The Journey to Glacier National Park from Missoula

  • Millions of people visit Glacier National Park each year, and one of the easiest ways to get there is a car rental from the airport. Here are some of our favorite travel recommendations for the journey to Glacier National Park and which rental car to choose for the trip.

    view of grinnell glacier hiking trail

    What Does Glacier National Park Have to Offer?

    Filled with jagged peaks, alpine lakes, wild forests, and of course, glaciers, Glacier National Park is a world-famous natural wonder located in Montana. Designated in 1910, the park is home to an extensive array of flora and fauna. Its healthy ecosystem is inhabited by hundreds of bird species, amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals. In addition to deer, mountain goats, and sheep, you may well see grizzly bears near or inside Glacier National Park, so be sure to pack airport-approved bear spray and bear bells in your rental car to have on hand for emergencies. Glacier Park is home to the most pristine glacial terrain left in the lower 48 states. While it is technically open year round, many portions do close during the winter, making the summer season from the end of June to the end of August the best time to visit. 

    During your time in the park, be sure to enjoy some of its 700 miles of trails which offer beautiful hikes of various distances and difficulties. For a calm daytime hike, try the Hidden Lake Nature Trail, or if you’re in search of something a bit more adventurous, challenge yourself on the 10.3-mile Grinnell Glacier. Lake McDonald is Glacier National Park’s largest lake and is an absolute must-see, spanning ten miles long and over a mile wide. Consider renting a canoe or kayak to capture all of its beauty right on the water. Last but not least, Going-to-the-Sun road can be found winding over 50 miles through the heart of Glacier National Park, making it the perfect adventure to tackle in your rental car. The road is known for being an engineering wonder, featuring twists and turns, and opening up to incredible vistas and glacier views. While this road can be driven from end to end in about two hours, do expect delays due to construction or wildlife. 

    What Should I Expect on My Journey?

    Your journey from the Missoula airport to Glacier National Park would take about two and a half to three hours by rental car if you were to drive non-stop. Expect to pay an entrance fee when you arrive with prices varying based on the season and the length of your stay. For a 7-day automobile pass in the summer months, Glacier park charges $25.00. There are two routes to Glacier National Park from Missoula, one heading west from Missoula and the other heading north. The western route, while a few minutes longer, often has less traffic and has some extra cool stops along the way. If you do choose to go north, choose either of the Flathead Lakeshores for incredible scenery along the way! 

    The drive from Missoula to Glacier National Park is not necessarily easy, but it is beautiful. As you drive on US-93, you’ll have an incredible view of the Mission Mountains to your right before you pass along the shoreline of the beautiful Flathead Lake. Moving past the lake, the mountain views will become more grand, and you will be able to see Glacier Park in the distance. 

    The drive to Glacier is a little longer than your average day trip from Missoula, but of course it is worth the journey. If you make your trip to Glacier National Park in the right rental car, your journey should be smooth and enjoyable.

    What Car Should I Rent to Explore the Park?

    The journey to Glacier National Park has some difficult terrain, including steep roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, and bumps. You’ll need a vehicle that can tackle whatever you throw at it. Additionally, you may require lots of seating for larger groups, spacious storage areas for luggage and additional gear, and a comfortable interior to make your driving experience fun. Missoula Car Rentals is equipped with a fleet of vehicles that are perfect for your trip to Glacier National Park and can be dropped off to you right at the airport! Some of our very best options include the following:

    • Our Cadillac Escalade is a premium luxury option for your group of up to 8 passengers. With ample storage space for up to 7 suitcases and all of the interior comforts you expect, this 4-wheel drive rental car will get you to Glacier National Park in comfort and style.
    • Our Toyota Tundra 4×4 is a four-door vehicle ready for anything. With lots of storage in the truck bed, seating for 5, and tough driving capabilities, this truck is perfect for your Glacier adventure. 
    • Our Nissan 3500 van is another great option for larger groups of up to 12 passengers looking to travel in comfort. With a capable engine and ample safety features, your group will be sure to enjoy the drive.
    open road leading to snowy mountains

    Where Should I Stop Along the Way?

    Driving your rental car from Missoula to Glacier National Park is a great opportunity to savor not only the destination but the journey itself! The incredible views on route to the park pair perfectly with the array of food options, wildlife stops, and even places to take a dip. The stretch of road from Missoula to Glacier is packed with activities for your entire group to enjoy. 

    • Starting off in Missoula, the options are endless before you even hit the road, with some of the best activities in Missoula being hiking the “M” and visiting the vibrant downtown area. 
    • Just under a 30-minute drive from Missoula, you’ll find the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas. Located on the Flathead Reservation, this spot features beautiful mountain views, gardens, and stunning white sculptures in a peaceful atmosphere. 
    • If you’re ready for a snack along the way, the Windmill Village Bakery in Ravalli, Montana, is a local favorite. This German-style bakery is funky and cute, serving a variety of pies, turnovers, muffins, and local produce. 
    • Also located in the Flathead Reservation is the National Bison Range. This 18,000-acre refuge for bison is a beautiful, wide-open landscape on the way to Glacier National Park where you can catch a glimpse of bison herds from inside your rental car. 
    • Flathead Lake is a beautiful stop that can range in duration from a quick look to take in the views to a multiple-day excursion. As the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, Flathead is home to 13 recreation sites and a few state parks, making it a great place to enjoy both water and land activities. Wild Horse Island State Park on Flathead Lake is a great place to see wild horses and other wildlife.
     kayaking on a lake alongside a sailboat
    • Bigfork is one of the most charming towns along Flathead Lake. Take a walk through this cute downtown and visit one of its many art galleries, bakeries, cafes, and pubs. Looking to keep exploring Flathead? Rent a kayak at Base Camp Bigfork and paddle to your heart’s content. 
    • At this point in your rental car journey, you will have arrived near Glacier National Park, and you’ve most likely worked up an appetite! Luckily, The Whisky Barn and Two Sisters Cafe are within reach. Two Sisters’ huckleberry pie is famous locally in Babb, Montana, and can be found just past the park’s entrance. Wash it down with small-batch whiskey at The Whisky Barn in Coram, Montana, crafted locally with glacier water!
    glacier national park in the distance

    Why Choose Missoula Car Rentals?

    Missoula Car Rentals is your best option for a car rental for your trip to Glacier National Park. Even before your adventure begins, you’ll appreciate Missoula Car Rental’s concierge-level service and fully customizable pick-up and drop-off experience. For the utmost convenience, arrange to have your Glacier Park rental car dropped off to you right at the Missoula International Airport! 

    Each and every vehicle in our fleet is ready to explore Montana and tackle all of the park’s exciting, steep, rocky, and bumpy terrain. While taking a road trip to Glacier is undoubtedly an incredible adventure, it can be difficult driving at times and the unexpected can happen, especially on this route’s unpredictable terrain. A 4-wheel-drive rental car is a must for Glacier National Park.

    Our available vehicles are ready to rent without delay, so don’t keep your road trip experience waiting. Call us to request a quote today and get started! We can’t wait to help you enjoy your incredible journey to Glacier National Park.