13 Epic Stops on a Seattle to Glacier National Park Road Trip

seattle to glacier national park road trip
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While there are many drives that I love going on from Seattle, a Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip is one of the most scenic ones. You’ll get to explore the stunning landscapes of Washington, Idaho, and Montana while stopping in a mix of big cities and smaller ones worth checking out. Many people also don’t realize how doable this drive is, which is why I wanted to write a detailed itinerary to encourage you to go on your own trip.

Seattle is the perfect jumping-off point for all the road trips I do, but I always thought Montana was so far away that it wasn’t worth the drive. Luckily, I finally went there a few years ago and fell in love with the state, so I’m going to list all the best stops on a drive from Seattle to Glacier National Park for you to choose from.

In this guide, I’ll go over all the best destinations to visit along your Seattle to Glacier National Park route as well as a sample 5-day Seattle to Glacier itinerary to give you an idea of how to split your time up. Let’s get started!

Tips for a Seattle to Glacier National Park Drive

glacier national park

To make your trip easier to plan, here are some tips for a Seattle to Glacier National Park drive.

What is the drive time from Seattle to Glacier?

The Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip typically takes about 10 hours of driving time, but that’s if you drive straight through without stopping anywhere. This can vary greatly depending on the route you take and how many stops you have along the way, as well as driving conditions. I always check the WSDOT website before any trip to ensure there aren’t any delays or closures I should know about.

What is the driving distance from Seattle to Glacier National Park?

The Seattle to Glacier National Park distance is about 550 miles long, again depending on which way you decide to go or additional stops to make. While you could technically drive this in one very long day, I don’t advise that at all (similar to a Seattle to Crater Lake drive where I recommend breaking it up). You’ll be exhausted, which is a danger in itself and won’t see any of these stops during the route.

What is the best time to go on a road trip from Seattle to Glacier National Park?

The best time to go on a Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip is from June to September. Much of the snow has melted by then, meaning it’s easier to drive on the roads, and you’ll be able to do more hiking if that’s your goal.

The weather in Glacier National Park during the summer range from the mid-50s to the low-80s, with occasional highs reaching into the 90s at the end of summer. However, it can get down to the 40s at night, so pack warm clothes.

Similar to a Seattle to San Francisco drive, you can go on a Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip year-round, but the roads leading directly into the park are often closed during the winter months due to heavy snowfall. One of the more popular roads there, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, can close as early as October and re-open in late May.

Make sure to buy your America the Beautiful pass ahead of time so you can easily enter all the national parks for a low price.

Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip map

Here’s a visual to use so you can see all the stops I’ll be recommending. Keep in mind that there are multiple ways to drive to Glacier National Park from Seattle, so these stops aren’t necessarily all consecutive. For example, you can take I-5 east go there to see the stops along that way, and then come back taking Highway 2.

13 Stops on a Seattle to Glacier National Park Road Trip

Now it’s time to decide where you want to stop on your Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip! Here are my recommended destinations.

1. Seattle

downtown seattle pike place

If you’re not from the area or if you’re doing this trip backward and driving from Glacier National Park to Seattle, you’ll want to take some time to explore the city. I recommend starting at Pike Place Market early in the morning before the tourists get there later.

You also may want to visit Seattle’s iconic Space Needle, get lunch at the Seattle Center, and or admire the Chihuly Garden and Glass while you’re there.

There are plenty of amazing places to eat, but I’ll give you some of my favorite recommendations as a local. For breakfast, try Seattle’s famous Local 360 in Belltown, which makes all of its dishes from scratch and uses ingredients from within a 360-mile radius (thus the name).

When you’re craving fish, head to the popular seafood restaurant Elliott’s Oyster House, and for dinner, The Pink Door has an Italian-inspired menu with a side of entertainment.

Seattle is also a great time to go over your road trip checklist for families to make sure you have everything you need, and if not, visit one of the many grocery stores here.

I’ve been using Roadtrippers for years to help me plan out my trips and find fun stops along the way. Use my code “BTR5QTP” for $5 off when you sign up!

Another fun trip is the drive from Seattle to Portland, where you’ll find plenty of stops.

2. Snoqualmie Pass

snoqualmie pass hike

No matter what time of year it is, I always love stopping at Snoqualmie Pass. During the winter, it’ll be covered in snow, and you can either watch or participate in skiing at the multiple hills in the area.

