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Old 02-15-2015, 06:52 PM   #1
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Glacier N.P. Advice

Making plans for a July trip to Glacier. Our first stop will be Butte Montana for the Folk Festival then about 5 -6 days in Glacier.
Any recommendations for campgrounds? We like to fish and hike. Also need to know if we can do Going to the Sun road with our 19?
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Barry
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Old 02-15-2015, 07:17 PM   #2
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From the Glacier NP website
Are there vehicle size restrictions on the Going-to-the-Sun Road?
Yes. To help reduce congestion, vehicle size restrictions are in effect. Vehicles, and vehicle combinations, longer than 21 feet (including bumpers) or wider than 8 feet (including mirrors), are prohibited between Avalanche Campground and the Rising Sun picnic area parking. Vehicle and vehicle combinations over 10 feet in height may have difficulty driving west from Logan Pass to the Loop, due to rock overhangs. Stock trucks and trailers are able to access Packers Roost on the west, and Siyeh Bend on the east.
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Old 02-15-2015, 08:32 PM   #3
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I guess I should have looked at the website before listening to my redneck brother in law "sure no problem - just go slow" !!
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:34 PM   #4
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Last year we camped on the East side, at the St. Mary Campground. The campground was decent, but I can tell you that there isn't much in the area by way of stores, fuel, restaurants, etc. Many Glacier, (also on the East side), is nice, with beautiful scenery and a historic hotel, but the road was terrible getting in to the area and again, no services - maybe the road has been repaired by now? If we were going to do it again, we would stay on the West side.
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:45 PM   #5
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Last fall we stayed at Apgar on the west side of Glacier. Many Glacier was closed. A nice place, and there are a couple of small stores near by. But at least in the loops that were open, there weren't any hookups. I know the road to Many Glacier is rough, but if I were to go back to Glacier, that is where I would stay. It is a beautiful place.
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Old 02-15-2015, 10:42 PM   #6
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We made reservations at the Fish Creek campground (west side) for late July, in our case immediately following the Hard Times Bluegrass Festival in Hamilton. It and St Mary's on the east side are the only reservable ones, other than group sites at Apgar. Having tent camped in the park some years ago, Fish Creek is the nicer campground of the two. Unless we want to tow around the south border of the park, we pretty much have to choose a side and day trip from there. Avalanche, Rising Sun, and Many Glacier campgrounds are all nice - but first come, first serve.
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Old 02-16-2015, 09:25 AM   #7
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We have been to Glacier National Park 4 times over the years. Our most recent visit was July 2009 when we stayed 3 weeks. We stayed 1 week at West Glacier and 2 weeks at St. Mary's.

As mentioned by Leon "Apgar on the west side of Glacier. A nice place, and there are a couple of small stores near by. "
Along Highway 2 in the West Glacier area there are several commercial RV Parks, restaurants, grocery stores , and tourist activities (rafting, horse back riding,etc). At its worst the west side of Glacier in July can be like Yosemite Valley in summer, traffic jams and no parking. Fortunately, Glacier has a wonderful shuttle system.

Ray said "Last year we camped on the East side, at the St. Mary Campground. The campground was decent, but I can tell you that there isn't much in the area by way of stores, fuel, restaurants, etc. Many Glacier, (also on the East side), is nice, with beautiful scenery and a historic hotel,"

The east side of Glacier National Park is the quite side. It is a little harder to get to and there are less places to stay.

If you are going to Glacier to go hiking then the east side is paradise. There are only a few trails off of Going to the Sun Road out of Apgar. On the east side there are several trails along Going to the Sun Road between St. Mary's and Logan Pass. There are trails for even more hikes at Many Glacier and Two Medicine.

Ray wrote " but the road was terrible getting in to the area and again, no services - maybe the road has been repaired by now?"

