How to Travel From Seattle to Glacier National Park by Plane, Car, and Train

Glacier National Park

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Glacier National Park in northern Montana is a popular getaway spot about 550 miles (885 kilometers) from Seattle, Washington. A stellar and special place often called the Crown of the Continent, the park is easy to get from Seattle by car, train, and plane—the fastest option. Visitors can see some glaciers up close, wildlife like Grizzly bears and moose, native plant and bird species, as well as learn about the area's history. Glacier, along with its neighbor Waterton Lakes National Park across the border in Canada, is designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site.

  Time Cost Best For
Plane 4 hours From $263 Quickest trip
Car 9 to 11 hours 550 miles (885 kilometers) 
About $55 in gas one way
Scenic route
Train 15 hours From $119 Adventurous journey 

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Seattle to Glacier National Park?

Driving from Seattle to Glacier National Park is one of the best road trips in the Northwest and costs start at only about $55 in gas one way. It takes just enough time to have an adventure but isn’t so long that the kids will be miserable or you’ll run out of patience. The trip takes between nine and 11 hours and can be done in one day if you just want to get it over with. You can also break it into a few days and enjoy some cool sights along the way.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Seattle to Glacier National Park?

If what you seek is the shortest, sweetest way to get to Glacier National Park so you have more time to spend at the Montana destination itself, flying is the best way to go. From Sea-Tac Airport south of downtown Seattle, you can catch flights to a few airports in the vicinity of the park. Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Montana, is the closest, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the West Entrance of the park. The journey will take almost four hours; total costs start at $263, including a one-hour taxi after landing.

How Long Is the Train Ride?

Perhaps the most interesting way to get to Glacier National Park from Seattle is to take an Amtrak train. You can board at King Street Station in Seattle and end up at the West Glacier Station within the park bounds in approximately 15 hours. The Amtrak Empire Builder usually departs twice a day, offering a more direct route than other itineraries that may be longer and involve switching trains or getting onto a bus. Prices range between $65 and $200—choose the most comfortable seats if possible for some space to spread out and relax. Roomettes have meals in the dining car included, and the seats convert into beds to sleep for the night. You’ll enjoy views of rugged landscapes and open skies, especially after you get out of Western Washington. If you'd like to have all the details squared away, you can book packages that combine a train trip with hotels and tours of the park.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Glacier National Park?

You'll have beautiful scenery no matter what time of year you visit. The warm summer months of July through September are a great time for hiking, checking out wildflowers, and exploring in general. June and October are also nice, but snow may be blocking the higher elevation areas. If you are seeking a place to ski cross-country and go snowshoeing, winter is a more ideal time for Glacier National Park.

What’s the Most Scenic Route to Glacier National Park?

The most direct path is to take I-90 East from Seattle into Montana, turn off at MT-135 W, and continue onto MT-28 E and US-93 N to the park entrance. On I-90 most of your adventure awaits. Between Seattle and Spokane, check out Snoqualmie Falls; sample fresh fruit at road stands in Eastern Washington (especially during the cherry season usually from June through August); catch views from the Wild Horses Monument overlooking the Columbia River in Yakima, or have some wine or a spa treatment at Cave B Estate Winery in Quincy. Even with a few stops, you can make it to Spokane—roughly the halfway point—by nightfall and stay the night. Just a few miles east of Spokane, Couer D'Alene, Idaho, is much smaller and has twice the charm; it's a lovely place to stroll along the lake and stay overnight. Travelers can also take an approximately 30-minute longer route up US-95 N and U.S.-2E/U.S. Hwy 2 W, passing Kootenai National Forest for hiking, camping, and spotting beautiful wildlife and nature.

What Time Is It in Glacier National Park?

Glacier National Park is in Mountain Daylight Time, which is one hour later than Seattle, a city on Pacific Daylight Time. For example, 5:30 p.m. in Seattle would be 6:30 p.m. in Glacier National Park.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport? 

Once you land 6 miles northeast of Kalispell at Glacier Park International Airport, it's about an hour's drive to the park. Major car rental companies can be found inside the airport. Visitors can also catch a shuttle (starting at $81), a taxi (from $110), or limo to the park (check with local companies for rates). Check with hotels regarding shuttle services they may offer. No matter what form of transportation you choose, advance reservations are recommended.

What Is There to Do in Glacier National Park?

Glacier National Park offers gorgeous landscapes with mountains, glaciers, forests, and lakes as well as plenty of outdoor activities for visitors all year who want a taste of tranquility. Enjoy rare wildlife viewing at North Fork, scenic drives on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, recreational sports like hiking, fishing, biking, camping, and skiing, nature photography, and more.

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