However, summer is the best time, in my opinion, as there are plenty of outdoor activities to do. You can participate in everything from hiking to biking trails to fishing and camping. Some of my favorite hikes in the area are Snow Lake, Rachel Lake, and Franklin Falls.

The nearby town of Snoqualmie is also an ideal place to eat lunch (try the Snoqualmie Ale House) and stock up on supplies, like road trip food for kids.

Need more ideas? You’ll love going on a road trip to Cannon Beach from Seattle.

3. Leavenworth

leavenworth

If you decide to take Highway 2 to get to Glacier, you’ll want to stop at the charming Bavarian town of Leavenworth. There are various shops in town to get specialty souvenirs from, as well as plenty of restaurants to choose from.

München Haus has classic Bavarian dishes like bratwurst and schnitzel, as well as a variety of beers from local breweries. I also love grabbing hot dogs at Leavenworth Sausage Garten for a quick meal when I’m on the go.

The nearby Icicle Gorge Nature Loop is one of my favorite places to go walking, as it’s an easy one-mile loop trail along the Icicle River. You can also ski at the nearby Leavenworth Ski Hill or Stevens Pass, which is much bigger.

Feel like heading north? Cross the border to go on a Banff road trip from Seattle.

4. Wenatchee

pybus public market

The next stop on your Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip is Wenatchee, which is a city that often gets overlooked. During the warmer months, it’s a place that I visit at least once a year due to how many hikes they have. If you do your Seattle to Glacier drive during spring, you’ll want to stop at Sage Hills for incredible wildflowers.

Two restaurants worth visiting are Pybus Public Market and The Wild Huckleberry. Pybus Public Market is a big indoor space that has plenty of different vendors to choose from, including seafood, pizza, and tacos.

The Wild Huckleberry is an upscale restaurant that uses locally sourced ingredients for its Pacific Northwest cuisine. The restaurant’s signature dish, the Huckleberry Elk Tenderloin, is a must-try if you’re feeling adventurous.

Want to head north? You’ll love the drive from Vancouver to Seattle.

5. Palouse Falls

palouse falls

Palouse Falls is a quick but beautiful stop you’ll want to put on your Seattle to Glacier road trip. This magnificent waterfall is over 200 feet tall, and I think it’s one of the most stunning waterfalls in the state.

You’ll love all the activities to do in the area, and it’ll provide a nice break to stretch your legs. I enjoy the hiking trails, such as the Palouse Falls Trail, which gives you different views of the waterfall.

If you like bird watching, you’ll be thrilled to learn you can spot many species of birds that call the area home. There are also several different viewpoints around the area to get a unique perspective of the waterfall.

When you’re hungry, stop at Rebecca’s Lodge, which is just a few miles from the falls and serves delicious breakfast and lunch options. On the way to your next stop, you can play road trip trivia to help pass the time.

Make sure to reserve your rental car ahead of time! I love using Discover Cars for my trips.

6. Spokane

spokane river

Spokane is a city that’s really been built up over the years, and it’s an ideal spot to stay for the night so you can stock up on your supplies for the trip. While you’re there, you can visit Spokane Falls, which is a stunning waterfall right in the city. After that, take a walk along Riverfront Park’s suspension bridge over the Spokane River.

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from when you’re hungry. Head over to the upscale Italian Kitchen & Bar for delicious Italian cuisine. You’ll love the fresh pasta made in-house, local wines, and handcrafted cocktails. Another great spot is Clinkerdagger, which has classic American food that you’ll love.

Since you’re midway through your trip, I recommend making sure you organize for a road trip by putting everything back where it belongs and restocking if needed.

Don’t have time for this whole drive? You can just do a Spokane to Glacier National Park road trip instead.

7. Coeur d’Alene

couer dalene

Coeur d’Alene is a city I’ve been coming to since I was little for vacations, and is a fun stop on your Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip when you’re looking for warmer weather.

If you get here at lunch, you can stop at one of the many restaurants along Sherman Avenue. Tito’s Italian Grill & Wine Shop serves traditional Italian fare, where you can choose from a variety of pasta, pizzas, and sandwiches.

If you want to take pictures of the lake, head to Tubbs Hill for some stunning views. You can also play a round of golf at the Coeur d’Alene Resort’s championship golf course if you have the time. For a short walk, stroll through McEuen Park, which has incredible views of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Other things to do in Coeur d’Alene include visiting the Museum of North Idaho, taking a scenic boat ride on the lake, and exploring Coeur d’Alene City Park.

