Top 5 Spots for Winter Wildlife Photography/Glacier National Park

8 Expert Hiking Tips to Know Before Coming to Glacier National Park
February 7, 2019
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Top 5 Spots for Winter Wildlife Photography/Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park Lodging

Winter in Glacier National Park is spectacular!

One can’t help but conjure up the imagination of sitting in the front of a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate and staring out the cabin window as the temperatures drop below zero and the snow starts to fall.  Life on the continental divide on the border of Glacier National Park is no different. An average snowfall of 22o inches, last year 334 inches fell.  First, I cringe a little knowing that once the snow starts it typically won’t stop for 7 months and then my heart starts to race a little bit,  hands get sweaty and everything starts to spin.

My life seems to go into a complete metamorphosis, my baseball cap turns into a thick wool hat that makes my head look uncomfortably small, my t-shirts have since gone. My winter clothing simply makes me look and feel like Ralphie” in a Christmas story, only with bigger snowshoes! After the initial shock of knowing winter is coming, a sense of excitement follows. I know as a wildlife photographer, even though there is snow on the ground and the forests may seem silent, they are very alive. If you venture in and around Glacier National Park and you can capture some amazing shots. In some instances, you may have to throw on some snowshoes!  Keep in mind, most bear attacks are due to photographers encroaching within the animal’s circle of fear and all of these areas listed are good areas to spot bears but be aware.

1. Many Glacier

A great place to see about every animal in the park would be a hike to Bullhead lake and Poi lake but you need to get in there before they closed the road down to cars. Even if they do, throw on your winter boots or snowshoes and walk in and you may see just about every animal in the park, moose would be the top of the list going to bullhead lake. A chance to see bears on the way to Poi lake and a chance to see bighorn sheep.

moose , glacier national park, photography

2. St. Mary

This place never stops surprising me, its one of my favorite spots to search for elk and grizzlies. As you drive in off the road look off to the right in the meadows, especially Two dog flats or Otokomi trail above rising sun.  Keep in mind there are always grizzlies here so be cautious and bring pepper spray if you venture off to the bush!

bull elk, glacier national park

3. Two Medicine

The two medicine road usually will still be open allowing you to get some great shots, head towards the campground by Pray lake and Upper two medicine lake area. Be on the lookout for elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and bears.

big horn sheep glacier national park crossing stream

4. Belly River 

This area is true wilderness that doesn’t seem to get much notice, it’s not so easy to hike into in the winter but lots of surprises. This area is great place for the elusive Lynx, Pine marten and elk inhabit his place most of the year. Just head straight down a very steep incline to get down into the valley and follow trail towards Elizabeth or Cosley lakes.

Lynx, glacier national park

5. North Fork Road

The caveat here is to go to the inside north fork road after it closes to traffic, its pretty area and a great place to look for wolves. They are there but don’t get worked up if you don’t see them since most people never see them. There is a whole lot of cover here for animals to watch you, but as always just be patient.

wolf, glacier national park

Bonus:  East Glacier Village

If you walk reservoir road and just keep walking and you will connect to Scenic point trail you will be surprised by the landscape.  This is a great place for small and large critters, moose, elk, bears, and bighorn sheep. If you’re a birder this is a great place for pygmy and great horned owls. Keep in mind at low light conditions this is one of a hand full of places I see mountain lions so be on the lookout.

pygmy owl, glacier national park

Author bio:

Ted Chase is a professional wildlife photographer born and raised in Montana. Ted and his wife Marabeth run the award-winning Summit Mountain Lodge and steakhouse on the border of Glacier National Park. They are known for their destination weddings which include premiere lodging and fine dining.  Their location offers a great launching point for anyone looking to explore Glacier National Park.  visit: