Glacier National Park trip ideas


Jun 27th, 2014, 07:05 AM
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Glacier National Park trip ideas

My husband and I areplanning a week trip to Glacier NP in August.. Thinking of flying into Kalispell, renting a car. Need advice on whether Kalispell is a good place to stay for the whole time and just day trip out to sights each day. It looks like most lodging in parks is booked. We would like to go into Canada to Waterton. We are mid 50s couple, like to hike trails - not rugged though - not campers. Any ideas will be helpful.
funtravlr is offline  
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Jun 27th, 2014, 07:32 AM
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My DW and I spent a couple nights at the Meadow Lake Resort for our 30th anniversary. The resort/golf resort is near Columbia Falls. We had a nice condo but the other lodging there is very nice as well.
We arrived in Whitefish on the Empire Builder and the Meadow Lake van picked us and another couple up from the train station.
Our rental car was delivered from the Kalispell airport. We did have to take the driver back to the airport and sign the rental.
Drive all the way over the GTTS road. Take your hikes from Logan Pass and maybe some other trail off the Going to the Sun road.
The Canadian Rockies are no more beautiful than Glacier IMO.
On the 30th anniversary trip we spent several days in the Jasper area before seeing Vancouver and Seattle and boarding the Empire Builder to Whitefish.
How many days will you spend in NW Montana?
tomfuller is online now  
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Jun 27th, 2014, 08:47 AM
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Don't stay on the west side.

The Many Glacier area has the best scenery, hikes and wildlife. You are probably very late but may get cancellations at Many Glacier Hotel or Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.

If you can't then try for Rising Sun on the east side of Going to the Sun Road.
Otherwise you can try for just outside the park in Babb or St Mary.

The west side is hours away from the scenery and wildlife.

We spent most of one on the west side and other than one "ok" hike it was a waste of time. The MacDonald Falls don't even give you a decent view.

You can easily occupy your self well with 2 days in Many Glacier and 2 days from Logan Pass going east.

The scenery along the GTTS Rd are not all that great. OK but that's about it.

Last year, after a week in Glacier I spent 2 1/2 very well planned days in Banff and Jasper.

I'm going back with my daughter early August this year. Banff and Jasper has more roadside scenery than Glacier but Glacier has some spectacular hiking scenery. Specifically Iceberg Lake and Grinnell Glacier in Many Glacier and Hidden Lake Overlook and the start of the Highline hikes at Logan Pass.

Wildlife central if Fishercap Lake about a 15 minute walk from the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking lot. Get there between one and two hours before sunset and you're sure to see moose and deer there.

Many people discount Calgary because it's in Canada. It's a real airport and about 3 1/2 hours from Many Glacier. Also, there's a Walmart Supercenter just outside the airport.

I've use Calgary Airport twice and a third time coming up.

Also, there's a very nice Delta Hotel in the airport across the street from the terminal. I return the car the evening before the flight and don't have to worry about it in the morning. Walk out the door and into the terminal. In winter you can use the 2nd floor indoor walkway.

Calgary is less than 1 1/2 hours from Banff townsite.

If you want to consider what I've suggest I can give you more ideas.

You can see photos of my trips to Glacier at:
Myer is offline  
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Jun 27th, 2014, 10:06 AM
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Just make sure you have permission on your rental car papers to go into Canada.

Gorgeous there that time of year but not empty. I would second myer about trying to stay on the east side.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 10:36 AM
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We, too, are a mid-50's couple and found that we had more than enough to see and do for a week at GNP without making that long drive to Waterton, so you might want to consider just staying around GNP. Also, I concur with those that recommend spending time on the west side of the park. We spent 3 nights on the east side and 4 nights on the west side. Finally, another place to look for accommodations is VRBO. We found great places both in East Glacier and West Glacier using VRBO.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 11:11 AM
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What time of day does your flight get into Kalispell? If it is late, you might want to stay 1 night at Meadow Lake and then drive over the GTTS starting in the morning "going to the sun".
You may still see some snow near the parking lot at the top of Logan Pass.
Our trip to the east side of Glacier just a couple years ago involved getting off the westbound Empire Builder on May 31 in Cut Bank MT and driving off in the rental car left in the parking lot by the local GM dealer. We had an evening meal before we went to the motel in the east end of town.
The next morning we ate breakfast at the same diner.
We left from there and went to St. Mary. We had a minor delay getting past a herd of horses on US 89 licking salt on the highway. On that June 1 we drove up 17 miles from St. Mary until we came to the closed gate a couple of miles from the top of Logan Pass.
From our turn around, we went by way of Two Medicine into East Glacier. From there we went over the Marias Pass on US 2 to the famous Isaac Walton Lodge.
On the way back to Cut Bank we stopped at the museum of the Plains Indian in Browning. We stopped at McD's in Cut Bank before leaving the rental car where we found it about 6PM.
The Empire Builder was about 20 minutes late into Cut Bank but we were early into Spokane (3 AM June 2). We were back to Bend in time for lunch.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 07:52 PM
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Be aware that Amtrak is advising passengers that the Empire Builder in both directions for the foreseeable future can be anywhere from 5 to 10
hours LATE due to heavy freight traffic from the oil fields in North Dakota.
John is online now  
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Jun 27th, 2014, 08:37 PM
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I completely agree with what has been said about Many Glaciers. The beauty of the area lingers in my mind and it is so very close to Waterton--another wonderful place. Enjoy.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
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Jun 28th, 2014, 07:49 PM
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well, now I am looking at East side of GNP per the above suggestions. Any suggestions on places to stay in August. Having no luck. May have to wait a year.
funtravlr is offline  
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Jun 29th, 2014, 05:48 AM
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The pattern for national parks is that people book lodging a year in advance. They do it when they have no idea if they can take the trip.

