Known as the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park encompasses more than one million acres of terrain. Explore glacial-carved mountain peaks and valleys, cascading waterfalls and the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which runs through the heart of the park and crests the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. The park is open year-round and offers sightseeing, wildlife watching, fall foliage, boating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, bicycling, fine dining and luxury accommodations. If you live in Portland and want to find a place with a magnificent natural landscape, then taking a road trip to Glacier National Park couldn't be better. To help you with your planning, here is our complete guide for going on a road trip from Portland Oregon to Glacier National Park.
Road Trip from Portland Oregon to Glacier National Park
St Regis Travel Center
National Bison Range
Glacier National Park
We recommend you can take to get to Glacier National Park but this driving itinerary will head to Montana via Spokane along the I-84 and I-90. This driving itinerary will detail some of the best stops in Oregon, Eastern Washington, Idaho, and Montana on your way to Glacier National Park. You could potentially complete the trip in two days if you are on a tight schedule but we recommend a minimum of three days (not including time spent at the national park of course).
Other options include taking Highway 12 from Pendleton to Missoula or taking a northern route from Spokane to Glacier National Park. You could also add a side trip to Pendleton and Walla Walla too if you would like to explore Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington further.
Best Stop 1: Vista House
Located in the Crown Point State Scenic Corridor 40700 Historic Columbia River Hwy Corbett, OR 97019.
The Vista House is an octagonal stone building (approximately 44 feet in diameter and 55 feet high) that was built in 1917 and sits on a rocky cliff above the Columbia River Gorge. This site has one of the best and most beautiful views overlooking the Columbia River and gorge.
It was constructed as a place to provide travelers a place to stop and appreciate the scenery and as a place of rest. The scenic point which sits 733 feet high is a good first stop on your road trip to see the landscape you are about to drive through.
Note: The Vista House is currently closed due to the coronavirus. But you are allowed to park in the parking areas to view the scenery.
Vista House: Tours and Tickets from $19
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Best Stop 2: Oneonta Gorge
This popular adventure up Oneonta Gorge is extremely unique. You can visit Oneonta Gorge any time of year, but you dare only hike up it when the water is very low, because you must actually walk up the river, there is no trail.... the river is the trail.
Oneonta Gorge is a slot chasm found right beside the scenic Columbia River Highway that leads to Lower Oneonta Falls.
Note: This trail is still closed due to the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. You can however still drive to nearby Horsetail Falls.
Oneonta Gorge: Tours and Tickets from $69
Best Stop 3: Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls is the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest with more than 2 million stopping by each year to take in the views.
A waterfall as magnificent and memorable as any in the country is located just a 30- minute drive outside of Portland. Visiting Multnomah Falls, a 611-foot-tall roaring, awe-inspiring cascade of icy water, lets you experience the power and beauty of nature up close and with ease. From the parking area off of I-84, a 5-minute walk is all that separates you from the exhilarating spray at the base of the falls.
Although you can see the top portion of the falls from the highway, to view both tiers you have to walk to the viewing area located in a carved-out opening in the rock face. Tilting your head up in the narrow rocky confines of the steep cliffs, you get a mind-boggling perspective on the sheer magnitude of the falls.
Unlike many of the West's famous falls, Multnomah Falls does not dry up in the late summer. Rainwater, an underground spring and snow melt feed the falls through all four seasons and ensure a spectacular sight any day of the year.
Pets are allowed at Multnomah Falls, but must be controlled and on a leash at all times.
Multnomah Falls does NOT require a Northwest Forest Pass.
Spray and mist cause a cooler micro-climate within the falls viewing area so be sure to bring a sweater in summer or coat in winter for added warmth.
Multnomah Falls: Tours and Tickets from $19
Best Stop 4: Tri-Cities
The confluence of the Snake, Yakima and Columbia Rivers has produced an aquatic playground second to none. The area's inviting waterways beckon water lovers from all over the region to enjoy sailing, power and pleasure boating, waterskiing, swimming, fishing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, kayaking and much more. Explore these Tri-Cities, Washington (Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, West Richland) vacation ideas and start planning your trip.
From bicycling to bowling, hunting to fishing, soccer to snowskiing, recreational opportunities are endless. Due in part to the area's exceptional climate, golf is one of the Tri-Cities most popular sports. The area's ten beautiful courses challenge the most experienced golfer as well as the beginner. It is a very hard winter indeed when a round of golf cannot be played nearly every day of the year, making it one of the top Washington vacation spots for players of all levels.
You can also taste wine here. The Tri-Cities boasts more than 200 wineries within a one hour radius, producing some of the finest wines in the country. The wineries range in size from nationally renowned wineries producing over a half million cases of wine annually, to small independent wineries, producing an award-winning wines.
Where to stay in Tri-Cities?
We highly recommend the The Lodge at Columbia Point.
The Lodge at Columbia Point has a restaurant, free bikes, an outdoor swimming pool and fitness center in Richland. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hotel features a hot tub and a concierge service.
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Best Stop 5: Palouse Falls
The iconic Palouse Falls that has been deemed the official waterfall of Washington State is not to be missed. At the end of the last ice age, repeated glacial floods, known as the Missoula Floods, swept across eastern Washington carving out the unique scablands landscape we see today. Among the coulees, potholes, buttes, and plateaus, Palouse Falls remains as one of the magnificent and lasting remnants of these glacial floods. It is the only major waterfall left along this thousands of years old glacial flood path, and as of February 12, 2014, is Washington's official state waterfall. Standing at a height of 198 feet and surrounded by striking basalt cliffs, the powerful waterfall lies on the Palouse River upstream of the confluence with the Snake River.
