet days and rainforest like conditions.

The eastern side is sunnier, drier and colder, but also windier from the Great Plains.

Due to the huge variance in the elevation and the extensive area covered, Glacier National Park weather does not fit into a single climate, but as a general rule, the higher you climb, the colder it gets.

Rapid temperature changes are typical of weather in Glacier National Park (in the summer, too!). The world record was a drop of 100F (56C) overnight on January 23-24, 1916 when it dropped from 44F to minus 56F, so be warned. The temperatures are as up and down as the landscape!

Hiking Clothes Needed for Glacier National Park Weather

To cope with such a range of temperatures, I wear plenty of layers of thin, hiking clothing.

Specialist hiking shirts and pants are made with wicking material that is both lightweight and enables you to layer appropriately (the best hiking pants convert into shorts!).

Dressing like this is necessary in the harsh Glacier National Park weather, even if visiting in the summer.

As the temperatures change you can easily add or remove layers as necessary. A windproof, waterproof jacket is a must and you may need sunscreen and sunglasses.

Visiting Glacier National Park in the Summer

Many areas are only accessible in Glacier National Park in the summer, so this is definitely the best season to visit.

I have experienced several seasons in a single day with the fickle Glacier National Park weather, so the best advice I can give potential visitors is to be prepared for anything!

Dress in layers, be prepared for winter weather in Glacier National Park–and always have enough water for your hike.

I’ve seen too many hikers with a single water bottle on a 90 degree day. This will not cut it. If you are visiting Glacier National Park in the summer, expect 100 degree days and a scorching sun. Dehydration is a more dangerous threat than a grizzly bear attack.

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Glacier National Park weather to Glacier Park Travel Guide

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