Post Summary: How To Experience Sunrise at Lake Josephine in Glacier National Park
Sunrise at Lake Josephine is probably our favorite place to enjoy a sunrise, ever.
We know that’s a big deal to say, but this place means a lot to us! Seeing it for the first time on our honeymoon, every time we return it brings back sweet memories of our first few days together!
We think that watching the sunrise at Lake Josephine should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Glacier, so we’re sharing our tips for your own trip to this amazing lake.
So pack your swimsuit (or hiking poles!) and let’s get started!
Everything You Need To Know To Enjoy Sunrise at Lake Josephine
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What’s so great about Lake Josephine? Here are some fun facts about this gorgeous lake in Glacier National Park:
- It’s immediately southwest to Swiftcurrent Lake, and both lakes are connected by a small stream.
- Lake Josephine is officially listed as a backcountry lake despite its close proximity to general amenities. This is because you can not access it by vehicle – it’s hike-in/boat-in only!
- It’s a 1.2-mile hike (3.4 miles out-and-back) from the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead, but you can shave that down to 0.2 miles by taking Glacier’s iconic charter boats across the lake from the Many Glacier Hotel.
How To Get To Lake Josephine
Lake Josephine is located in the Many Glacier Area of Glacier National Park. This is the Northeast section of the park, with the closest town being St Mary, Montana.
Once in the Many Glacier area, the easiest and most direct route to Lake Josephine is from the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead (Coordinates: 48.7969827, -113.6685409). (If you go directly to the west from the trailhead, you’ll reach the smaller Fishercap Lake!)
To reach the shores of Lake Josephine, start your journey on the Grinnell Glacier trail and walk one mile. This will take you alongside Swiftcurrent Lake.
Once you reach a T in the trail, continue south (opposite of the Swiftcurrent boat dock) and walk a couple of hundred yards. You’ve arrived!
Lake Josephine is a common place for hikers to take a second and enjoy the view, but for this blog post, it will be the END of our hike!
See our trail route below!
Best Time To Visit Lake Josephine (Sunrise at Lake Josephine)
So, when is the best time to visit Lake Josephine? Obviously sunrise, but there’s more to it than that.
The Many Glacier areas of Glacier National Park is only open for a short period of time, during the summer months of June – October.
If you visit Lake Josephine in June, you’re going to have to wake up extremely early for sunrise (around 5:30 am).
This will almost ensure that no one will be there when you visit, but you’ll have to have the self-discipline to wake yourself up this early.
On our last trip, we visited in early September, which meant we got to visit Lake Josephine during sunrise at a manageable 7:00 am!
Here’s what it looks like about 2o minutes before the sun rose. Quiet and calm!
Lake Josephine Caution (Bears!)
In this area of Glacier National Park (Many Glacier Area), it is extremely common to encounter a bear while on the trail.
This is why it’s very important to carry bear spray with you (and honestly all other parts of Glacier, too!) and know how to use it.
It’s also important to make lots of noise (yes, even if it’s morning!) because bears frequent the area around the lake. By being loud, you have a higher chance of scaring them off before you can even encounter each other.
Awesome Things To Do at Lake Josephine
Take a Dip!
The swim may be cold, but it’s kind of fun to jump in such a picturesque lake! Not only is it exciting, jumping in cold lakes actually has great health benefits too. It’s a win in our book!
The best way to enter the water at Lake Josephine is on the north shore. There is a sandy (rocky), beach where you can take your plunge! *Please note that the boat dock on Lake Josephine is private property. Please stay off!
Just make sure to have a cozy blanket (like this one) and a quick-dry towel (our fave is from Nomadix Co)
Want To Jump In More Glacier Lakes? Consider Taking a Visit to Bowman Lake During Sunrise, or cool off in St. Mary on a sunny trip at Sun Point Nature Trail!
One of the most memorable mornings on our one-week itinerary in Glacier National Park was watching the sunrise at Lake Josephine.
We brought our jetboil, instant coffee, and some quick oats to see the sun slowly appear on the tips of the mountain tops.
Is your coffee too hot? No problem – you can quickly cool it off in the glacier lake at your feet – that’s what we did in the picture below!
Want more easy camping breakfast recipes? Read our post on easy camping meals here!
It’s no shocker here that Lake Josephine is drop-dead gorgeous. We spent the better part of the morning shooting photos and capturing the colors of the sunrise on the mountain peaks in the distance.
One of the most iconic perspectives of Lake Josephine in Montana is Angel Wing peak in the center-ish of the lake. It’s one the first of the surrounding mountains to receive the morning light, and turns beautiful colors!
To make your morning interesting, try bringing props like headlamps, dresses, or just a brave soul that will jump into the freezing water!
Relax At The Shores of Lake Josephine
Coming to the mountains should be relaxing, right?
Between taking photos and eating breakfast, we spent plenty of time sitting around listening to the quiet morning unfold before us.
It’s really rewarding waking up early in beautiful places like Glacier National Park. We definitely encourage you to spend some time relaxing, whether it’s at an alpine escape like Lake Josephine, or simply the deck at the room in your lodge.
There’s no wrong way to relax during your Glacier National Park itinerary!
Want To Keep Exploring The Area?
Lake Josephine is just one of many beautiful stops in the Many Glacier Area. Nearby is another Glacier hike to the incredible Iceberg Lake!
One other famous hike nearby is the Grinnell Glacier Trail. To reach it, go back up the short path that leads to the shore. From there, continue walking along the trail on the right side of the lake.
*It’s important to note that Grinnell Glacier trail is nearly 15 miles in total. Make sure to do your research and come prepared if you plan to hike all the way to the end!
You can also opt to take Piegan Pass Trail, which is a similar distance as Grinnell from Lake Josephine. It too is an all-day hike so come prepared!