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gem icon Ptarmigan Tunnel [Suggest Edits]

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Though a bit out of the way, the Ptarmigan Tunnel offers a look into Glacier's past. When the park first opened its gates at the turn of the 20th century, most visitors arrived by rail, and were transported to the parks famous lodges via horse or boat. The Ptarmigan Tunnel is a testament to that history that still stands today. Hewn from the rock beneath the Ptarmigan Wall, the tunnel allows the Ptarmigan Trail to pass through the mountain, bypassing some of the most difficult terrain on its way from Many Glacier to Cosley Lake.

The tunnel itself stands tall enough to allow horses through, though riders would have to dismount, and extends 240 feet through the mountain. The tunnel was constructed by the Civilian Conservations Corps in the 1930's, and allowed access to terrain that would have otherwise been inaccessible.

Today, the tunnel is closed by steel doors during the off season, but the tunnel usually opens in mid-July and remains open until October 1. Visitors today will enjoy the hike up to the tunnel and the incredible views that the vantage point affords. On the north side, unobstructed views of Elizabeth Lake greet visitors, and the cool waters and lush forests are especially inviting after passing through the rocky, rugged terrain leading up to the tunnel from the south. The trail and the tunnel are both remarkably well maintained, and visitors will marvel at the workmanship that went into constructing the tunnel, and the stone areas surrounding each portal. If you're up for the hike, this is a spot that you won't soon forget!

Half-Day Hike: A roughly 10-mile round-trip hike is required to reach the tunnel, and those with a fear of heights may find some of the last portion of the journey a bit harrowing.

Gem Type: Historic Site

Shared by:
Mikhaila Redovian
Clint Pederson
Kalispell, MT
Clint Pederson   Kalispell, MT
Great view all the way to Canada Dec 7, 2017

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Your Check-Ins


Sep 6, 2016
Katy Johnson
Saw grizzly near trailhead! Huckleberries galore mid-trail. Long switchbacks with steady incline.
Aug 23, 2016
Kristi Rowell
Jul 31, 2016
Mike V
Hard but well worth it hike. Spectacular views on both sides at the top!

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Shared by Mikhaila Redovian on Jun 16, 2016. All Page Views: 771. Last Month: 24.