8. Sandpoint

mickduff brewing company

Sandpoint is in the scenic panhandle region, where there are numerous activities and attractions to discover during the summer. While you can visit any time of the year, there’s no better way to experience Sandpoint than to spend time outside.

You can explore the Pend Oreille River Trail or go fishing in Sandpoint’s lakes, rivers, and streams. If you’re feeling daring, ride the zip lines at Tree To Tree Idaho Adventure Park for some high-flying fun. Bikers can also spend the day mountain biking at Schweitzer when it’s the summertime.

If you are here in the winter, you’ll want to stop at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. You can enjoy skiing and snowboarding or take a scenic chairlift ride for stunning views of Lake Pend Oreille.

When you’re ready for a pint, head to MickDuff’s Brewing Company. This beer hall impressed me with how many craft beers and ciders they had on tap. The menu also includes classic sandwiches, burgers, and salads.

9. Wallace

wallace idaho

Wallace has a very rich history to it, which I discovered the first time I visited here. Take the “Underground Mine Tour” at Sierra Silver Mine Tours, where you can explore over 500 feet of antique mine tunnels and learn about Wallace’s mining history.

You may also want to see the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum, which houses artifacts from the legendary railroad line. Other activities include visiting the Sixth Street Melodrama Theater and Museum for an evening full of comedy and music or taking a tour of the Oasis Bordello Museum.

Red Light Garage is the place to go for burgers, sandwiches, salads, and more.

Another great option is City Limits Pub & Grill, which serves classic pub fare alongside a large beer selection. I loved stopping here in the middle of my trip to relax and have a pint.

10. Missoula

missoula montana

Missoula is a great overnight stop that I’ve been to many times. Fact & Fiction is a fun bookstore with a large selection of books and gifts, so you’ll want to visit here. Try the Missoula Farmers’ Market if you want to stock up on fresh produce.

If you want to check out some of Missoula’s outdoor attractions while you’re there, you can visit Caras Park for a walk along the Clark Fork River. You can also take a scenic hike up Mount Sentinel for panoramic views of the city and surrounding area.

When you’re ready for a drink, stop at Iron Horse Brewery, which has a huge selection of local beer. Bernice’s Bakery is another favorite, serving breakfast and lunch items such as omelets, quiche, sandwiches, salads, and more.

11. Flathead Valley

flathead valley

You’ll love driving through Montana’s scenic Flathead Valley, which is full of beautiful lakes and mountains. Before continuing on to Glacier National Park, stop at Yellow Bay State Park for a good place to take pictures of Flathead Lake.

Flathead Lake State Park is another fun place to go for an outdoor adventure. This park has countless activities to do, such as hiking, biking, fishing, boating, sailing, and more.

When you’re hungry, head to Harbor Grille for a view of the lake while you eat delicious salad or burgers.

Check out the Bigfork Center For Performing Arts if you’re looking for some entertainment. Throughout the year, this center hosts a variety of concerts, theater performances, and other events.

12. Whitefish

whitefish montana

There are a number of parks and trails in the area that are perfect for biking, hiking, and fishing. Visit Whitefish Lake State Park for a scenic lakefront stroll, or you can go hike up Whitefish Mountain Resort in the summer months.

If you want to explore downtown Whitefish, go to one of its many shops and restaurants. Montana Tap House serves delicious craft beer, appetizers, and pizzas.

Alternatively, Pin & Cue is a fun place to stop for the night, as you can go bowling, eat dinner, and even do your laundry while on the road!

13. Glacier National Park

glacier mountains

There are so many places to visit in Glacier that it’s impossible for me to list them all. However, Logan Pass is a must-see area, as it has beautiful alpine meadows and wildlife. You can also take a boat ride on Swiftcurrent Lake to see the park from a different angle.

If you’re a hiker, you won’t want to miss out on the Grinnell Glacier Trail. This trail has dazzling views of Glacier’s peaks and glaciers. If you’re lucky, you might even see grizzly bears, moose, and mountain goats (but always keep your distance!) before heading back from Glacier to Seattle.

Make sure to have your camera ready, as there will be tons of road trip captions you’ll want to post from this trip with your photos.

Another stunning national park drive is the Seattle to Yellowstone road trip.

