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Visiting Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, Missoula MT ?
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pnwkayaker
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:54 am    Post subject: Visiting Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, Missoula MT ? Reply with quote

Me, my wife and two small kids are planning to visit Montana, Glacier NP and if possible swing by Yellowstone NP during a 9-day trip in July (driving first to Missoula MT).

I did some search prior in the forums, and found a couple of Yellowstone threads, but nothing on Glacier NP.

We're in the planning stage right now, I'd appreciate if you could provide any camping recommendation and places to see in those areas (we've never been in that area). I plan to do some reservations in advance (heard it can get very crowded on that time of the year) and wanted to make sure we have several nights with a confirmed place to camp.

We'll be driving our Syncro Westy, so if you also have some very interesting places to visit that are off the regular tracks, that would be even better!
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's contiguous so people often link them together in thought, but Grand Teton National Park is quite different from Yellowstone and worthy of some separate planning/camping to enjoy it to the max.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thats the same journey we want to take, what time of the year are you going?
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Be sure to check out the Beartooth pass outside the NE side of the park. Cooke City, MT has some awesome free camp spots accessible off of Daisy Pass. (dirt road, syncro recommended in spots)
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahwahnee wrote:
It's contiguous so people often link them together in thought, but Grand Teton National Park is quite different from Yellowstone and worthy of some separate planning/camping to enjoy it to the max.

We did a big loop from Salt Lake to YellowStone and back down to Salt Lake via the Tetons. You pass South from one park right into the next. We drove through the Teton park in one day (stopping to eat and take pictures) which was good enough for our family. Sure you can go hike and get out, and we may have missed some things but it worked for us. So I do understand the quoted section, but I would not worry about it much. If the kids are anything like mine (grade schoolers) they are happy just to keep on trucking.....

To our family Yellowstone was far more interesting and engaging for the kids than just looking at the big mountains.

It *IS* a nice trip no matter what you do!
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:53 am    Post subject: next year... Reply with quote

That's my trip for next year! Be sure and post what you end up doing.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did that trip on my motorcycle 2 years ago. I highly recommend going into GP from the west side as you get to see the road "driving to the sun" from the bottom of the park. Also the earlier in the am the better, for traffic and early morning colors.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahwahnee wrote:
It's contiguous so people often link them together in thought, but Grand Teton National Park is quite different from Yellowstone and worthy of some separate planning/camping to enjoy it to the max.


Except, the OP didn't mention Teton: "Glacier NP and if possible swing by Yellowstone NP" Wink

Never been to Glacier; was hoping to go last year, but couldn't make it... hopefully, this year! I'll be keeping an eye on this thread.

And, you could spend a week in Yellowstone and not see everything. Beautiful place. The Tetons are equally gorgeous, if you can swing a drive through there too.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did Glacier last year with a toddler and had a great trip. I second the idea of taking the Going to the Sun road from West to East. I also recommend the camping on the East side as the West side is nice but the campsites are tucked tight into the woods whereas the campsites on the East have some great views to afford. There are also different climates from East to West so be aware that bad weather on one side may not be that way on the other.

St Marys Campground on the East side has some great views of the park, as does Rising Sun, but we liked St Marys better. Two Medicine Campground has some fantastic views and a ferry service that small kids would enjoy (ours did Cool ) to the other side of the lake for some great short hike access. I wrote down the sites with views I thought were most desireable (YMMV Wink ) in Two Medicine 70-77,79,80,82 as you can make reservations. This was our favorite CG in the park. The Many Glacier area is nice for hiking but the campground is tucked into the woods again.

If youre in the MT area be on the lookout for fishing access campgrounds (they are everywhere) and offer some great river side camping with fishing permit included.

Hope you have a great trip!

EDIT- The Inside North Fork Road from the West side entrance will take you places that many dont venture as well.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have seen Glacier many times. This trip is pretty much what we did for our honeymoon many years ago. If you like less people then you shoul camp on the west side of glacier. Not much for the Kids to do except hike, fish, and aything on a lake. There is primative campgrounds that are not accessable to RV's. Long winding dirt roads which is what the syncro will love. Kintla and Bowman lake are our favs. To get there you actually will leave the park for a bit ( you could stay in the park but that road is bad) but come back in and pass through Polbridge. This is a great mercantile and restaurant. We actually take at least one night and drive in to pollbridge for dinner and drinks. Great times there.

Sounds like a great trip. We are taking the kids to Yellowstone this summer. We feel that Yellowstone is more family freindly and soon the kids will be old enough to enjoy the beauty of a place like Glacier.

Have fun.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did Glacier about 3 years ago. Echo the Two Medicine Campground suggestion. Quieter, nicer, further from crowds. Take the boat to the end of the lake, then hike up to the pass. Lots of grizzly in the area, but they close trails if bears are getting too close. Nearby town of Browning is nice, nothing special, but not touristed out. Catch a local pow-wow or rodeo if you can.

