Glacier National Park Questions

Nov 22nd, 2009, 01:15 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
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Glacier National Park Questions

Lodging is already decided for this trip. Will be arriving Thursday Evening July 22 and departing morning Tues Morning July 27. This give us four full days. This would be myself, wife, and 16 year old daughter. Daughter and I are strong hikers and adventurous. Wife will sometimes go the extra mile. But, she isn't liking the idea of longer hikes at high altitudes, so she might settle for spa treatment at Belton Chalet the day we do a long hike. She is undecided at this point.

Thursday 8:00 evening arrival -overnight in Lake McDonald Lodge(2 nights)
Is this about an hour from the airport? Hope to be at lodge by 10:00pm

Friday- Going to the Sun Road-in our car
Lunch @ Rising Sun or St Mary area
would I have time to also do St Mary Lake Boat tour with hike to Barring Falls?
what do you think about a 2:00pm tour for this? I could head back and do a
boat tour at Lake McDonald instead.
Is this 1.5 or 3.5 hours to do the boat and hike to the falls at St Mary?
probably have dinner back at Lake McDonald??

Sat 9:00 Ranger-led Highline Trail hike (8hr)
will leave car at trailhead or take shuttle
(wife may drop us off and pick us up)
overnight in Many Glacier
Dinner in Many Glacier Lodge

Sun 7:00 AM 2hr ranger led hike(bird hike- not sure what this is)
11:30 Red Bus Tour to Waterton- Afternoon Tea In Prince of Wales(5hrs)
Drive to and see sites @ Two Medicine Area- see Trick Falls
Overnight in Glacier Park Lodge
What about the swimming pool here? is it heated or what?

Mon See Goat Lick area
Breakfast in Walton Inn
10:00 Helicopter tour of Glacier
Afternoon- 1/2 day rafting or alpine slide/zipline @ Whitefish Resort
don't think I would have time for both??? looks like both are about 4 hours
Dinner in Belton Lodge or West Glacier area?
will overnight probably at La Quinta Inn near, not far from airport

7:30 Departure

I could change things up and do either Grinnel Glacier Hike or Iceberg Lake Hike. Would prefer to do these in a ranger led group. I am just a little afraid of hiking with bears. There would be 2 or 3 people on this hike. It's my understanding that the rangerled Iceberg lake hike is cancelled a lot due to bears. So, which hike do I want to do? I am leaning towards Highline, but might could be swayed towards Grinnel or Iceberg, they all look very good. we have a swimming pool, so that isn't that big of a deal, but it's not very often that the park lodges have a swimming pool. Anyone have any thoughts on the pool at Glacier Park Lodge??

Would want to make absolute certain that I am on the ranger led hikes, so how much time do I need to allow being there before the hike actually begins? Are these normally full?
spirobulldog is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2009, 03:43 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Think you are underestimating the time required for Going to the Sun Road; we drove east-west starting at St Mary's at around 9 am and only had lunch at Lake MacD Lodge around 2p with several short stops and not a long walk at Logan Pass; do not plan on a r/t trip via GTSR, do a hike or ride at St. Marys or Many Glacier and take Rt 2 home. There are unforeseen construction delays (we spent a pleasant 30 min. as lead car west of Logan Pass); driving west-east puts the sun in your view too. Be sure to take the lovely Going to the Cedars short hike at western end. We stayed at Many Glacier and were advised by friend from Whitefish not to r/t the route. When we drove it, we were relieved not to have to take it twice, esp. in the same day. We were lazy and didnt hike much, Lake MacD boatride was nice, also took shorter one from Many on Grinnell and linked to another lake, lasting an hour, which was plenty. Bring bear bells, only saw few grizzlies in distance and another by lakeside Grinnell on lake loop trail.
aliced is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2009, 03:58 PM
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Very much suggest taking the Red Bus for Going to the Sun. That way you can enjoy the scenery rather than worrying about scraping the side of the mountain or the guardrail. We drive everywhere but taking the bus that day was a GREAT decision. Going with guide on Highline trail is also good idea. It is quite a trail.
You do not go to Many Glacier lodge for the food, but it is worth it for the great scenery. That is where we saw our only bear. The rooms are also simple, but the porch is a lovely place to sit in the sun.
I would also recommend the rafting. The scenery was used in many movies and the rapids are fun
Going to the Cedars with Avalanch Lake is an excellent, not too long hike.
I can't remember the chain motel we stayed in the last night to be near the airport but it is the one near the large, main road and intersection, shopping center that had, I think, Costco. Very nice, very clean, very cheap, and breakfast (the free one) ready at 6am which worked for our early flight.
You will LOVE Glacier.
Elainee is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2009, 04:13 PM
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The red bus tours were cool, we couldnt take them as we were leaving the park en route toward Whitefish; but the tour only picks up at certain times/location, so all the more reason to allow more time for this trip. Plan on the whole day really to enjoy your constant stops, each worthwhile! The town of Columbia Falls is just west of West Glacier and has loads of amenities, Elainee.
aliced is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2009, 04:44 PM
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How often and how many places does the bus tour stop? I like to stop where and for the length of time I desire. I have allowed for our first day to be devoted entirely the GTSR, however, if I can work a boat tour in, that would be great as well. The park is a two hour time difference from where we live and we are morning people. I am sure we will be at 6 and in the car by 7AM at the latest. I do want to do a Red Bus Tour (did a yellow one in Yellowstone), so that is the reason for the bus tour to Waterton. Having a good meal at the lodges is nice but isn't our primary goal. I am still contemplating how to do the going to sun road, so I may end up doing a Red Bus Tour. I booked my rooms a couple of months ago, so that is the order it is going to be in(I have beds, rooms views that I wanted). Generally speaking, we see things almost twice as fast as most people do. We do stop and smell the roses, but perhaps just not as long as other folks.
spirobulldog is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2009, 05:16 PM
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We've done GTS road MANY times round trip. Once isn't enough and you get a very different view going in the opposite direction. The road around the south end is totally unremarkable--about like any road through any forest in the country.