Seattle to Glacier National Park Itinerary: 5 Days

seattle to glacier itinerary

You can spend as little or as much time on this Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip as you want, but I’ve found that 5 days is ideal to drive to the park. This doesn’t include how many days you might spend at the park or how long you take to come back. I usually like to take my time on the way somewhere and then come back much quicker on the return trip.

Day 1: Seattle to Wenatchee

You’ll begin your journey from Seattle by taking I-90 east, which will take you through the Cascade Mountains. I highly recommend stopping at Snoqualmie Pass for a short hike before continuing on your way to Wenatchee.

Once you reach Wenatchee, I recommend visiting some of the shops downtown and getting dinner before resting up for the night. Wenatchee Valley Brewing Company is always my go-to when I stop here for a night.

Where to Stay in Wenatchee

The Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel is where I stay each time I visit because it’s right on the river and central to all the shops and restaurants downtown.

Day 2: Wenatchee to Spokane

You’ll start your day by grabbing coffee at Mela Coffee Roasting Co. and taking a walk on the trail by the Columbia River, which goes along the town. Visit Wenatchee Confluence State Park to explore the trails and take some great photos before continuing your road trip from Seattle to Glacier National Park.

If you feel like taking a short detour, stop at the Grand Coulee Dam for one of the best landmarks in Washington. This impressive structure is 550 feet high and is the largest concrete dam in North America.

Once you reach Spokane, you can take some time to explore downtown by the river or visit Manito Park for a stroll through its beautiful gardens.

Where to Stay in Spokane

The Davenport Tower, Autograph Collection is a luxurious place to stay for the night. It was built in 1914 but has been updated to have modern amenities, so it’s a hotel to remember.

Day 3: Spokane to Couer d’Alene

Begin your morning in Spokane by visiting the Cat Tales Wildlife Center to learn about different animals that have been rescued and rehabbed. You’ll then north towards Coeur d’Alene, stopping at Riverside State Park just before you get to Idaho. This park has over 10,000 acres of land and plenty of trails for everyone in the car to get their energy out.

When you arrive in Coeur d’Alene, you might want to spend some time exploring downtown if it’s later in the day. If you get here early, any kids with you (or even adults) will love visiting Silverwood Theme Park. This park has over 70 rides and attractions, making it ideal for a thrilling day of fun!

Where to Stay in Couer d’Alene

The Roosevelt Inn is conveniently located in downtown Couer d’Alene and is a charming and historic hotel. President Theodore Roosevelt built the inn in 1917, so you’ll enjoy the classic Victorian-style setting.

Day 4: Couer d’Alene to Flathead Valley

Begin your day with a trip to Tubbs Hill for panoramic views of Lake Coeur d’Alene. It’s a nice way to slowly begin the start to your fourth day on the road before heading to Flathead Valley.

When you arrive in the valley, you’ll probably want to head out on a few hikes and appreciate the beauty of the area. There are plenty of places to eat when you’re ready for dinner, like Jersey Boys Pizzeria.

Where to Stay in Flathead Valley

TownePlace Suites by Marriott Whitefish is right by numerous restaurants and has many modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and kitchenettes.

Day 5: Flathead Valley to Glacier National Park

On the final day of your road trip to Glacier, to the main attraction – Glacier National Park. As you enter the park, make a stop at the Logan Pass Visitor Center for an overview of the park. This is also an ideal time to talk to the rangers about any trail closures you need to know about.

After that, head to the Going-to-the-Sun Road, where you can explore some of Glacier’s most breathtaking scenery. I recommend going early, as this can get pretty crowded during the summer.

When you’ve had your fill of Glacier National Park’s beauty, head down to Lake McDonald’s shore. I love packing a picnic and staying in this area for the sunset for a fun experience.

While this is the end of the 5 day Seattle to Glacier itinerary, feel free to stay in the park as long as you want! After that, you can add any stops you missed to your Glacier National Park to Seattle road trip on the way back.

Where to Stay in Glacier National Park

Grouse Mountain Lodge is right in Glacier National Park and has on-site restaurants, spa services, and outdoor activities.

That concludes your Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip! I hope you enjoy this beautiful drive.

2 thoughts on “13 Epic Stops on a Seattle to Glacier National Park Road Trip

  1. Colin Thompson says:

    Hi,just read your itinerary for seattle to glacier national Park, really enjoyed it 😀, im from the UK and hopefully doing this in September, then onto yellowstone and tetons, back to seattle, do you think its doable in 2 weeks??,thanks for your stories, colin.

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