In the last month or so reality sets in and they start to cancel. For August I would start calling (not online) a couple of times a day. When a cancellation occurs you want to make sure you get it.

There are some places just outside the park in St Mary and East Glacier. For sure Rising Sun on GTTS Rd and Many Glacier Hotel and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in Many Glacier are preferable.
Myer is offline  
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Jul 2nd, 2014, 06:42 AM
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There are to do in both part, but effectively more in the east part..;
In the west part :
- driving to Bowman lake and upon your ability to hike, Akokala lake or Quartz lake Loop are must do hikes(you can swim in Quartz lake but also in Bowman Lk).
- Rafting is a must in Apgar and there are some organisations to do that.
- if you are interested by some high chalet and good hikers you can do Sperry chalet and then to Sperry Glaclier from Lk Mc Donald trailhead and back in the same day(early start).

From west to east part, Going to the sun road allows a lot of stops, with some short hikes(notably avalanche lake and trail of the cedars).
Try to drive early to find some places to park...

At Logan Pass, you have to be patient to find some place for the car and the highliçne trail is nice.

- in the west part, there are 2-3 highly recommended sections

# Two medecine and here, the hike to do is Cocbalt lake, moderately difficult and with high chance to see mooses, then falls and a nice alpine lake. Flora is superb.
Twin falls and upper two medecine lake are easier but with heavy traffic.

# On the west part of GTTSR, Syeh pass and Pitakaman pass worth the miles with chance to see bears,Preston park at mid-trail is one of our favorite place(floras, moutains, animals)
Gunsight lake with Florence falls at half trail, chance to see mooses+++.

-# and Finally as written by Myer, Many Glacier is certainly the nicest section of the park.
Hikes to do : Apikunni falls(short but steep), Cracker lake-one of our favorite with a subalpine lake in an extraordinary site,
Iceberg lake but heavy traffic+++
Grinnel Glacier with some delicate portions but not so difficult if you have all your attention
and for us one of the nicest, is hiking to Swiftcurrent pass and in this trail, high chance of wildlife(bears, mooses, elk)and 3 lakes(fishcap man, red rock, bullhead)

Having a room in the park will be difficult for August but you can try day by day.

In the west part, 2 nights are enough and there are some motels not so far from park's gate.(the glacier highland resort could be an option :406 888 5427 )-their restaurant have some of the best berries pies we know and also a delicious trout.

Near East Glacier, the traveller rest is good, but railways is not far(but it's the rule here so, earplugs..)4062269143

For many Glacier there are some B&b or resort with part of cabins,..but I think you have to try every day.
There is an holiday inn in Browning but I don't know on the reviews.
Montana Duck's lake lodge is another option.
monpetit is offline  
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Jul 3rd, 2014, 11:03 AM
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If you want the true Glacier experience, you really should try to stay on the east side.

When we were there last year just before Memorial Day weekend, my brother-in-law who decided to hook up with us on a last minute trip, was able to get a room at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn due to late cancellations - so keep trying! And as stated above, call everyday - don't check online.

When we haven't been able to get reservations in the Many Glacier /St. Mary area, we've stayed in the town of East Glacier near the Two Medicine area of the park. There's about a dozen mom & pop type motels and we found Jacobson's to be clean and the owners are very nice. It's about an hour's drive from the Many Glacier area, but if you take Highway 2 up through Browning and then onto 464 it's actually faster than going up 49 and 89 since those roads are quite curvy. It's much closer than staying on the west side and if you like Mexican food, East Glacier has a great Mexican Restaurant called Serranos.

For some easier hikes, I would recommend Redrock Falls which starts from the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking lot. Hike it early in the morning and stop at Fishercap Lake just off the trail where you can usually find moose early in the morning. St. Mary Falls/Virginia Falls are two fairly easy waterfalls to get to just off the Going to the Sun Road. Swiftcurrent nature trail starts at the Many Glacier hotel and takes you around the entire lake where you'll have awesome views of the Many Glacier Hotel.

Hidden Lake Overlook, while considered an easy hike, starts out on a paved trail, then boardwalk, which turns into lots of steps - which can be hard on the knees, especially coming down, if you have any knee issues at all.

The Highline Trail allows you to go out as far as you like and then turn around whenever you want to cut the trail short. You'll have spectacular scenery. If you have any fear of heights, however, there is a 3/10 mile section called "the ledge" which can be a little scary. It's fairly early in the hike so you can figure out early if it's something you want to tackle.

For some good information on hikes in Glacier, this is a good reference. It categorizes the trails by location in the park and difficulty level to help you decide what works best for your skill level.
wave725 is offline  
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Jul 3rd, 2014, 07:15 PM
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As Wave725 stated. Those stair on the Hidden Lake Overlook hike can be hard on the knees. YES!!!
Myer is offline  
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Jul 3rd, 2014, 07:40 PM
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Not to worry on the stairs. They are covered in snow and probably will be for a few weeks. GTTS Road opened last night. For a short video of the snow cleared walkways at Logan Pass visitor:
John is online now  
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Jul 3rd, 2014, 11:32 PM
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I've written too fast..
Syeh and Pitakaman trail head are on the east side of GTTSR, # 5 miles/Logan Pass
and evidently, Two medecine, Many Glacier are on the east part...
Two other easy hikes on this part beginn at Cut Bank, on eto medecine grizzly lake, the other to Morning star lake.
For the first, frequent goats on the slopes,
on the second, nice bears habitat.
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