About Swiftcurrent Falls
Swiftcurrent Falls was a waterfall that we didn’t realize was a major waterfall in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park.
In fact, we had initially dismissed it as a run-of-the-mill cascade to be lumped in with the other waterfalls on our Many Glacier Waterfalls page until we re-evaluated the literature years later.
That was when we realized that it was indeed a legitimate waterfall that ought to have its own page.
After our first trip to Glacier National Park in late September 2010, I bought a Mapsource map of the North Central states and it even identified the Swiftcurrent Falls by name.
In hindsight, we were probably lucky that we even spotted (let alone recognized) this waterfall as there were no signs indicating its presence.
Plus, we had to do some scrambling to even get the views you see pictured above.
Swiftcurrent Falls and its dramatic backdrop
Nonetheless, Swiftcurrent Falls’ impressively high flow and multi-tiered cascade draining Swiftcurrent Lake combined with its scenic backdrop were what made it stand out in our minds.
The triangular peak of Mt Grinnell backing the Swiftcurrent Falls and Swiftcurrent Lake was one of the signature mountains of the Many Glacier area.
It kind of reminded me of how Mitre Peak towered over the Milford Sound in New Zealand.
Thus, it made for an excellent photo subject and I’d bet there would be numerous professional photographers who have utilized this waterfall for their own money shots.
Scrambling close to Swiftcurrent Falls
The way we got close to Swiftcurrent Falls was twofold.
On the one hand, we were able to park at a pullout (see directions below), then follow some of the scrambling trails closer to the Swiftcurrent Creek.
Another way we did it (and perhaps the more sanctioned way given how much wider the trails were) was to come in from the spur road leading to the Many Glacier Hotel.
There was a wide trail to the left of a private residence that briefly meandered through a small grove of trees before emerging in a more open area.
At this open area, we had the option of standing on a rock outcrop to look back towards the Swiftcurrent Falls backed by Mt Grinnell, or we could scramble down to a ledge below for a closer and more intimate view of the falls.
Either way, the overall walk should take no more than 15 minutes round trip from the Many Glacier Hotel.
Finally, as you can see from the photos on this page, if the weather is sunny, the best time of day to photograph this east-facing waterfall was in the morning.
By the afternoon, the sun would be against you.
There were also some upper tiers of Swiftcurrent Falls, but to get in front of those tiers, you’d have to cross the bridge over Swiftcurrent Creek (at the mouth of Swiftcurrent Lake).
Then, you’d have to scramble along some rock outcrops along the northern banks of Swiftcurrent Creek.
Swiftcurrent Falls resides in Glacier National Park near St Mary in Glacier County, Montana. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
We spotted Swiftcurrent Falls at a roadside pullout roughly 11.3 miles (over 20 minutes drive) west of the turnoff for the Many Glacier Road along the US89 just south of Babb.
It was a short distance before the turnoff (on the left) for Many Glacier Hotel.
We were also able to hike to the falls after parking the car at the Many Glacier Hotel, which was towards the end of the aforementioned spur road (roughly a half-mile further than the aforementioned pullout).
We have to warn you that Many Glacier Road was pretty rough with potholes and hastily patched sections of water damage, which further reinforced our suspicion that Glacier National Park was really hurting for funds to keep up with maintenance.
For context, Babb is about 8.5 miles (over 10 minutes drive) north of St Mary and a little over 10 miles south of the US-Canada border on Hwy 89.
For additional context, Babb was 209 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Helena. Across the US-Canada border, Babb was 38 miles (an hour drive; not counting border delays) southeast of Waterton and 171 miles (under 3 hours) south of Calgary.
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