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10 GORGEOUS Lakes at Glacier National Park You Gotta See to Believe

Glacier National Park is one of the most spectacular displays by Mother Nature! With majestic mountains, lush waterfalls and stunning lakes that create truly breathtaking landscapes. These are the best lakes at Glacier National Park you’ll want to include on your next visit!

best lakes at glacier national park to visit view of teal colored lake with mountain peaks in background with trees surrounding
Grinnell Lake, one of the most stunning Lakes at Glacier National Park😍

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It’s one of the most beautiful places in the USA, I’m sure of it! If you’ve never been to Glacier National Park in Montana – you’re in for a real treat!

With amazing adventures, an epic scenic drive and some of the most stunning mountain landscapes you’ll ever see, the lakes in the park add so much allure and beauty to each visit.

There’s so many things to do in Glacier National Park, and visiting the many lakes is one of the top activities, without a doubt. This park has captivated my heart trip after trip with its raw, untouched wilderness.

And I think it will equally impress you, too.🙂

👉IMPORTANT: you’ll need a timed entry reservation from late May through early September for most areas of the park to enter between 6:00am and 3:00pm. Plan early and get your vehicle entry passes here.

Lakes at Glacier National Park

tiny island in the middle of lake surrounded by oversized mountains
Wild Goose Island at Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park

Real quick – here’s the list of the lakes in Glacier National Park you should definitely visit during your trip! (Let’s dive into details about these lakes in a bit.)

  1. Lake McDonald
  2. Grinnell Glacier
  3. Avalanche Lake
  4. St. Mary Lake
  5. Swiftcurrent Lake
  6. Two Medicine Lake
  7. Hidden Lake
  8. Lake Josephine
  9. Iceberg Lake
  10. Bowman Lake

Map of Glacier National Park lakes

Use this map to start planning your time in the park! 

The Glacier National Park lakes on this list are cover many regions of the park, including the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor, Many Glacier, Two Medicine and North Fork areas of the park.

Spectacular lakes in Glacier National Park you’ll want to see

From kayaking in the tranquil waters of St. Mary Lake, witnessing floating icebergs during a summer hike to Iceberg Lake, to the scenic trails leading to Hidden Lake that often include encounters with wildlife, Glacier National Park offers an outdoor adventure unlike any other.

Let’s dive in!

1. Lake McDonald

reflective lake McDonald glacier national park Montana with trees and mountains in distance
Beautiful Lake McDonald in the summertime😍

I’ve spent many hours along the shore of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. And let me tell ya – it’s surely a stunning one!

It’s largest lake in Glacier National Park at over 10 miles long, and deserving at the top spot on this list. If you’re visiting the west side of the park and the Going-to-the-Sun Road (which I highly recommend), then you can’t miss this lake.

With Apgar Village located on the end of the lake, it’s a great spot to launch a paddle board or get some great photos of the pier. Further along the lake, the shoreline is accessible through many parking areas just off the road.

glacier national park lakes view of hands holding colorful rocks
Finding fun rocks at Lake McDonald

You can explore the shoreline at Lake McDonald, known for the multi-colored pebbles. It’s often referred to as nature’s skittles – the Glacier National Park lake with colored rocks. And while the lake’s rocks are infinitely impressive, many of the super saturated rock colors have been photoshopped to look extra impressive.

Lake McDonald is a special lake on this list not only for its massive size and scenic views, but it’s also one of the few lakes you can visit without having to hike to see it.

2. Grinnell Glacier Lakes (my favorites on this list of Glacier National Park lakes)

grinnell glacier lake with view of teal water glacier of ice and white clouds in sky
Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake

The breathtaking views at Grinnell Glacier Lake are so stunning, they seem almost too good to be true. 

But, it’s no easy feat to see them.

To reach the lake nestled at the base of Grinnell Glacier, also known as Upper Grinnell Lake, I hiked up a trail that is as rewarding as it is challenging. Coming in at about 9.5 miles round trip, it’s worth every step!

The path winds through some of the park’s most stunning landscapes, with an array of wildflowers, wildlife sightings and panoramic vistas that are truly untouched and spectacular.

