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Columbia Falls is the last major town along U.S. Highway 2 before Glacier National Park; the town has been nicknamed the "Gateway to Glacier." The park begins to thaw in late spring and early summer, when snowy embankments transform into green meadows lined with colorful wildflowers. Going-to-the-Sun Road is arguably the centerpiece of the park—the 50-mile byway weaves through the mountains past emerald lakes and peaks that were carved out by glaciers. The most interior portion of the road doesn't open until summer, but an 11.5-mile stretch from the west entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge is open and maintained year-round for cars. At Lake McDonald area, visitors can ditch the car and set out on foot or on snowshoe to explore the alpine scenery on surrounding paths. Keep an eye out for the park's resident grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, and elk, as they may badger you to share your trail-mix recipe. Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.

100 Saint Andrews Dr
Columbia Falls,