You can take a fairly short hike to St Mary Falls from the road. It goes past a shorter but really pretty fall, Virginia Falls, before you get to St Mary Falls.

If you have severe fear of heights, Highline Trail is going to be hard. For a little way, you are on the EDGE of a rock cliff. If you can get past that, it is worth it. There is a handy hand rail. Do a Google search for it and then click on "Images". There is also a You Tube video of it.
Connie is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2009, 06:20 PM
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heights really don't bother us much. here is a link from our Oregon trip in July. Myself, daughter, and two guides.

I always look at youtube before any of my hikes. The bears do scare me a little.
spirobulldog is offline  
Nov 24th, 2009, 06:29 PM
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Might suggest instead of taking the ranger led hike Friday on the Highline Trail you do it "on your own" and continue about an hour beyond the Granite Park Chalet to Swiftcurrent Pass, continue down the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail (all downhill from the pass)which comes out behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge about a mile from your hotel. Since you already have lodging in Many Glacier Hotel your set for the night. It's a moderate hike with almost guarantee of seeing mountain goats and scenery you will talk about in years to come. There are some exposed areas where the park service has put up cables to help around those areas. Start early and take your time. Many people take this trail so you will have company. If during the hike you don't feel like you can make it into Many Glacier instead of backtracking you can take The Loop Trail (about 4 miles mostly downhill)from Granite Park Chalet back down to the Going to the Sun Rd and from there the free shuttle back to Logan Pass. When you get to Many Glacier you can take the pay shuttle the next day back to Logan Pass to get your car and still make your 11:30 Red Bus tour if you catch the first shuttle. Don't forget everyone needs a passport to visit Canada.

If you want to take a boat ride and ranger led hike you could go across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine and then climb the Grinnell Glacier trail. Will see one of the few remaining glaciers in the park and look down on aquamarine Grinnell Lake.

I would not let the fact there might be bears on the trail deter you from taking it. I was walking solo in Many Glacier heading towards Iceberg Lake when a griz crossed the trail right after a ranger led group had passed. The group never saw the bear, so you never know if or when they might appear. You don't need bearbells - they are not loud enough to do any good and don't whistle some rangers say it mimicks some birds. Try clapping or just holding a conversation or saying hey bear every once in awhile. In my opinion I would not bother with carrying bear spray. Unless you have it in your hand any encounter maybe over before you can get it off your belt or out of your pack. The wind is usually blowing and there is a good chance it will cover you and not the bear. You can't transport it on airplanes, it has an expiration date and how many other places will you visit that you would have a need for it? It is better to take proper precautions rather than rely on the spray. There is a joke in the park - how do you tell the difference between black bear scat and grizzly bear scat? The griz scat has bear bells in it and smells of pepper spray.
Photodog is offline  
Nov 25th, 2009, 08:19 AM
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Like Connie, I suggest you drive the GTTS Road both ways, rather than driving around the south side of the park. GTTS is different each time you drive it---I never tire of that drive. Goat Lick isn't all that special; you are far more likely to see goats at Logan Pass, both on the Highline Trail and the Hidden Lake Overlook trail. And they will be very close to you.

And I hope you can make time to do the Grinnell Glacier hike. Rangers lead this about 4 times a week. It starts with a boat ride across Swiftcurrent Lake, a short walk to the next lake, and another boat ride. You do need to get the boat tickets in advance, as the early boat sells out. This hike is, in my opinion, far more interesting and spectacular than Iceberg Lake. And the lake at the bottom of Grinnell Glacier has far more icebergs than Iceberg Lake, if that is what you are after.

If your wife didn't want to do the hike with you and your daughter, she could simply return to Many Glacier on the next boat.

As for the ranger-led hikes, I understand your feelings. While many, many people happily and safely hike all over Glacier on their own, some of us enjoy the hiking a lot more with the security factor of the ranger. Call it peace of mind.

We were charged by a grizzley in Denali many years ago, and I will never forget how quickly that magnificant animal could move, nor how terrified I was as it ran toward us. Fortunately, it was only a "bluff charge" and we were able to leave safely in our car. But I hope never to experience that again.

So our first trip to Glacier, we hiked only with the rangers. By the second trip, this past summer, we had enough confidence to go it alone (in a group of 3) a few times---talking the whole time, which is the recommended bear-avoidance tactic. But I still felt uneasy the whole time. Then we hiked up to Grinnell Glacier with the ranger again, and it was far more relaxing and enjoyable.

I thought the ranger hikes might be too slow or feel crowded, but that wasn't the case. The rangers hike at a pretty good pace, stopping now and then to give a mini-lecture on the geology, flora, fauna, etc., to let the slower walkers catch up. Most of the time you are walking in a small group of two or three, with the larger groups strung out all along the trail.
enzian is offline  
Nov 25th, 2009, 08:46 AM
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enzian, do you need to arrive super early to insure a spot in the ranger led hikes? Do they fill up often?
spirobulldog is offline  
Nov 25th, 2009, 09:02 AM
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In 2008, there was a sign-up for the Highline hike, and a limit. But this year, there was not---they take all who show up in time. They usually meet at 9:00 at the "Continental Divide" sign at Logan Pass. You might want to get there by 8:30 to get parked and have time for a quick visit to the restroom, etc.

It's the Grinnell Glacier hike that has a limit, but only because of the boat that connects to that hike.
enzian is offline  

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