Planning trip to Glacier National Park. Who’s been?

#3

GVF

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#3
Was in Montana with college buddies on a trip in '97. We had another friend that lived in Helena. 4 hours to Glacier. 4 hours to Yellowstone. We flipped a coin. Yellowstone won. Had never seen either, and didn't regret Yellowstone at all, but sure did miss that we couldn't do both. Glacier would definitely be a bucket list trip. If you fly into Helena, you absolutely must make time for a trip out to Marysville, and eat at Marysville Steak House before you embark on the rest of the trip. Absolutely worth the drive from anywhere in Western Montana.

As to your question, since we didn't go that way, can't offer personal recs but I did a quick google for accommodations near glacier. Trip advisor has some good results at good prices.

Travel Tip #1 to Montana's western regions...There is no true summer. Pack clothing for four seasons. We went in July. Arrived in short sleeves. Left 7 days later in a full weight winter coat.
 
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#4
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#4
First off I'll say you will love it. Amazingly spectacular.

I camped mostly - started in Two Medicine campground which is spectacular. It's on the East side (the more rugged side). I think we also stayed at Many Glacier campground but I can't remember. Finally after we did the Going to the Sun road we stayed a couple days in Apgar campground.

A note on camping - due to bear activity they are hyper paranoid about any food or soaps, etc left out. You'll be fined if they find any at your site when you aren't actively using it. When cooking dinner the camp ranger came to us to give us the bear warning even though we'd heard it repeatedly. You can't dump any cleaning water or anything with a scent (the bottom of a beer or soda) out at your site. It all has to go to dump stations.

We also stayed in a motel for a night or two to get a good shower. Wasn't affiliated with the park.

We hiked up to the scenic point over the Two Medicine entrance to the park. Great but long hike. The best hike was Iceberg Lake Trail - on the East side and I think it leaves out of Swiftcurrent. We did a guided (ranger) hike because it is (or was) the most grizzly intense area of the park. There had been a bear on the trail everyday of the week when we went (we fortunately avoided). Probably a group of about 15 people. Was fantastic. The first picture below is where it ends.

The lodges are worth visiting even if you aren't staying there.

You have to do Going to the Sun road; maybe more than once if you can swing it. When I was there in the 90s you could drive pretty freely on it but I thought I've heard traffic has been restricted and maybe you'll have to do the Jammer bus.

Everywhere you look is spectacular - hard to go wrong with anything you do there.

Agree with advice about clothing - weather changes like crazy. Another thing is that if you are there in mid-summer be prepared for very long days - I think it stayed light out to almost 11pm when I was there.

Some day I'll go back.

Iceberg Lake - this is the termination; right at the Continental Divide. That wall of rock will blow you away when you see how big it is compared to how it looks in pictures.

 
#8

GVF

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#8
We went in July. Top of Mt. Washburn in Yellowstone is above 12K feet, and we played in the snow up there. We also had snowy and blizzardy weather up at the Continental Divide up from Helena. I had never been anywhere before that the weather and temp can swing so wildly in the summer from one day to the next. Yellowstone was fantastic as well, but I do believe from all the pics I've ever seen of Glacier, it would win out in the vistas contest.

Of course you can't hit Montana without a little fly fishing. so I caught a Rainbow and a Brown on the Madison outside West Yellowstone. And quite a few cutthroat and graying on Park Lake above Helena.

We were gonna camp on the Madison outside of west Yellowstone at a campground. Rather primitive one. The weather changing thing...There was a storm started rolling in from the distance. We saw the thunderheads building, and said Oh He** No! We ended up at a local dive hotel.
 
#10

OldandStillaVol

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#10
I rented a house in Whitefish which was about 45 min drive to the park. I only hiked on the west side but drove over to the east side one day. It is spectacular on the east side but fewer accommodations there. I went over July 4 and watched a fireworks show over the lake in Whitefish. I like Glacier more than Yellowstone but both are spectacular.
 
#11
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#11
I would love the summer drive. Only how do you stay on the road and not look at scenery.

The snow workers can kiss my....
having been the driver and the passenger it's much better in the driver's seat - as passenger I thought we were going to die constantly!
 
#12

zhangliao04

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#12
For those that have done this before how does this sound:

Fly into Jackson Hope, WY and stay 1 day to visit and see the Grand Tetons.
Drive up to Yellowstone and visit there for 2 days.
Drive up to Helena and stay over night to brake up the travel to Glacier NP.
Spend 2 days in Glacier NP.
Fly home from Helena.

