Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
Lake McDonald Valley is the hub of activity on the west side of Glacier National Park. Once occupied by massive glaciers that carved this area thousands of years ago, the valley is now filled with spectacular sights, hiking trails, diverse species of plants and animals, historic chalets, and the grand Lake McDonald Lodge.
Ten miles long and nearly 500 feet deep (152.4 m), Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the park, is a direct result of glacial carving. High peaks surrounding the lake all show evidence of the power of glaciers to carve even the hardest of rock. The powerful glaciers that carved the broad “u-shaped” valley that Lake McDonald sits in also carved smaller hanging valleys with wonderful waterfalls that are accessible by numerous hiking trails.
Two popular day hikes originate in Lake McDonald Valley, Avalanche Lake, and the wheelchair-accessible Trail of the Cedars (links take you to eHikes). With Glacier’s shuttle, getting to these trailheads and other destinations in the valley has never been easier.
Along the shore of Lake McDonald sits Lake McDonald Lodge. Constructed in 1913-1914 to resemble a rustic hunting lodge with Swiss-influenced architecture, this warm and inviting building provides comfort for overnight guests. After a long day of hiking, horseback riding, or a scenic boat tour on the historic DeSmet, cozy up in front of the massive fireplace inside Lake McDonald Lodge or attend a Ranger-led evening program.
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