Winter Weather Advisory in Effect for Glacier National Park

Even as summer officially begins, the northern Rocky Mountains along the CDT cling to winter. Two recent storms have dropped snow at high elevations in Montana’s Glacier National Park (home to the CDT’s northern terminus), and more snow is in the forecast.

For CDT hikers planning a SOBO start or looking to flip north to avoid snowpack in Colorado, conditions may require extra planning, flexibility, and potentially snow travel gear.

A Winter Weather Advisory issued June 17, 2024 by the National Weather Service called for up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) of snow with up to 8 inches (20cm) in certain spots. Snow has generally been lingering in Glacier National Park above 5,800 feet (1770m), leading the park to issue a warning on advising hikers to prepare for winter travel conditions with crampons, ice axes, GPS, and self-rescue equipment for safety.

Similarly, in early June, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition warned hikers to be wary of avalanche warnings in Colorado and the aforementioned winter conditions in Glacier.

Montana had its driest winter in two decades this year, according to local newspaper the Daily Montanan. These late-season storms have provided much-needed water and improved local attitudes toward the upcoming fire season. The meltwaters from recent storms will help to replenish streams essential for backpackers and wildlife along with reducing the probability of severe wildfire.

Snow Water Equivalent data for Flattop Mountain (three miles west of the CDT centerline) in Glacier National Park. The black line indicates 2024 levels, well below the 30-year mean and median (green and gray respectively).

Conditions in the mountains are constantly changing, and it’s important to continue monitoring the snowpack and other backcountry hazards as the season evolves. Good resources include the National Weather Service (or your trusted weather forecast of choice), the National Water and Climate Center for snowpack data, and for weather on the PCT or the AT,

CDT hikers entering Glacier National Park should ask the rangers at the permitting stations about current conditions as they will have the most up-to-date information.

If you are heading out on a thru-hike (or any hike) where you’re likely to encounter snow and other wintry conditions, ensure you have the proper gear for the conditions and know how to use it.

Trek contributor Ariella Nardizzi goes in-depth on Snow Travel for Thru-Hikers and reminds readers that “fundamental snow safety skills aren’t just for mountaineers and winter hikers. It’s important for anyone recreating in the backcountry to know what to do when encountering snow fields or high-angle alpine terrain.”

Featured image (from 2o22): Jenn Wall.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?