Going to Sun Road is VERY crowded mid day. Great day hikes from the top, but limited parking, ie the small lots fill and you will NOT be able to park your car. We ended up taking the shuttle bus up, avoided parking problem & allowed us to do a nice 1 way hike, picked up the shuttle at day's end for trip back to CG.

Campgrounds fill by noon, make your moves early. Many Glacier CG is great location, crowded, fills by 10:00 am. Good chance of wildlife spotting. Be sure to wander through the lodges, great architecture, dining rooms are beautiful, food ok, but fairly expensive.

Whole other idea, head up to Waterton NP in Canada, it adjoins Glacier. Guaranteed to see black bears, they are everywhere. Nine days is going to fly.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think most has been mentioned about Glacier but I'll add a couple of things.

Sprague Creek campground (West side just past MacDonald Lodge) is nice if you can get a spot on the water. Last year another westy beat me by 10 minutes to the last spot on the water d'oh!

There is a free bus system that travels the length of the Park. They want to reduce traffic so if you just want to hit a few sights then this may be a good way to see the park.

If you drive the pass, the morning has been mentioned as a good time but so is the evening just before sunset.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want to hike, teton park is hard to beat, the vertical relief there is just about unparalleled, Death Canyon to teton canyon Idaho, 20 miles of absolutely unforgettable. Leave your van in the teton canyon parking lot so when you get there you'll have food and frosted barely pops waiting, mmmmm...
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jackbombay wrote:
If you want to hike, teton park is hard to beat, the vertical relief there is just about unparalleled, Death Canyon to teton canyon Idaho, 20 miles of absolutely unforgettable. Leave your van in the teton canyon parking lot so when you get there you'll have food and frosted barely pops waiting, mmmmm...


Yes; DITTO!!!

I'm still haunted by the Tetons from visiting in October. Can't wait to get back there.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kamzcab86 wrote:
Except, the OP didn't mention Teton: "Glacier NP and if possible swing by Yellowstone NP" .


Yeah, it's 7 or 8 hours between the 2 parks and 12 hrs from Glacier to SD (Rushmore) - and that's in a faster vehicle than a Westy.

To the OP, if you ARE interested in some of the Yellowstone and especially Cooke City advice, PM me. I've worked in and around Cooke City for the past 10 years. New for 2012, the dirt roads around Cooke (Daisy Pass etc) have been improved and are in the best shape they've been in since the mid 2000s - and are likely only going to degrade into something non-passable from here on out.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gotta stop into Posh Chocolat in Missoula. The White truffle oil / salted chocolate is awesome. As was the toffee.

VW guy too.

Reminds me, I owe him a phone call.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nine days & from Seattle? Stay North amigo.
I've done both on a bicycle and a Vanagon. Not much diff! Very Happy
I'd save Yellowstone and GT for another trip. There is too much to see just going to Glacier.
Make the whole trip out part of the journey and camp your way out.
Follow this to Sandpoint, ID. I have lived my whole life in the PNW and this route rocks:
http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/northerntier.cfm?pg=detail&s=1

Then from Sandpoint head east to find the Bull River Hwy (don't miss this road and side attractions - hikes & historic ranger stations and general
middle of nowhereness) & up in to Glacier.

In Glacier I'd skirt the park around the southern border & head for the Two Medicine area first for a few days (especially coming from PNW) - cool history and great hikes up to the continental divide. Next work your way north and eventually west over Going to The Sun Road. Don't reserve ahead, it ties you down... unless you wanna stay put for many days at a time. The Two Medicine area is badass and way overlooked by lots of tourists and on the west side you can get a spot to camp early in the day. Fish creek has a buzzillion campsites and there is an area north on gravel that is seldom visited.
I did this trip in my van (no reservations in mid July) out and back two summers ago and it took two weeks and I could have used a few more days!
PS: I also lived in SW Montana for my college days. The Yellowstone/GT area is a haul in iteself and a different vibe best saved for a different trip in my opinion. Have fun.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:49 pm    Post subject: visiting GNP Reply with quote

We'll be there in September.
What about my dog? Sounds like we have to leave her side the park, and she loves to hike.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Folks have some good suggestions. One stop if the kids are old enough to appreciate it is the "Bear Zoo" like place near the West entrance. Can't recall the name, but it's a tourist trap and you drive your car into a fenced area where they have a dozen really large black bears. So you sit in your car and look at them and are free to drive around and look at them. They're not in cages, simply roaming around. Seems hokey, but when you're actually there sitting in your car and the kids are staring in awe at a bear 30 feet away it is totally worth the experience.

DougM
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