Imagine embarking on a new adventure every weekend, the thrill of discovery, the excitement of exploring new places – that’s the magic of road trips! Among the many journeys you could undertake, one in particular stands out: a scenic Spokane to Glacier National Park road trip. Now, this isn’t just any road trip – it’s a journey that will immerse you in nature, leaving you in awe at every turn.
Road trips have this irresistible charm, and I’m practically an expert in this field, making it my mission to embark on as many as possible. There’s just something incredibly rewarding about a few hours of driving, culminating in the breathtaking vistas of Glacier National Park. Believe me when I say you’d be hard-pressed to find a better destination for your road-side breaks!
You may have seen stunning images of the dramatic mountains and pristine lakes that adorn Instagram feeds, all captured in Glacier National Park, and wondered about the journey there. This is precisely why I’m here – to lay it all out and share insider information on this paramount road trip. There’s an undeniable thrill to hitting the open road, and I’m always eager to motivate others to start their engines and experience this awe-inspiring expedition for themselves.
My comprehensive guide on going from Spokane to Glacier National Park will give you the full run-down on all the essential stops and a few hidden gems that you’ll love. If you’re up for an adventure and want to explore even further, I’ve got some suggestions for intriguing detours along the way. You’ll definitely want to tick this journey off your bucket list!
Tips for a Spokane to Glacier National Park Drive
Before you set out on this journey, I have some tips for a smooth and enjoyable drive from Spokane to Glacier National Park. Check them out below.
How Long Does it Take to Drive from Spokane to Glacier National Park?
A non-stop road trip from Spokane to Glacier National Park takes about five hours and 30 minutes. While this is a manageable 300-mile drive when you zoom straight through, you want to take in the stunning scenery.
There are majestic mountains, lakes, and forests to behold. So I suggest taking your time and breaking the trip up. Allow yourself the chance to experience charming cities, fantastic landmarks, and fun activities along the way.
Can the Road Trip Be Done in One Day?
A Spokane to Glacier National Park road trip can definitely be completed in one day. This is very little fun, though. Make the most of the tremendous towns, attractions, and sights you’ll find between the two locations by splitting the journey over three days.
I have a 3-day itinerary in this article to help make all your planning easier. Together with my family road trip checklist (which can be adapted for solo travelers, couples, and friends, really), you’ll be all set.
When Is the Best Time For a Road Trip From Spokane to Glacier National Park?
The peachiest time to go on a road trip from Spokane to Glacier National Park is during summer (May – September). The days are warm, bright, and sunny, particularly in July and August. This means you can enjoy endless fun during all sorts of outdoor activities. However, remember that summer is peak season — the busiest of them all.
If you’d rather avoid the crowds and road traffic, opt for fall (September – October) or spring (March – April) when it’s quieter. These seasons exhibit cool, mild temperatures and are as picturesque as summer. You’ll love wildlife watching and the vibrant colors of nature’s foliage and flora.
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.
Where to Fly Into and Out of for Your Trip
When kicking off this awesome Spokane to Glacier road trip, it’s best to fly to Spokane International Airport (GEG) — the closest major airport to Spokane. It is only seven miles from the city center.
Alternatively, if your travels take you from Glacier National Park to Spokane, you’ll have to fly to Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Montana. The airport is 30 miles from Glacier National Park’s popular West Entrance and 12 miles from the quaint ski town of Whitefish.
Pro Tip: When booking flights and rental cars, do so well in advance to get great prices (preferably off-peak). Make sure to check the rental car pick-up and drop-off options. You’ll want all arrangements for driving the car from the starter location and leaving it at your final destination to be seamless.
You’ll also love going on a road trip from Seattle to Banff!
Spokane to Glacier National Park Road Trip Map
Here’s your visual snapshot of what the Spokane to Glacier National Park road trip looks like on a map.
10 Stops on a Spokane to Glacier National Park Road Trip
Much like a Los Angeles to Yosemite road trip, a relatively short car journey, there’s too much splendor between Spokane and Glacier. Don’t speed ahead one way without stopping. I advocate adding as much fun and flavor to your road trip as possible and making it truly memorable.
This trip adds a little extra time and a few more miles to the total journey, but I promise you, you won’t regret it. Here are the ten best stops to make on your epic road excursion — whether traveling from Spokane to Glacier National Park or the other way around.
Pro Tip: Nothing beats an organized car for your road trip. Ensure everything is in its place and maximize all the available storage space. You’ll be stress-free as you ride from one destination to the next.
1. Spokane, Washington
Now it’s time to hit the road. Get the ball rolling from Spokane, a lively city with a buzzing social scene and an eclectic cultural vibe. There are outstanding eateries downtown (Luna and Wiley’s Downtown Bistro are my faves) where you can sample delectable cuisine and check out some famous attractions.
It would only be an authentic Spokane experience with a visit to the 99-acre (40-hectare) Riverfront Park. Take a scenic 15-minute SkyRide over the magnificent Spokane Falls before continuing on your Spokane to Glacier National Park drive.
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!
2. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
After a 33-mile drive from Spokane, you’ll enter the Rocky Mountain state of Idaho, where historic Coeur d’Alene (meaning “Heart of the Awl”) awaits. Besides the glistening Lake Coeur d’Alene, where many watersports take place, the city also offers unique boutique shops where you can buy special souvenirs.
Forget potatoes being Idaho’s claim to fame (even though they are undeniably delicious). The state boasts another accolade: Coeur d’Alene is home to the world’s longest floating boardwalk (within Coeur d’Alene Resort). It’s 0.63 miles long (3,300 feet), is open to the public, and is free to use.
So go ahead and stop by for superb snaps. I’ve even got the perfect road trip captions for Instagram, so you’ll have catchy phrases ready to add to your social media pictures.
To learn about Idaho’s rich history, visit the Museum of North Idaho. If the relentless nature baby in you prefers the outdoors, you’ll love exploring Coeur d’Alene National Forest. Together with Kaniksu and St. Joe National Forests, it forms the lush Idaho Panhandle National Forests.
3. Wallace, Idaho
Your next fascinating stop is Wallace, a small mining town 48 miles from Coeur d’Alene. Don’t let its size fool you; this is the world’s largest producer of silver. The entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making every location you visit significant in its own way.
Wallace is delightful, with outstanding little shops and restaurants to try. The 1313 Club Historic Saloon & Grill has the best burgers in town. Some other highlights include a tour of Sierra Silver Mine, which charts the story and the long history of hard rock mining.
Pop into the EurekaSally Gallery of Art & Chocolate. Here, you get to appreciate the stellar works of local artists while indulging in all things artisanal chocolate — how fabulous (and yummy), right?
Whether Wallace truly is the “center of the universe,” as declared by its 2004 mayor, is a story for a different day, but you’ll want to stop here when going from Spokane to Glacier regardless.
Make sure to reserve your rental car ahead of time! I love using Discover Cars for my trips.
4. Lolo National Forest, Montana
Now it’s time to cross states, from Idaho into western Montana, which could take up to 48 miles, depending on your preferred route. Lolo National Forest makes for a lovely stop. The forest’s rich natural landscape is absolutely gorgeous.
This is an abundant area where you can go hiking, fishing, canoeing, or swimming if you make the time for a little outdoor exploration. If you’re with your better half, explore a few road trip ideas for couples. Take advantage of every chance to engage in unique activities while admiring Lolo’s pristine beauty.
5. Missoula, Montana
A 123-mile stretch from Lolo ends in Missoula, this trip’s halfway point and a great place for an overnight stay (Best Western Plus Grant Creek Inn is a frontrunner). There’s always something happening in Missoula, from the arts and culture scene to the wilderness.
The Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula is where culture lovers want to be. This historic venue is a premium entertainment space for film festivals, theater plays, and musical concerts.
Nature lovers can stroll along the Clark Fork River and visit Toole Park. Adventure seekers who want to take it a step further can try conquering the 1.75-mile Mount Sentinel hike with its sweeping views.
Are you mad for museums? Admire exceptional contemporary artworks at the Missoula Art Museum.
Pro Tip: Any journey’s halfway mark is ideal for restocking food and other supplies. Traveling with little ones? Top up with these road trip snacks for kids. Missoula Farmers’ Market has got you covered for fresh fruit.
6. Flathead Valley, Montana
Just like you’d be doing during a Seattle to Glacier National Park road trip, a stop in Flathead Valley — 103 miles from Missoula — is a must. The valley is home to Flathead National Forest and Flathead Lake State Park.
Flathead River is best for water activities, and one of the best places to go watersports crazy is Flathead Lake. It’s the largest natural freshwater lake in Western America and is great for boating, swimming, and fishing. For supreme lake views while enjoying a delicious meal, I recommend lunch at Harbor Grille. They serve the American classics done just right.
Flathead National Forest is all about camping, hiking, and picnics set against picture-perfect backdrops. Flathead Lake State Park offers sublime views and loads of fun-filled adventures in the natural open space. These include biking, hiking, and sailing.
7. Kalispell, Montana
After a short 21-mile drive from Flathead County, you’ll finally reach Glacier National Park’s gateway, Kalispell. This large northwestern Montana city has wonderful museums and some of the best restaurants in the Flathead region. This is where you’ll also find Glacier Park International Airport.
Three city attractions should be on your radar in Kalispell. First is the 1895 Conrad Mansion, where the city’s founder Charles Conrad once lived. Next, the Hockaday Museum of Art’s creative space showcases masterpieces from seasoned and up-and-coming artists. Lastly, at the Northwest Montana History Museum, you’ll see exhibits honoring Native American history.
8. Whitefish, Montana
Onwards 16 miles from Kalispell is Whitefish, a ski resort town. It may seem like an area that receives a great deal of snowfall each year is best enjoyed in winter. However, places like Whitefish City Beach make this part of Montana an excellent summer pit stop too.