This hike actually takes you past Lake Josephine, Grinnell Lake (the viewpoint) then finally Upper Grinnell Glacier Lake.

best lakes at glacier national park to visit view of teal colored lake with mountain peaks in background with trees surrounding
Grinnell Lake view point along the trail to get to Grinnell Glacier

The moment you see Grinnell Glacier up close, it’s hard not to feel so small in such a majestic place. The glacier’s imposing presence, coupled with the serene beauty of the lake below, creates a scene so picturesque it seems plucked from a storybook.

Whether you’re an avid hiker or someone who appreciates the sheer beauty of nature, this hike offers an unforgettable experience. The views of the surrounding peaks, mirrored in the glacier-fed waters, are a photographer’s dream.

It’s truly jaw-dropping.

My kids, husband and I also saw a variety of wildlife on this trail to the lake. Bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goats and even a marmot. A few other hikers saw a grizzly bear on the trail, so make sure to carry bear spray (here, and anywhere else in the park).

3. Avalanche Lake

view at Avalanche Lake with brown shore green water trees and mountains in distance
The stunning Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park

Avalanche Lake is a serene escape, where the peaceful sound of cascading water complements the lush green surrounds, making for an idyllic hike and certainly one of the best lakes at Glacier National Park. 

The Avalanche Lake Trail is 5.9 miles round trip, but it’s not too challenging (my kids even hiked it at a young age). You’ll walk through a dense forest, alongside a gorgeous stream, all leading to the most beautiful setting.

Once you get to the lake, the towering cliffs stand guard around the lake, with waterfalls in the distance cascading down the cliffside. Make sure to grab a seat on a nearby log, have a snack and enjoy the view!

4. St. Mary Lake

Glacier National Park with rocky beach with tree and mountains in distance
Shore of St. Mary Lake, on the east side of the park

St. Mary Lake, with its expansive waters, provides the perfect setting for boating or scenic overlooks, leaving you in awe of its vast beauty. 

There’s something utterly magical about St. Mary Lake, and I just have to share it with you. It’s not just its expanse, being the second largest lake in Glacier National Park, but the sheer diversity of experiences it offers that makes it a must-visit.

Along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, you can see the iconic Wild Goose Island perfectly framed by towering mountains and the crystal-clear waters of the lake. Trust me, it’s a scene straight out of a postcard and a moment you’ll want to savor. 

But St. Mary Lake isn’t just for gazing at from a distance. You can take a boat tour of the lake, which offers a unique perspective that not every visitor gets. A trained tour guide provides context and history of the lake while witnessing amazing views.

Pro tip: be sure to book your boat tour early as they sell out months in advance!

You can also see St. Mary Lake from Sun Point, a quick, 0.4 round trip hike from the parking lot. Alternatively, you’ll get spectacular views from various points of the Baring Falls Trail.

5. Swiftcurrent Lake

view of kayak on lake with large mountain peaks lakes at glacier national park
Swiftcurrent Lake – view from Many Glacier Hotel

Nestled within the breathtaking expanse of Glacier National Park’s Many Glacier region, Swiftcurrent Lake is surrounded by towering peaks and verdant forests

This picturesque setting is perfectly beautiful and provides visitors to the park a variety of ways to enjoy the water. From leisurely strolls along the shoreline to canoeing or taking a boat tour, there’s so much to see and do at Swiftcurrent Lake.

One of the best Glacier National Park lakes, Swiftcurrent Lake serves as a gateway to one of the park’s most iconic attractions, the Many Glacier Hotel. This historic landmark is perched on the shores of the lake.

canoes on dock with hotel in distance with lake
Canoes ready for rent at Many Glacier Hotel on Swiftcurrent Lake

You can visit the hotel or, if you’re lucky, get a hotel reservation, to experience the rich history and rustic charm of this grand lodge while savoring breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

There’s also plenty of food options at the hotel, which is a nice change of pace versus other regions of the park which have limited services.

