Cut Bank Area
Cut Bank Area, Glacier National Park
Cut Bank Area
Location: Located on the east side of Glacier National Park between East Glacier Montana and St. Mary Montana, at the end of a 5 mile long gravel road off Highway 89.
The Cut Bank Area of Glacier National Park provides not only a primitive campground (Cut Bank Campground), but also is the trailhead to several high quality Glacier National Park hikes, such as Triple Divide Pass, Medicine Grizzly Lake and Morning Star Lake. This is also the entrance point to several overnight backpacking adventures. The Cut Bank Area in Glacier National Park is not only extremely beautiful, but is also a place that is "less traveled" and is a wonderful area of Glacier Park to explore and enjoy.
Where is the Cut Bank Area?
The Cut Bank Area of Glacier National Park is located between St. Mary Montana and East Glacier Montana, at the end of a 5 mile long dirt road. Highway 89 is the road taken either from St. Mary or East Glacier, and there is a easily seen sign showing you the way. This junction is immediately south of the bridge that crosses Cut Bank Creek. You can't miss it.
This gravel road is well maintained, so most cars can easily make this drive. The trick is to DRIVE SLOW so you don't rattle your car apart. The drive is quite scenic as this dirt road takes you into the Cut Bank Valley, closer and closer toward the mountains to the west. Just take your time and enjoy the view. (By the way, the National Park Service does not recommend taking RVs and trailers on this road.) The mountains that you are seeing to the west along this gravel road are the mountains you will be hiking into.
Cut Bank Ranger Station
You'll know you're getting close when you reach the Glacier Park boundary. Very soon after this you will drive past the Cut Bank Ranger Station, and right after that you'll reach the Cut Bank trailhead parking area and the Cut Bank campground. The vast meadow to the west of the traihead parking area is where the trail takes you into this incredible area. During the right time of the summer, this meadow is literally covered in wildflowers and is absolutely breathtaking.
Cut Bank Campground
The Cut Bank Campground is a primitive campground with no running water, so make sure you bring your own water or a water filtering system that you can use on Cut Bank Creek to filter fresh water. The creek is located quite a ways below the campground and is not easy to get to, so please keep this in mind. There is a pit toilet and bear proof garbage cans. People who like to get away from the crowds gravitate to this campground. The Cut Bank area is definitely less visited than most other places in the park, which gives this area a special flavor and feeling. You'll notice that the campground is usually very quiet because folks who are camping here are camping here for a reason- for some peace and quiet.
The Cut Bank campground only has 14 campsites, and occasionally will fill up before evening- especially on the weekends. Most of the time throughout the weekdays we've rarely seen this campground fill, however in the past few years this campground seems to be busier, so don't assume there will be a spot waiting for you if you get there later in the day. For more details about the Cut Bank campground, click here.
The Cut Bank Area Trailhead
The trailhead parking area is located just before you reach the campground, and there is usually a parking space available. The tall mountain to the southwest that dominates the skyline is Bad Marriage Mountain. This trailhead is officially called the Pitamakan Pass Trail Trailhead, and is the gateway to the scenic and remote Cut Bank Area, but we simply call it the Cut Bank Trailhead. This important trailhead takes you to several wonderful places, such as Triple Divide Pass, Morning Star Lake and Medicine Grizzly Lake. The Cut Bank trailhead also is the starting point (or finishing point) for two major overnight Glacier Park hikes. One of these hikes is the hike to the Two Medicine Area (16.9 miles) and the other is the hike to St. Mary (23.2 miles). Some overnighters start here, and some end here, depending on the availability of their backcountry campsites.
We really, really like the Cut Bank Area. The hikes in this "less traveled" section of Glacier National Park are extremely scenic and well worth the effort. We are always very pleased with the time we spend in this special area. And even though these hikes are not in our "top ten list" of favorite Glacier Park hikes, they should be. The Cut Bank Area provides access to outstanding Glacier Park hikes that you will truly enjoy.
Overnight Backpacking Hikes:
Cut Bank Trailhead to Red Eagle Trailhead via Triple Divide Pass
Cut Bank Trailhead to Two Medicine Campground via Pitamakan Pass
You will hike through this field of flowers on your way to the Cut Bank Area backcountry. Whether it be day hikes or overnight backpacking hikes, this area truly provides visitors with remarkable Glacier Park hikes that will be enjoyed by anyone wanting to try them. And if you're not interested in hiking, the Cut Bank campground is a great place to relax in a peaceful, beautiful place.