Whitefish Lake State Park offers hiking, biking trails, and fishing like all other state parks featured in this article. There are multiple spots along the lakefront where you can get exquisite photos. Seize every moment to capture the different travel milestones of your Spokane to Glacier National Park road trip.
The heart and soul of most small cities are their restaurants and bars. Whitefish is no different. The best establishments include Montana Tap House, specializing in pizzas. While you’ll get good old American comfort cuisine at the Bulldog Saloon.
9. Columbia Falls, Montana
An easy 10-mile journey from Whitefish to Columbia Falls — another park gateway — brings you closer to Glacier. From here, it’s pretty much a hop, skip, and jump to your final destination. Among visitors’ favorites in Columbia Falls are the local brewery and the farmers’ market, which booms in the summer.
With Columbia Falls just 20 minutes from Glacier National Park, some travelers make this their base for exploring the park and surrounding areas. It’s a city under impressive development with some brilliant accommodation options.
Top attractions include Big Sky Waterpark (ideal for families) and Backslope Brewing (grab a pint or two — you deserve it for championing your trip so far).
10. Glacier National Park, Montana
Can you feel the excitement? At this point, just 17 miles stood between you and Glacier National Park after you departed from Columbia Falls. You’ve finally arrived! You’ll make your way into the park using the most popular and convenient entrance, the Western Entrance.
The glory of Glacier is its serene peaks and valleys, mesmerizing mountain views, and 700 miles of expansive land. There’s so much to do, from hiking to cycling to wildlife watching. Similar to a Crater Lake road trip, you’ll also love all the stunning lakes here.
It would be best to stop at Logan Pass, the highest elevation point (6646 feet or 2026 meters) on the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. It affords breathtaking alpine views.
What says you’ve arrived in Glacier in true adrenalin-filled fashion? A white-water rafting excursion, of course. Explore eight miles (13 kilometers) of Flathead River’s Middle Fork during an action-packed water rafting experience.
Want to extend your trip? Head north for a stunning Banff road trip!
3-Day Itinerary for a Spokane to Glacier National Park Drive
Your goal should be traveling at a comfortable pace. Give yourself enough time to see wonderful places while trying spectacular activities en route.
I recommend three days as the ideal amount of time to get from Spokane to Glacier National Park. With these road trip trivia questions to keep you and your travel buddies entertained and a simple 3-day itinerary in tow, it’ll be a travel adventure for the books.
Day 1: Spokane to Wallace
Travel Distance: 1 hour 18 minutes (80,8 miles)
The trip kicks off in Spokane, Washington, your road trip’s launching pad for a feast of remarkable stops and city activities in the different places you’ll encounter along the way.
Attractions like Riverfront Park and Spokane Falls are close to the Lake and the National Forest in Coeur d’Alene. From there, travel 48 miles and enter Wallace, where you can grab some mouth-watering grub at the one-of-a-kind 1313 Club Historic Saloon & Grill.
Savor something sweet at the unique EurekaSally Gallery of Art & Chocolate in town before retiring for the day in Wallace — the first overnight stop.
Where to Stay: Above and beyond the comfortable rooms, Wallace Inn offers convenience and style. Enjoy access to the on-site restaurant, indoor swimming pool, sauna, and fitness center (rates start at $221 per night).
Day 2: Wallace to Missoula
Travel Distance: 1 hour 55 minutes (118 miles)
I recommend waking up early on day 2 so that you can pace yourself and explore this stretch from Wallace through Lolo into Missoula at your leisure. There’s quite a bit to see and do. Activities vary so that you get a taste of different memorable experiences all-in-one.
From Wallace, you can travel 48 miles to Lolo National Forest, the perfect place for peace and reflection as you wander around nature. When you’re ready to make your way to Missoula, just over 120 miles further, the vast landscapes of Clark Fork River, Toole Park, and Mount Sentinel will be waiting.
Where to Stay: La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Missoula features modern accommodations and on-site amenities such as a hot tub and indoor swimming pool. Daily breakfast is included (rates start at $252 per night).
Day 3: Missoula to Glacier National Park
Travel Distance: 2 hours 30 minutes (140 miles)
The home stretch is a bit longer, and you will be driving through four different cities on your way to Glacier National Park from Missoula.
You’ll be tempted to do it all because the sights and recreational activities are that good. In case you get delayed at one stop or another, or can’t make it to all the popular attractions in time, squeeze in these sure winners:
- Eat a hearty American lunch overlooking the Valley’s Flathead Lake at Harbor Grille.
- Take a tour of Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.
- Go on a hiking or biking trail at Whitefish Lake State Park.
- Grab a refreshing pint at Backslope Brewing in Columbia Falls.
Once you’ve gotten the full Montana and greater Flathead tourist experience, it’s time to head straight to the marvelous Glacier National Park. At the park, there is no shortage of thrill and adventure.
Where to Stay: North Forty Resort is only 20 minutes from Glacier and offers fully-equipped cabins (including glamping tents). The resort also has a sauna and hot tub for guests’ ultimate relaxation (rates start at $353 per night).
No matter which stops you make, you’ll love going on this Spokane to Glacier National Park road trip.