6. Two Medicine Lake (an underrated gem and one of the best lakes in Glacier National Park)

lakes in glacier national park view of lake with rocks and mountains in distance
Two Medicine Lake on a hazy summer day

My family enjoys Two Medicine Lake for its slower pace. This region of the park sees less visitors, yet is so beautiful and peaceful.

You can visit the lake after the short 0.7 mile walk to Running Eagle Falls. This is a fun one on the list of the easy hikes in Glacier National Park, as it’s really flat and fun for all ages. Just a short drive away is Two Medicine Lake.

The historic Two Medicine Chalet, nestled on the lake’s southern shore, serves as a testament to the area’s past. Today, the building is a gift shop and a spot to grab a light bite to eat.

My advice is to grab some chairs and a snack and perhaps a beverage or two, then sit along this amazing lake in Glacier National Park to soak up the peace and beauty of your surroundings.

7. Hidden Lake

glacier national park lakes large mountain peak and lake with some snow green forest white puffy clouds on road trip out west
View of the Lake from Hidden Lake Overlook

The hike to Hidden Lake Overlook is one of my favorite spots in the park. My family has hiked this trail every visit to Glacier National Park.

Easily deserving of a spot on this list of lakes at Glacier National Park, the lake itself is often closed due to high bear activity. During spawning season, the trail past the overlook is closed. However, the experience and views to the overlook are nothing short of spectacular.

One of the most popular hikes in Glacier National Park, Hidden Lake is located at the Logan Pass Visitor Center, and the parking lot fills up early. Even when you get a timed entry reservation, you’re not guaranteed a parking spot.

Pro tip: Go super early in the morning and make this your first stop of the day on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Alternatively, we’ve had luck going mid-morning and waiting for a space to open up after someone is finished with their hike.

But basically, you’ll need to bring your patience to get a parking spot at Logan Pass to do this hike.

The hike to Hidden Lake Overlook is 2.7 miles round trip, with 551 feet of elevation gain. If you’re going early in the season after the Going-to-the-Sun Road opens, you’ll want to wear grippy hiking shoes and trekking poles, as the snow on this trail is super slippery!

Visitors can often witness the park’s vibrant wildlife, along the trail, too. I’ve seen bighorn sheep and mountain goats each time I’ve hiked to the lake. 

8. Lake Josephine Glacier National Park

Lake Josephine in Glacier National Park on sunny day with mountains and tree shoreline
The gorgeous Lake Josephine in Many Glacier

A bit more off the beaten path, this is one of the top lakes in Glacier National Park for its serene beauty.

Ways to reach Lake Josephine:

  • From Many Glacier Hotel, take the shoreline path past Swiftcurrent Lake, over the small ridge and land at Lake Josephine. You can hike the path round Lake Josephine if desired, which is up to 4.8 miles for its entirety.
  • Take a boat tour. Make a reservation to tour Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. Be sure to do this well in advance as it sells out quickly.
  • Hike to Grinnell Glacier and you’ll go on the trail past Lake Josephine. This stunning lake is one of many on the trail to the glacier.

My family enjoyed seeing the lake up close and from afar while hiking to Grinnell Glacier. We also experienced the boat ride which was fun, too.

9. Iceberg Lake

Iceberg Lake with mountain backdrop and snow and trees in the foreground
Another spectacular scene in the park: Iceberg Lake

Iceberg Lake, in the heart of Glacier National Park, offers the unique spectacle of icebergs floating in its waters during the summer.

It’s a landscape so surreal, it’s like something from a fantasy world. However, it’s not an easy path to get to the lake. Coming in at 10 miles and 1400+ feet in elevation gain, you’ll want to prepare adequately for getting to this stunning lake.

The trail is challenging, winding through breathtaking scenery, but the effort is more than worth it. As you trek, you’ll get even more convinced that Glacier National Park is one of the most stunning places in the USA.

For this hike, bring your bear spray, trekking poles, hiking shoes and socks, 10 essentials and hiking backpack to carry your items.

Prepare to see some wildlife too as this hike cover so much area. Bighorn sheep, moose and bears are all common on this trail to the lake.

