Shooting Glacier National Park

I made a recent trip to Glacier National Park, both for family sightseeing and, of course, making a few photos I hope are sufficiently good to share. 

Getting There

The real purpose—and the heart of the park—is the famous Going to the Sun Road, which runs across the western continental divide and through the Rocky Mountains just south of the Canadian border.  The first challenge is being able to drive that road.  To do so requires both a park pass, which can be purchased at the gate, and also a pass to drive the Going to the Sun Road.  The National Park Service is limiting the number of cars that can drive that route daily in order to keep the numbers of tourists manageable and the experience good for all visitors.  The passes cost $2 and can be purchased on line.  The problem is getting one.  They are made available daily at 8:00 Mountain Time and each day’s allotment is snatched up in a matter for 2-3 minutes.  It requires coming back on successive days to try for a pass, and a bit of luck, to get one.  Fortunately, my friend and traveling companion succeeded.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park Montana


Because our room was on the west side of the park, we drove through the park from west to east.  Since we traveled in the early afternoon, the sun was mostly at our back for eastward-facing photos.  However, by the time we arrived at Saint Mary Lake and the iconic Wild Goose Island location, we were facing into the sun, which made for difficult conditions for that highly desirable photo.

Our drive from Great Falls to Eureka, where we stayed, was in hazy conditions, due to the smoke from numerous wildfires spread across the west.  Fortunately, the smoke conditions were somewhat relieved once we got into the park, and they did not impair our photos significantly.

Glacier National Park, Montana. I failed to record all of the locations I was photographing, so I don’t know which mountains these are.


Because many of our photos were made during quick stops at pull-off locations, most were made handheld.  However, I took a small Peak Design travel tripod with me and used it on several instances to help stabilize my 70-200mm lens.  Most of my wider images were made with a Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera and the 24-70mm Z mount lens.  However, I had just purchased the 70-200mm f/2.8 Z mount lens prior to leaving and was eager to give it a tryout, which I did on several occasions.

Lake McDonald, at the Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier National Park, Montana


I purchased a 15-inch Lenovo L440 Thinkpad for editing photos while on travel.  I use Adobe Lightroom Classic to manage my photo catalog and do initial processing.  After that, I relied on a variety of packages for editing: On1 Photo Raw, Nik Viveza and Color Efex Pro 4, and Silver Efex Pro.

Glacier National Park, Montana. Here’s another location I did not record. This is poor photographic practice!

The Images

Some of my better images are shown here.  You can judge for yourself whether I have been successful in capturing some of the beauty of this magnificent park.

Wild Goose Island, Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park. There was enough smoke in this backlit scene that it did not render well in color. I converted it to B&W using Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Published by Norman Reid

I worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 27 years in the field of rural community and economic development. I retired a few years ago and have been devoting my time to photography and writing. I've been a semi-pro photographer for more than 25 years and sell my work on the Web. I live in rural Virginia not far from the Shenandoah Valley.

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