Should we spend an extra day in Glacier if we have the ability to?
 
#15

golfballs

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#15
First off I'll say you will love it. Amazingly spectacular.

I camped mostly - started in Two Medicine campground which is spectacular. It's on the East side (the more rugged side). I think we also stayed at Many Glacier campground but I can't remember. Finally after we did the Going to the Sun road we stayed a couple days in Apgar campground.

A note on camping - due to bear activity they are hyper paranoid about any food or soaps, etc left out. You'll be fined if they find any at your site when you aren't actively using it. When cooking dinner the camp ranger came to us to give us the bear warning even though we'd heard it repeatedly. You can't dump any cleaning water or anything with a scent (the bottom of a beer or soda) out at your site. It all has to go to dump stations.

We also stayed in a motel for a night or two to get a good shower. Wasn't affiliated with the park.

We hiked up to the scenic point over the Two Medicine entrance to the park. Great but long hike. The best hike was Iceberg Lake Trail - on the East side and I think it leaves out of Swiftcurrent. We did a guided (ranger) hike because it is (or was) the most grizzly intense area of the park. There had been a bear on the trail everyday of the week when we went (we fortunately avoided). Probably a group of about 15 people. Was fantastic. The first picture below is where it ends.

The lodges are worth visiting even if you aren't staying there.

You have to do Going to the Sun road; maybe more than once if you can swing it. When I was there in the 90s you could drive pretty freely on it but I thought I've heard traffic has been restricted and maybe you'll have to do the Jammer bus.

Everywhere you look is spectacular - hard to go wrong with anything you do there.

Agree with advice about clothing - weather changes like crazy. Another thing is that if you are there in mid-summer be prepared for very long days - I think it stayed light out to almost 11pm when I was there.

Some day I'll go back.

Iceberg Lake - this is the termination; right at the Continental Divide. That wall of rock will blow you away when you see how big it is compared to how it looks in pictures.

OP might want to just hire you as their guide
 
#16
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#16
For those that have done this before how does this sound:

Fly into Jackson Hope, WY and stay 1 day to visit and see the Grand Tetons.
Drive up to Yellowstone and visit there for 2 days.
Drive up to Helena and stay over night to brake up the travel to Glacier NP.
Spend 2 days in Glacier NP.
Fly home from Helena.

Should we spend an extra day in Glacier if we have the ability to?
I think you'll want at least another day in Glacier.

Depending on what you want to do at Yellowstone there's a fantastic drive called the Beartooth Hwy that comes out of the NE entrance to Yellowstone and ends up in Red Lodge MT. Look it up - both the road and Red Lodge are great; lots of Wild West history in Red Lodge. We stayed in the Pollard Hotel - the first brick building in town Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane both visited the hotel.

https://www.thepollardhotel.com/ourstory

Beartooth Highway, the most beautiful drive in America
 
#17
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#17
Side story. After camping for many days in various parts of MT my buddy and I got a motel, took showers and went to East Glacier to hit a restaurant. We ended up at a sports bar type place called Blondies.

They had the old TV trivia where you had a box and competed across the country - that NTN trivia stuff. The bar had about 20 people and they appeared to be locals and looked like you expect someone who lived in the mountains to look.

A new game started and the topic was sex. We were eating so we didn't play but most of the patrons were playing. That bar came in 2nd in the country (based on average score of players) - I've never seen a bar I was in even crack the top 500.

We got a little nervous we were gone to be taken to some mountain cabin to meet the gimp.
 
#21

zhangliao04

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#21
First or second week in September is by far the best time to go. If you have an RV, stay at the KOA in West Glacier. If you don't have an RV, stay at the cabins at KOA in West Glacier. Best trip of my life.
Why would you say that is the best time to go over going in June or July? Crowds?
 
#22

OldandStillaVol

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#22
No advice other than it's the most naturally gorgeous place I have visited on planet Earth.
At my former church, there was a young couple with 2 young girls. Mom taught high school and dad in college. Both mom and dad had summer jobs as NPS rangers on the east side of Glacier. The seasonal jobs probably didn’t pay much but I was always envious of their situation. It was also great experience for their young kids.
 
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#24
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#24
The motivation for my trip was a road atlas I had with a picture of Glacier on the cover. Had it for years and told myself I'd go to that place someday. Had a summer off one year and talked a buddy into a two week trip - drove there from Chicago area.

Seems weird now but thinking back this was pre-Internet so it was basically libraries and book stores to do the trip research. No GPS either so paper maps for the trip and for all our journey around the state.
 

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