I doubt that the roads have improved, Highways 49 and 89 seem to have been bad forever. We found that Highway 464 from Browning to St. Mary's although longer was a much better choice. Highway 464 had a much better surface and way fewer curves.

Soultrek wrote: "Unless we want to tow around the south border of the park, we pretty much have to choose a side and day trip from there."

Unless things have changed a lot since 2009, Highway 2 around the south border is the best road in the area. We pulled our then 35 foot 5th wheel from West Glacier to St. Mary's and found the road very well maintained and it had several passing lanes.

If you are interested, the blog entries with a lot of pictures from our last trip begin at: BirdingRVers: Glacier National Park – Part 1


The Mountain Goats at Logan Pass are very friendly.

PS Glacier National Park has both Black Bears and Grizzly Bears.
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Old 02-16-2015, 10:23 AM   #8
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Wow, great blog Grant & Kathy, I think we'll just follow your route - done!
Not sure about that "very fresh looking" bear poop tho!
Barry
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Old 02-16-2015, 10:25 AM   #9
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Glacier is my favorite National Park; I've been there 8 times, including drive throughs on the Going to the Sun road (with a van, not the trailer) to a week stay.

While July is usually OK, it is worth checking that the Going to the Sun road is open - in 2011 I drove the road on opening day - July 13th!

My favorite campground is Two Medicine, although Many Glacier is also beautiful. Both are very popular, so plan on getting there early, and have an alternative. I've also stayed at St Mary (the only campground in the park with showers) and Apgar. If you require hookups, there are commercial campgrounds on both sides of the park. You can check the fill times for the various campgrounds here by clicking on the campground. That will take you to a page that can be searched by date.

While there are many hiking opportunities, be sure to also take the time to drive out to the Polebridge Mercantile on the West side of the park. The best cinnamon rolls & sticky buns I've had, an a interesting place.
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Old 02-16-2015, 10:33 AM   #10
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We second Fish Creek Campground - make your reservations now! They also have showers there. Beautiful campground, close to Apgar and all the action on the west side. You cannot take your rig across Going to the Sun. We took one of the red 'jammers' over and back, had lunch at Many Glaciers so we got to see both sides of the park. WOW! It's not to be missed. You can make reservations for those trips In-Park Transportation: Red Bus Tours | Glacier National Park Lodges. If you are passing through Deer Lodge, the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic site is worth a stop. Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)

Have fun, happy trails,
Kathie
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Old 02-16-2015, 10:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bcdonaher View Post
Wow, great blog Grant & Kathy, I think we'll just follow your route - done!
Not sure about that "very fresh looking" bear poop tho!
Barry
I took the bear poop picture at the end of that hike because it was in the sunlight. When we first started out it was still steaming!

During that visit to Glacier we saw a black bear while driving in our truck and a mamma grizzle with 2 cubs across the lake at Many Glacier.

If you are going to be on the east side of Glacier, bring your passport. Waterton Lakes National Park is only 50 miles away and is certainly worth at least a day trip.
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Old 02-16-2015, 12:04 PM   #12
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Waterton is just gorgeous, but you'll be fighting lots of tourists for parking, etc. But it's still way worth it.
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Old 02-16-2015, 12:22 PM   #13
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Late last summer, Rising Sun was closed to tents because of bear activity. My favorite campground in my favorite park.
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:18 PM   #14
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Thanks ya'll. Glacier NP is now officially on our Bucket List.
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:36 PM   #15
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Apgar and Road to the Sun

We stayed there this last Sept (2014) for 3 days. The sites didn't have hookups but there is a dump station with easy access. I suspect all that plumbing would be very distruptive to this beautiful place. We just made use of the very well maintained bathrooms.

Plan to follow stringent bear precautions. Even leaving a grill out overnight/unattended is a NO-NO.

