Fall Trip Ideas for Montana’s National Parks

By: NorbertThompson

Fall is a great time to visit one of Montana’s national park. Montana offers a variety of outdoor adventures and landscapes. From Montana’s snowy peaks to the glistening lakes in Glacier National Park, Montana’s northernmost, to Yellowstone National Park’s hot springs, geysers and canyons in the south, you can experience a wide range of landscapes.

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  • Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, which was established in 1872, covers nearly 3500 acres of land. This vast park contains hot springs and geysers as well as canyons, rivers, forests, and many other attractions.

Stay in Big Sky, Gardiner, or West Yellowstone for great accommodation and dining options within Yellowstone National Park.

Fall Trip Ideas for Yellowstone National Park

  • Camping

You can camp in any type of vehicle, whether you are a campervan or a tent. This is the best way to really experience Yellowstone National Park.

If you want to be near Yellowstone’s geysers, Norris Campground will work well. Slough Creek Campground, which is far from the crowds, is quieter and more peaceful. Canyon Campground can be used for exploring Canyon Village.

You will need a permit if you intend to stay at a Yellowstone backcountry campsite. You can apply online for a permit or at any backcountry office up to two days prior to your stay.

  • Hiking

Go hiking in Yellowstone to get up close and personal experience with the stunning fall foliage. There are many amazing day hikes in the park, including Mystic Falls Trail (2.4 mi), Mystic Falls Trail (3.25 mi), Elephant Back Mountain Trail (3.35 miles), Bunsen Peak Trail (4.6 miles), and Observation Point Trail (1.26 miles).

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Keep in mind that Yellowstone National Park is home many species of wildlife including grizzly bears. Take safety precautions while hiking. Bear spray is a must for hiking. Keep a safe distance from wildlife.

  • Kayaking and canoeing

You can’t beat the view of Yellowstone from the water, whether you are on a self-guided or group tour. Yellowstone permits paddling on many of its larger lakes like Yellowstone Lake. You can paddle Yellowstone Lake to see West Thumb Geyser (one of Yellowstone’s most renowned hydrothermal basins).

  • Guided Wildlife Tour

The best time to see Montana wildlife is in fall. A guided wildlife tour is the best way to see them up close and safely. Local tour operators offer professional biologists who will guide you and teach you about regional wildlife, cultural history, and natural history in an environmentally-friendly manner.

  • Biking

It’s a great season to ride some Yellowstone National Park roads during the autumn. This season is less crowded and you can take in the scenery and spot wildlife. Follow scenic routes that take you to places like Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful. These roads, along with others, are only accessible by foot and bicycle. Yellowstone National Park Lodges offers bikes for rent at Old Faithful if you aren’t traveling with them.

  • Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, located in northern Montana, covers just over 1 million acres. It is home to Rocky Mountain peaks and lush valleys. There are also more than 700 miles worth of trails, as well as a wide variety of wildlife.

Stay in Whitefish or Kalispell to enjoy the best accommodation and dining options around Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park: Fall Trip Ideas

  • Horseback riding

Glacier National Park’s fall season offers horseback riding that is unrivaled. This region offers stunning views of the alpine, turquoise glacial lakes and snow-capped mountains. This area offers many horseback riding options, some customizable, and is suitable for both solo and group travelers.

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  • Llama Trekking

Llama trekking offers a variety of options for Glacier National Park, including overnight, single-day and multi-day options. These treks not only allow you to see the beautiful fall landscapes, and spend time with llamas; they also teach you about the local ecosystems.

  • Camping

Glacier National Park has 13 campgrounds. These include Apgar Campground (Bowman Lake Campground), Kintla Lake Campground, and Many Glacier Campground.

Although most campgrounds are open to all, reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance. You should bring your own water, if you are not staying in the summer season, depending on when your visit falls within the primitive season.

  • Wildlife viewing

Glacier National Park is home to many wildlife species including mountain goats and grizzly bears as well as moose, black bears and bighorn sheep. Take the same precautions as Yellowstone and bring bear spray along with you when you go on the trails.

Glacier is a great place to be alert for wildlife and bring a camera or phone to capture it. Bring a pair binoculars with you on your wildlife adventures to increase your chances of seeing it.

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  • Kayaking & Canoeing

Two Medicine Lake and Lake McDonald are the most popular spots for paddling expeditions in Glacier National Park. Both of these options offer stunning views of the mountains. However, Lake McDonald’s is the more popular option if you want to paddle longer distances.