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By The Way
Detours with locals. Travel tips you can trust.

A local’s guide to Glacier National Park

How to do the Going-to-the-Sun Road right, learn about Native American history and more

A trio eats dinner on Going-to-the-Sun-Road at Glacier National Park in Montana. (Photos by Tailyr Irvine for The Washington Post)

When you grow up in Montana, it’s easy to take for granted the wilderness in your backyard. The Rocky Mountains that line the Flathead Reservation, where I was born and raised, supplied endless access to trails, rivers, waterfalls and lakes. In addition to those mountains, driving a few hours to the south brought us to Yellowstone National Park and driving a couple hours north landed us in Glacier National Park.

Located on the traditional homelands of the Blackfeet, Kootenai, Salish and Qlispe tribes, Glacier offers an opportunity for everyone to connect to the land, learn the history and develop a nuanced understanding of our national parks while exploring one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

The park is generally separated into two sections — the west and east entrances. Both sides offer unique experiences and easy access to over 700 miles of hiking trails. The entire eastern border and entrances are located on the Blackfeet Reservation, which gives you the opportunity to frequent many tribally owned businesses.

My childhood was filled with countless opportunities to camp and hike through some of the most stunning landscapes in America. These experiences shaped who I am, and I’m grateful for my tribes, Salish and Kootenai, and others, as well as agencies who fought for not only the land, but for also guaranteeing that we don’t forget the histories that connect us to it.