“Travel to the edge of the famous Exit Glacier for an up-close and personal experience.
— Mikhaila Redovian
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers
Exit Glacier is a location where you can see, up close and personal, how glaciers leave their mark on a landscape. You can also discover how vegetation reclaims the desolate rocky area exposed by the glacier's recession.
The Exit Glacier Area is open year round. Around mid-November, when the snow season really begins, the road to Exit Glacier is closed to vehicles but accessible by a range of winter recreation including dogsleds, snowmobiles, XC skiers, and fat bikes. The road usually stays closed until early May, so be sure to check the current conditions
if you are visiting during the off season.
Need to Know
Be prepared for high winds, storms, sudden temperature changes, and intense sunlight. Pack plenty of layers, rain gear, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
There are no garbage receptacles or restroom facilities on the trail. Pack out all waste.
A system of short trails at Exit Glacier leads to different viewpoints of the Glacier. Starting from the Exit Glacier Nature Center (EGNC), turn left and follow the Exit Glacier Paved Path
into the cottonwood forest to "Glacier View," a scenic overlook where you'll see Exit Glacier emptying down from the Harding Icefield
. After taking in the view, continue on the path to the next junction.
If you go right here, the Exit Glacier Paved Path
loops back to the parking area. Instead, you'll want to stay left at the trail-side kiosk and continue on toward the "Toe of the Glacier
" and the "Edge of the Glacier."
A short time after turning left at the Kiosk, there is an optional spur toward "Toe of the Glacier
." Getting to the Toe includes crossing the rocky outwash plain. This area may be inaccessible due to flooding and there is no established trail across the plain. If the water level is low, you can pick your way through the rocky outwash to the toe, or terminus. Do not get close to the glacier in places where the ice is overhanging - enormous chunks of ice can calve off without warning.
Regardless of whether you make your way to the Toe, continue on the well-maintained trail to the "Edge of the Glacier." This somewhat strenuous trail will guide you to a wall of blue ice that provides the most dramatic close-up view of Exit Glacier.
Retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Flora & Fauna
This trail wanders through an ecosystem that is a great example of plant succession beneath a retreating glacier. You'll see the entire succession from mosses to fireweed to alder and forest. The NPS has compiled some great information about the succession on their website