Settling in for a peaceful day of fishing on the edge of a pristine glacier lake is a dream come true for many vacationers, if only thousands of other vacationers weren’t looking for the exact same thing. Many people retreat to the mountains for peace and quiet, but they often don’t find it at Glacier National Park—at least not during the peak summer months.  However, vacationing at Glacier National Park for a week during the winter is an ideal mountain getaway.

A great way to kick off your week away is with the Amtrak Empire Builder train to see the beautiful mountains starting in Whitefish, Montana. The Empire Builder runs right into Essex, which is in the heart of the park’s rugged peaks. Essex is home to the Izaak Walton Inn, which is dedicated to providing an authentic Montanan experience. The inn has a no electronics policy, so visitors can enjoy a distraction-free experience.

Many of the roads are closed during the winter, so snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing are the only way to access the beautiful trails through the park. The east bank of Lake McDonald, also known as Going-to-the-Sun Road, is a popular (but not too popular) spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Snow-adventuring newcomers can join in on walks lead by park rangers on Saturdays and Sundays. The rangers can help you get acquainted with the area and with snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

If you’re looking for something more extreme, ditch the cross-country skis for some downhill skis and head out with a backcountry skiing guide. Make sure that your guide is Avalanche certified before hitting the rugged glacier terrain.

A peaceful day of fishing is still a possibility during winter—ice fishing, that is. All lakes are open for year-round fishing, and the banks will not be packed with other fishermen during the winter. Don’t forget to dress warmly and bring your pole and ice drill.

The solitude of winter in Glacier National Park is infectious and keeps travelers coming back year after year. Tim Johnson, a frequent visitor of the park, describes the winter serenity: “Tracks that covered the whole snow covered road at the beginning begin to diminish until finally, only one beautiful solitary line of singletrack remains. This is Glacier National Park in the winter, and you are alone and at one with the mountains.” The park is a must-visit destination, so take advantage of the peace and quiet of the winter lull at Glacier National Park.

Tiffany Peterson