GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA
As you can imagine, the Continental Divide is pretty inhospitable, featuring little more than rock and thin air on its north-south course across the country. But Mother Nature made an exception in Montana, where the crest dips to 8,400 feet and mingles with a perfect cocktail of sunlight, oxygen, and precip to create an oasis for flora and fauna. Mountain goats, wolverines, and bears (both kinds) call the area home, while meadows choked with wildflowers cling to the slopes. And so will you, on the 7.6-mile trip along the Garden Wall.
The Highline Trail hits you with major exposure right out of the gate, delivering you to a 3-foot-wide shelf etched into a rock wall with 500-foot drop-offs in the first quarter-mile. Though the stress-sweat section lasts a mere .3 mile—and a hand cable on the cliff adds
a layer of safety—there’s no railing, so make the rock your friend. After that, leave the crowds as you hug the cliffs of the Garden Wall on a relatively mellow journey to Granite Park, bobbing through alpine meadows with long views of Glacier’s toothy topography. At Granite Park, you can head about 4 miles down to Going-to-theSun Road via the Loop Trail to catch the shuttle back, or stay awhile: Spend the night either in the Granite Park Chalet (reservations required; graniteparkchalet.com), an early-1900s hiker’s hostel with cots and a stove, or in the tree-shaded campsites nearby (reservations also required). Once you’ve gotten this far, you simply can’t go wrong.
Trailhead Logan Pass (48.6956, -113.7177) Shuttle Take the free return shuttle to Logan Pass. Season July to October Permit Required ($7/person per night); reserve online for $40 extra. Contact nps.gov/glac
Get face to face with Grinnell and Salamander Glaciers on the Highline.