From the parking area, where there is a nice overlook of the falls, a graveled path wends for one-third of a mile around and through grassland and back to the parking area. Keep an eye out for wildflowers that add splashes of color to the landscape. You will see a dirt path ahead that descends into the canyon; this is a user-created social trail that the State Park encourages hikers NOT use. It is quite steep and riddled with loose rocks making for a potentially hazardous descent. In late 2015, due to misuse of these trails and many injured hikers, the park closed the bootpaths leading to the base of the falls, reopening them with warnings about hiker safety.
Note: The campground at Palouse Falls is closed and no overnight parking is allowed.
Best Stop 5: Spokane
A mixture of urban chic and outdoor adventures, Spokane has something for everyone. Taste food by James-Beard-nominated chefs at Sante or The Wandering Table. Listen to live music at The Bartlett or the symphony at the iconic Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. Glide over the breathtaking Spokane Falls, situated right downtown, in the SkyRide, rated as one of the world’s best gondolas. Kids can feed the Garbage-Eating Goat or slide down the giant Radio Flyer Red Wagon in Riverfront Park.
Where to stay in Spokane?
We highly recommend the The Davenport Grand, Autograph Collection.
Boasting an on-site restaurant and lounge, The Davenport Grand, Autograph Collection is located in the city center of Spokane, Washington. Connected to the Spokane Convention Center, this hotel offers a town car service within a 1.9 mi radius.
Featuring custom-made furniture, each spacious guest room here features a flat-screen cable TV, privacy curtains, and an private bathroom with a marble walk-in shower. Free WiFi access is available throughout the hotel.
After a long day, guests of The Davenport Grand can relax with a cocktail at the on-site bar, or enjoy a cup of espresso in the lobby’s espresso bar. For added convenience, a business center, banquet facilities, and a concierge service can be found at the hotel.
Best Stop 6: Coeur d'Alene
While it may sound like a French village, Coeur d'Alene (pronounced core-da-lane) is decidedly all-American. Located in northern Idaho, this lakefront resort offers five-star amenities in a beautifully rugged setting. Visitors enjoy everything from pristine golf courses and professional quality tennis courts to hiking on pine-forested trails and biking through natural preserves. The sparkling Coeur d'Alene Lake is the center of most of the action. Sunbathe on the beach, water ski, kayak or tour the area by sea plane. At night, dine in fine restaurants and see top-rated shows. With upscale attractions in an unspoiled setting, Coeur d'Alene offers visitors the best of both worlds.
Best Stop 7: Wallace
The tiny town of Wallace located just off I-90 once produced more silver than any other mining town in the United States. This charming town which boasts impressive mountain views has a beautiful downtown area filled with well-preserved Queen Ann buildings.
You can visit the Wallace District Mining Museum in Wallace. The museum displays old mining equipment and details the mining history of Wallace. There is even an exhibit that allows you to experience walking through a real mine. The staff here are very knowledgeable so feel free to ask them any questions you like.
Besides the mining museum, you can find cute boutique stores, cafe’s, and several western-style saloons.
An interesting fact for film buffs is that Wallace was the fictional Washington state town of Dante’s Peak in the movie Dante’s Peak.
Best Stop 8: St Regis Travel Center
St. Regis Travel Center is an all-in-one family stop located in St. Regis, Montana the gateway to Glacier National Park.
The St Regis Travel Center is a good place to break up the drive, to stop and get gas, and to try your first Montana huckleberry shake. Or huckleberry lemonade. Or huckleberry coffee. Or huckleberry fudge.
They will even give you a sample of the huckleberry fudge if you like.
The travel center even has a trout aquarium inside the store that kids will love, a restaurant, and gift store. The gift store is has an amazing collection of Montana related products to remember your road trip. Fill up on their free popcorn and spend some time looking at the really cool merchandise.
Best Stop 9: National Bison Range
This region consists of 19,000 acres of natural grassland, which is home to about 500 American bison and other inhabitants such as birds, whitetail and mule deer, elk, and bighorn sheep.
Pay warm season entrance fees here ($5 per vehicle).
Best Stop 10: Glacier National Park
Named for the remnants of glaciers from the ice age, Glacier National Park is located on the border of Canada and the United States and is often called the "Crown of the Continent" since it sits at the headwaters of the streams that flow into the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and Hudson Bay. A favorite among hikers, the park features a variety of trails for all skill levels, ranging from the easy Trail of the Cedars to the challenging Grinnell Glacier. What's more, the park boasts more than 700 lakes, numerous waterfalls and two mountain ranges, spread across more than 1 million acres that shelter an array of wildlife.
Aside from its breathtaking geological features, it's also home to a fair amount of history. The Going-to-the-Sun Road – a scenic, 52-mile drive through the park – is a National Historic Landmark and an engineering marvel that offers spectacular views, as well as access to popular hiking trails. Plus, many of the park's lodges, chalets and hotels were constructed by the Great Northern Railway in the early 20th century and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Click here to find out top attractions in Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park Tours from $73
Where to stay in Glacier National Park?
We highly recommend the Glacier Outdoor Center.
Glacier Outdoor Center is located just under 1 miles from the west entrance of Glacier National Park. The cottages feature a private stocked trout pond and a full kitchen. Guests can enjoy a full service outdoor store and fly shop on site.
A separate sitting area with a fireplace and satellite TV is included in all cottages at the Glacier Outdoor Center. A gas grill and covered patio are also provided. Guests can use free Wi-Fi.
Guided tours, including fishing, river tours, and horseback riding, are available. A tour desk to assist guests with area attractions is also provided at the chalet.
This chalet is 22 miles from Glacier Park International Airport. Whitefish Mountain Resort is less than 39 miles away. The property provides free parking.
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