With 1,583 square miles, 26 glaciers, 175 mountains, 745 miles of hiking trails, 1,004 camping sites, and 762 lakes Glacier National Park offers too much to explore during an entire lifetimeto say nothing of the typical summer vacation.
But perhaps the best approach is to sign up your nine-year-old as a Junior Ranger, a program set up by the National Park Service for children ages 8-12, giving them a chance to learn something while having a little fun. Hikes like Trail of the Cedars (1.4 miles), attending a ranger program at the Apgar Village Visitors Center, or identifying a park rule
Of course the region boasts some of the world's best fly-fishing, an activity that can be enjoyed by the entire brood. Glacier Guides (800.521.7238) offers a fly-fishing school for all ages. In the morning, a classroom session covers equipment, fly selection, reading river currents, and more. And once you've learned the basics, lunch awaits and then it's time for a real fishing trip on either the Middle Fork or North Fork of the Flathead River. Cost for fly-fishing school is $455 per person and includes lunch. You'll need to purchase a non-resident fishing license online or at a Montana sporting goods store such as Sportsman & Ski Haus prior to your lesson. Once you've learned this timeless sport, take your new skills and put them to the test. Fishing in Glacier is permitted, just make sure to pick up a copy of Montana's Fishing Regulations at any of the Visitors Centers. You'll find cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon, grayling, and rainbow trout at the end of your line when fishing the Middle and North Fork of the Flathead River inside the park. Just remember to release them, per state regulations.
If your nine-year-old is up for a little bit of adventure, then take her whitewater rafting. Wild River Adventures (800.700.7056) offers a family-friendly, two-day trip on the Middle Fork of the Flathead. There are plenty of thrilling rapids that are safe, never rising above a Class IV, so no previous rafting experience is necessary. Along the way, you'll see waterfalls, mountain goats, osprey, eagleseven wolves. The two-day adventure covers 20 miles, with each mile alternating between calm waters and rapids; the Glacier Park views are, of course, a constant. Camp on the river bank at night and enjoy a hot meal prepared by your guides. All trips are inclusive and also cover equipment rentals, meals and guide service. Prices for this two-day adventure start at $245 for youths and $310 for adults.
-Amy A. Clark