Mandalapa's Excursions

Travel experiences, itineraries, tips, rants and more!

Currently in: New York | Miles traveled: 450,000 miles | Countries Visited: 27

Polebridge – The magical town

Polebridge, Montana is a tiny village on the northwest edge of glacier national park near Flathead country close to the Canadian border. It has an entrance to glacier national park but this village is barely accessible with a gravel road and the nearest town with electricity (Columbia falls) being 35 miles away. The road connecting Columbia falls to Polebridge is made of gravel and is a pretty sweet drive if you have a rental car and go nuts with the gravel road. The population of the town was just 26 and it has one store called the Polbridge mercantile and a hostel named North Fork Hostel. I stayed in north fork hostel for 4 days and explored glacier park from there. Glacier park is home of wolves, elk, black and grizzly bears, eagles, mountain lions, deer and moose. It is one of the most protected natural ecosystems in the bottom 48 states.

town of polebridge, montana with less than 30 residents

Town of polebridge, montana with less than 30 residents

I rented a car from Spokane and drove for 6 hours to get to Columbia falls and another hour to drive to Polebridge on the dirt road. The drive was simply stunning and probably one of the 10 best drives I have driven so far.

Sunset in polebridge

Sunset at Polebridge, Montana – Locals in Polebridge living in a old school van.

I highly recommend that you go out of your way to stay here without electricity, no cell phone coverage, dance around the campfire with locals and explore a side of glacier park which is not frequented by tourists at all. While you are there, definitely take the north fork road which is another gravel road used for logging in the summer. If you have a rental car or a 4×4, burn some rubber on this road and there are a bunch of campgrounds on this road which are a lot more secluded and have pretty scenic views.

North fork road connecting polebridge and apgar visitor center

North fork road connecting polebridge and apgar visitor center

If you are staying in North Fork Hostel in polebridge, definitely ask for all the help you need from Oliver who owns the hostel. He is a nice guy in his late 40’s always trying to help you plan the day, give you tips on hikes, secret lookout spots and stuff.

Map of Polebridge Montana

The pastries and baked good in polebridge mercentile are pretty delicious. Not sure if this is a rumor, but I heard a lot of people from Europe come here to this store to get their baked goods. My mornings always started there with scones, bagels and other baked goodies. While you are there, see if Maggie works. She is pretty amazing and friendly as well. One night, they had a huge campfire and I hung out with her and her family. I met some nice people that night and went hiking with them the next day. Making friends while traveling is really important if you are hiking by yourself.

Polebridge mercantile, Polebridge, Montana

Polebridge mercantile general store, Polebridge, Montana

One of the nights, Oliver at the hostel made dinner for all of us and we had campfire by the cabins, drank some local brews and chilled out by the fire with my new friend Scott. It doesn’t get any better than this. These are the moments you live for.

Use polebridge as a basecamp and explore glacier park from here. Bowman lake and Kintla lakes are pretty close from polebridge. Hike up the 8 mile Bowman lake lookout and enjoy some good scenery from the base of both the lakes. I have seen some people camp out there as well.

Scenic view from Bowman lake

Scenic view from Bowman lake, just 4 miles from polebridge

Keep in mind that the nearest place with electricity and cell phone coverage is at least 35 miles away, so make sure your camera is fully charged. If there ever is an apocalypse, there is no better place in the world to be than this magical town in Montana.

Have you been to polebridge before? Want to share your experiences with me? Please leave a comment or two and I will be more than happy to respond.


  1. Gabriel

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