Not only would the 19 not be allowed, even if I could, I would not attempt with our 17B. This is a winding, narrow road blasted out of rock in the days of model T's.
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Old 02-16-2015, 04:22 PM   #16
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We were booked for a couple of nights last July in St Mary's Campground. A few days before we were to arrive, I got an email from the reservation site saying my booking was cancelled due to flooding in the campground. Thought we would go any way and try one of the drop in sites. But on the way to the National Park, the route we chose had a bridge out and we had to back track about 50 miles. Then the wind started picking up and before we knew it, there was a huge wind and rain storm all through Montana. Well it seemed like someone was trying to tell us something, so we decided to skip Glacier National Park on that trip and keep on heading north to Alberta. That windstorm (60 mile/hr) and rain storm lasted for the rest of our drive home. Mileage sucked, but the Escape handled great under very poor driving conditions. We are planning a return trip to Glacier for another trip.
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Old 02-16-2015, 04:32 PM   #17
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We spent a few days in the area last August, first night in a public CG near the park then 3 nights at Many Glacier CG. There are only a few public CGs near the east side so that may be an option. If you intend to stay in the park at a reservable CG make that reservation ASAP if you know your dates. If you just want to "show up" for a spot you need to know the dance ! These camp sites fill up very early, usually before 8 am. You need to drive into the CG and a host is usually at the entrance with a list of sites to be vacated that morning. You then need to have your envelope stub ready to attach to the site number post. It is a pain but worth it if you can get in.

We did the red bus tour which was great. If you are a hiker the hike to Iceberg Lake (photo) is quite spectacular but rather long at about 10 miles RT. Enjoy!

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Old 02-17-2015, 12:40 PM   #18
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We tell all be distant relatives, friends of friends, and friends of friends' friends, etc., if they're coming to Montana, don't go to Glacier Park. It's far too cold, the bears will eat you, people wear guns on their hips, people fall off cliffs all the time, and, by golly, you can't even use of drone to take pictures of the Park. We tell them to go to Yellowstone instead.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be working: GNP set new record attendance levels last year. So much for trying to keep the Jewel of the Continent to ourselves.

We echo all of the descriptive comments above. Going to GNP was a primary reasons we purchased our Escape. It's absolutely perfect for the Park: hard-sided, fully self-contained, off the grid capable, snug and comfortable. If you go slow, all the roads are Escapable, except those with prohibitions, like Going to the Sun.

While we've had to wait up to an hour for a first-come/first-served camp spot, our wait has never been futile. Worst-case scenario, you can always find a spot outside the park and come back the next day again.

Oh, and to our close friends? We say come and join us in GNP any time.

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Old 02-17-2015, 02:29 PM   #19
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We've been visiting Glacier for well over 40 years. Here's a few thoughts from me. Go as soon as you are able. In 40 years it's unbelievable how much the glaciers have receded. When you do the Going to the Sun Road, trade off driving. Everybody but the driver gets to rubberneck. So it's nice to share. That said, the next time I go I'm taking one of the red wagons. If you go mid summer, find out when and where Jack Gladstone is performing. Go to his show, get there earl, buy an album or two. He's an incredible artist. He's part of an in the park performing artist program. Saw grizzlies at Many Glacier, but saw mountain lion outside of the park. Lots of wildlife. To get yourself in the mood and better understand Montana in that region, read the novels by Ivan Doig, Dancing at the Rascal Fair, English Creek and finally Ride with me Mariah Montana. In that order. Love Montana, got them all beat in my opinion.
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Old 02-17-2015, 03:51 PM   #20
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Strongly second rfs's comments on Jack Gladstone. We encountered a tour group he was leading (above Avalanche C.G.) and were blown away by his singing. He graciously allowed my wife and I to join his group--we were so impressed with his music that we attended a concert he was giving that evening. Also second the recommendations for visiting Waterton--less crowded and just as spectacular. Jack Gladstone and the hikes in Glacier and Waterton were the highlights of the trip--particularly the Highline Trail in Glacier and Crypt Lake in Waterton. Have fun!
Dave
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