Winter quiets Glacier National Park, especially Going-to-the-Sun Road. While summer packs the road with cars, snow buries it in winter. In this quieter season, the Sun Road becomes a route for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
From Lake McDonald Lodge, a ribbon of white winds up through massive peaks rising on both sides of the valley. This snowy road parallels McDonald Creek, sided by icicles. But even in frigid winters, the river tumbles over short waterfalls, which rarely freeze.
Short ski trips go to the lower bridge over McDonald Creek for views. A loop ski adds in a scenic, forested route up a narrow trail along the north side of McDonald Creek to cross back to the Sun Road on a horse bridge. Further destinations include upper McDonald Falls and Avalanche Creek.
The routes range 3-12 miles round trip on gently rolling terrain. You can tailor the trip length to your own skills and energy. Beyond Avalanche Creek, you’ll need avalanche gear and backcountry skills.
Be sure to rent gear in Whitefish or Kalispell before coming to the park. Bring your own snacks, lunch, and hot chocolate as no services are available in winter.