Iceberg Lake is truly spectacular and worthy of a spot on the best lakes at Glacier National Park!

10. Bowman Lake

view of multicolored rocks at lake in Montana with mountains in distance and tree log in foreground
Another gorgeous scene – Bowman Lake

One of the most underrated spots on this list of lakes in Glacier National Park, Bowman Lake is surely impressive!

With crystal clear water and colorful rocks, this is another pebble shore lake in Glacier National Park you can’t miss.

It’s an adventure to get there, but once you’re there you’ll get to immerse yourself in the peaceful setting amongst one of the most beautiful backdrops in the park.

Pro tip: when using GPS, navigate to Bowman Lake Campground so it takes you to the right spot. As with any other spot in the park, get there early or bring your patience as you wait for a parking spot to open up.

You’ll drive past Polebridge Mercantile, which is a great spot to grab a bite to eat. The road to the lake is rough but doable, especially if you take it slow.

Bowman Lake is the perfect spot for a dip in the lake. Bring your swimwear or at the very least water shoes so you can comfortably put your feet in or walk around the lake.

Tips for visiting Glacier National Park lakes

two kids standing along shoreline with lake and mountains in distance
Kids along hiking trail on the Swiftcurrent Lake

As you plan your adventures within the park, keep these helpful tips in mind!

  • Mentioned previously, but I’ll say it again here because it’s so important. You’ll need a timed entry reservation from late May through early September for most areas of the park to enter between 6:00am and 3:00pm. Plan early and get your vehicle entry passes here.
  • Alternatively, you can enter before 6:00am or after 3:00pm if passes are sold out.
  • Carry bear spray. And a bear bell. And be on the lookout at all times. Read more about bear safety here.
  • Leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in, stay on designated trails to protect the fragile undergrowth, and be mindful of our interactions with wildlife. These lakes at Glacier National Park deserve to be protected.
  • When hiking to areas like Iceberg Lake, Grinnell Lake, Avalanche Lake and more, be prepared. Take plenty of water, snacks, the 10 essentials and leave yourself enough time.
  • Stay on the trail!! A single step off the trail can kill 70 microorganisms and damage the fragile ecosystem in the park. It’s critical to stay on the hiking trails at all times.
  • Check Glacier’s official website for when the Going-to-the-Sun road fully opens. Many lakes are along this road, and your best trip to Glacier includes this road being open! (It’s usually mid-July before the road opens.)
Grinnell Lake Glacier National Park woman standing at teal alpine lake with rocky peak in distance
Reaching the lake after the hike to Grinnell Glacier
  • Get a park map when you enter the park and stop by the visitor center to see which trails are closed. It can vary by the day!
  • Dressing in layers is key. The weather can change unexpectedly, so be ready for anything.
  • Take your water shoes! It’s so refreshing to dip your toes into these amazing bodies of water. These are my favorite water shoes and they work perfectly for Glacier!
  • Pack your lunch and snacks for the day. There’s extremely limited food available in the park. Make the most of your time and eat with a view! (Just be sure to dispose of trash – even compostable food scraps – properly.)
  • Pets are not allowed on trails in Glacier National Park.

Must-see lakes at Glacier National Park

vibrant blue water mountains in distance and rocks in foreground
Another view of the beautiful Lake McDonald

Glacier National Park, often referred to as the ‘crown of the continent,’ offers an outdoor adventure like no other. The lakes here, from the iconic Hidden Lake to the breathtaking Iceberg Lake, serve as gateways to some of the most serene and picturesque landscapes imaginable. 

Whether you’re looking forward to epic hikes or roadside stops, this list of the best lakes in Glacier National Park are equally impressive.

I hope you have the best time exploring these lakes!

Related content you might like:
25 INCREDIBLE Things to Do in Glacier National Park (You’ll Absolutely Love)
13 STUNNING and Easy Hikes Glacier National Park You Can’t Miss
Stunning Avalanche Lake Trail: Gem in Glacier National Park (Hiking Guide)

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two photos of lakes and mountains with text that reads 10 stunning lakes in Glacier National Park