McDonald Falls

Glacier National Park / Flathead County, Montana, USA

Rating: 1     Difficulty: 1
McDonald Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

McDonald Falls was one of two roadside waterfalls that Julie and I encountered while briefly touring the western side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. We thought the scenery on this side of the park was less dramatic than the east side (at least closer to Lake McDonald), and we felt the same way about the waterfalls here as well. Nonetheless, it seemed like it was still quite popular here as it seemed to have a bit more traffic than the east side. Over the years, I suspect that the reason why was because the Avalanche Creek Trail leading up to the scenic Avalanche Lake was wildly popular. One of these days, I'm going to do that hike to see for myself why the place is so popular.

Anyways, there was a narrow viewing area for this falls that was accessed via short stairs descending from the road, but it seemed like the views were obstructed no matter where we stood. It turned out that the best spot to view McDonald Falls (at least in my mind) was not even from the narrow lookout area. It was from the road before descending the stairs (though that depended on how thick the obstructing vegetation was).




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PHOTO JOURNAL

We got this view of Glacier National Park's eastern end as we made the long drive south and around the park (due to road closures) to enter the west side where we'd eventually get to McDonald FallsWe got this view of Glacier National Park's eastern end as we made the long drive south and around the park (due to road closures) to enter the west side where we'd eventually get to McDonald Falls
McDonald Falls was just upstream from the headwaters of Lake McDonald, which was both scenic in its own right while also providing a surprisingly good spot to view the sunsetMcDonald Falls was just upstream from the headwaters of Lake McDonald, which was both scenic in its own right while also providing a surprisingly good spot to view the sunset
This was the context of the short trail and roadside pullout by the McDonald FallsThis was the context of the short trail and roadside pullout by the falls

Looking in the other direction towards the pullout by a porta-potty right at the McDonald Falls viewLooking in the other direction towards the pullout by a porta-potty right at the McDonald Falls View

Contextual look at McDonald Falls with backing mountains as seen in August 2017Contextual look at the falls with backing mountains as seen in August 2017

The official viewing area for the falls as seen in September 2010 when the falls was in high flowThe official viewing area for the falls as seen in September 2010 when the falls was in high flow

This was our view of the falls from that official viewing areaThis was our view of the falls from that official viewing area


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Video showing about as much of McDonald Falls as I could see through the foliage


Right to left sweep starting at the falls and ending downstream


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From the West Glacier turnoff for Glacier National Park, drive east for a couple of miles to a three-way junction, then turn right to get onto the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Continue east on the road for roughly 11 miles as the road skirts the eastern shores of Lake McDonald. There's a large pullout area on the west side of the road.

For context, West Glacier was 50 miles (2 hours) west of St Mary via the Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass, but since it was closed during our visit, we had to take the Roosevelt Highway to the south, which made the drive 89 miles (also 2 hours), but significantly less scenic. In addition, West Glacier was 33 miles (45 minutes drive) northeast of Kalispell and 136 miles (2.5 hours drive) north of Missoula.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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RELATED PAGES



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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Yes been there! (MacDonald Falls) 
Actually, the best place to view the falls is from the trail on the other side. See our blog with pictures http://www.girlsinglacier.com/hikes-blog

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