Northern Idaho Road Trip

Old Jan 28th, 2014, 03:58 PM
  #1  
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Northern Idaho Road Trip

Hi...My family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids, aged 15, 13, and 11) are traveling to Spirit Lake Idaho for a week at a lake house the first week of July. I would like to add some other Northwestern travels to our agenda on the front end of our trip. Perhaps an additional 4-5 days in either Seattle or Glacier National Park.

If we fly into Seattle we see some of the sights there (including perhaps, Bainbridge or Whidbey Islands or San Juan Islands) for a few days and then drive the five hours to Spirit Lake. Question: What are some recommended sights to see with teenage kid? Also, is there anything to see or a specific scenic route you can recommend from Seattle to Spirit Lake (basically near Coeur d Alane)?

If we go into Glacier Natl Park my questions are...where would we fly into if we want to start at the east side of the park and drive west? What are my chances of driving the entire Going to the Sun Road? Suggestions for Lodging? Any other must see sights if we were to be in the area for 3-5 days prior to going to Coeur d Alane? Not sure if the last week of June is very ideal for Glacier which makes me wonder if Seattle would be better.

Would love some feedback on these two alternatives or any others you might suggest...
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Old Jan 28th, 2014, 05:11 PM
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If you go for Glacier (which I would) fly into Spokane. Spend a few hours in the city. Get on the Amtrak Empire Builder at about midnight. Take the train overnight to Whitefish Montana. It arrives before 9AM. Get breakfast and then rent your car.
Before June 24 it could be risky about getting over the Going to the Sun highway. It depends on how much snow falls this winter. The east side from St. Mary to Logan Pass usually opens a few days earlier than the route from McDonald Lake.
If the GTTS highway is still closed, you can drive US 2 to get to East Glacier.
A few miles south of St. Mary on US 89, I encountered wild horses licking salt on the highway on June 1 2012.
That day I drove up 17 miles from St. Mary on the GTTS road before I came to the closed gate.
The nicest place that I know of in the area is the Meadow Lake Resort in the outskirts of Columbia Falls Montana.
If you want to keep your rental car for the trip to Spirit Lake that would work or you could take the train back to Spokane and rent one there.
The nicest hotel in Spokane is the Davenport IMO.
Seattle has it's own attractions that I will let others debate.
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Old Jan 28th, 2014, 05:21 PM
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Agree with tomfuller about Spokane. It is a very convenient airport, easy to get in/out of, the car rental is right there. Seattle, while an older airport, is hugely busy and in the middle of a bunch of traffic. The car rental center has been moved off site, requiring a bus ride. Overall, it tends to take about an hour longer to wrap up the airport, car rental, and escape from gridlock in Seattle than we've had at Spokane.

For Spokane, we've always stayed right at the airport, either upon arriving late or the night before leaving. There are a number of close hotels, but the Ramada is right across the street and fine to walk across to; it's our favorite.
sludick is offline  
Old Jan 28th, 2014, 09:01 PM
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Thanks for your replies. If we choose to do Glacier instead of Seattle, what are the major sights we should see and how long do you suggest to allocate for the trip through Glacier?
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Old Jan 29th, 2014, 05:44 AM
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@tomfuller any specific recommendations you have regarding Glacier sights or activities would be much appreciated...
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Old Jan 29th, 2014, 07:06 AM
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I've been to Glacier twice. Both times I was there when at least part of the GTTS road was closed. The first time we drove up from Columbia Falls to McDonald Lake in November 2005. The road was gated next to the parking lot of the lodge. I did take a picture of the lake and mountains from a spot close to where Ansel Adams took a famous picture. I did see a couple elk that day.
On June 1 2012, we came to the east side from Cut Bank through St. Mary and up 17 miles which was within 2 miles of the top of Logan Pass.
Both sides of the park and Two Medicine Lake have great scenery without having to hike too far from the car.
In mid June, the bears will be out and hungry.
In Browning, there is a museum of the Plains Indians that is good for a 1 to 2 hour visit.
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Old Feb 25th, 2014, 08:31 AM
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Glacier National Park is famous for its jagged snow-capped peaks, glacier-carved valleys, serene lakes, rushing rivers, and abundant wildlife.
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Old Feb 26th, 2014, 08:55 AM
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Glacier is a hiking park and is most famous for it's over 700 miles of hiking trails from beginner to expert
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