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Old 08-26-2015, 09:32 PM   #1
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Glacier NP

Help!! Please help us solve this dilemma! How many days do we need to spend in Glacier NP to enjoy all there is to see. Planning for summer of 2016. Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-26-2015, 10:38 PM   #2
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I'd say that the minimum for the park itself would be 3-4 nights. If you're hikers, then more. If you want to explore the area or do some boating, then more.
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Old 08-26-2015, 10:50 PM   #3
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Glacier NP

Impossible to give a comprehensive answer. Define "all there is to see". Are you an active family with kids, or a retired couple looking at 70 in the rear view mirror? Are you confirmed naturalists and hikers, or "drive around and get out to take pictures" vacationers? Do you go for the hidden gems, the hard to find grottos and waterfalls; or do you savor the overall impression, the distant views, the image of the grandeur?

We spent three days there last year around Labor Day. We loved it and will likely go back. While there we spoke to a couple in their 40s who had been hiking through and tent camping in Glacier since Memorial Day of that year.
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Old 08-26-2015, 11:21 PM   #4
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Glacier NP

Oh wow! That is great! I guess I should have been more descriptive. We're still working, thus limited to the two week trips from Phoenix. Like to hike some but hubs has two replaced knees so we limit the super active stuff but definitely not impaired and can still hike a bit . Like to drive and see everything and relax and soak up the natural surroundings all while enjoying a fantastic Napa cab or French Bordeaux. A good cigar with a 20 yr tawny port maybe?! Haha! We pretty much love everything!
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Old 08-27-2015, 07:46 AM   #5
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Glacier NP

Stargazer79.

When you look at the maps you will see the main road that goes from the west to the east. This one is paved and has some of the great views. Most of the lodges are located along this route. If you limit yourself to this then spend a day on the west side, a day traveling, and a day on the east side to include Whitefish.

Now most of the other roads are gravel/ mud and at times require 4x4 or slow skillful driving. We had a fun time in a K-Car with three adults.

On the west side there are roads to access remote lakes that have camp grounds next to the lakes. These are the little gems of the park. These roads are mostly dirt and rough.

Now to see the really special places require hiking (1+ miles) on hilly to step trails.

If you want to drive to see some of these remote areas you will need to add a day for that area or plan your time for on the west side you will be driving quite far at slow speeds.


If you plan to hike then you will need to pick your routes and study the maps to determine timeframes.

If you think you want to stay in the backcountry then start thinking about reserving your sites!

Now sadly I have not been back there since 1999, so I am sure things have changed; roads mostly.
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Old 08-27-2015, 03:07 PM   #6
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Here's the park's web site and by the way, all national parks have a site similar to this. It is loaded with good information for your planning.

Read the FAQ for Going to the Sun Road carefully for seasonal closure. This is the only road that goes through the whole park from west to east and it's very worthwhile to do.

Sept. 20 is the last day to drive its entire 50 mile length from west to east.

The 3rd weekend in October is the last day from west to Logan Pass.

RVs are not recommended on the road due to narrowness and steepness. Take your truck or car or the park shuttle.

Also, right now there are still fires in the area so it might be smokey. Hopefully, when you go it will have cleared.

http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/gttsrfaq.htm
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Old 08-27-2015, 04:12 PM   #7
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Three days in the park would be good.
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Old 08-27-2015, 04:28 PM   #8
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We spent two weeks in the area three years ago--but we are retired and have ample time to venture.
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Old 08-27-2015, 06:06 PM   #9
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Don't forget Waterton park is on the Canadian side and also worthy of a visit. Parks Canada - Waterton Lakes National Park - Waterton Lakes National Park

Then, there are the lodges with great restaurants. You can eat your way through the park

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Originally Posted by Stargazer79 View Post
Help!! Please help us solve this dilemma! How many days do we need to spend in Glacier NP to enjoy all there is to see. Planning for summer of 2016. Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:59 AM   #10
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These are great suggestions. Thanks to all of you! We can't wait! We are currently in West Yellowstone for 6 days and think we know every square inch now, lol. So beautiful, so much wildlife we've seen. Soooo looking forward to GNP. We have a 4x4 so that will help us with some of the challenging roads and we'll start looking at places for the rv now we are a 38' motorhome.


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Old 08-30-2015, 09:04 PM   #11
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The other challenge is you can't just do glacier np.
Whitefish, Kalispell, flathead lake are all needing attention also.
(I believe it's a law)
So 2 weeks.
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Old 08-31-2015, 10:20 AM   #12
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Hi Stargazer79,
GNP is my favorite NP. Been there many times and hiked all over the park. Based on DH's knees about the only day hike for you not to consider is the one to Grinnell Glacier. Going to the web site is a good thing to do. Be sure to plan your stay for no earlier than late July. I have been there in the middle of July and GTS road was still closed and the high elevation hiking trails were all closed due to snow. So watch this winter the GNP web site to see if there has been light, medium or record snow fall.

Plan a day for each hike and activity you want to do. One can easily over extend oneself. Always pack a lunch and take plenty of water.

My recommendation is to stay on the east side of the GNP. There is a KOA in St. Mary. Great CG to stay at. About a mile from the GTS road park entrance. Beautiful view of the mountains. A short drive to the other trail heads that are on the east side of the park. Get stocked up with food and drink before you get there. The rangers at the ranger station can provide excellent advice on the trails both DH and you will enjoy.

Stop at the ranger station daily to get the trail report for bears. Buy bear spray and a bear horn (air horn). I have personally had grizzlies and black bears want to use the same trail as me and at the same time. They win. For the most part, if you do not bother them they will go about their business and not bother you. Wear bear bells when hiking.
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Old 08-31-2015, 11:38 AM   #13
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We have been to Glacier NP four times now in our married life. We generally stay about 3-4 days depending on what other destinations or stops we throw in as only take a weeks vacation at a time.

We were just there this past July, we stayed for 3 days in Salmon, ID which was absolutely beautiful as we had never stayed there before but had heard about it. From there we headed up to Glacier for 4 days and then home in two.

That was about the right amount of time for us, we do some hiking and sightseeing but also enjoy seeing Colombia Falls/Kalispell area in the same trip.

Mike.
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Old 09-03-2015, 05:34 AM   #14
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Thank you! I will add Kalispel and Flathead and hopefully we will get up to Waterton as well. So many good ideas here! Can't wait.
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