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Thread: Glacier National Park. And others out west.

  1. #1
    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    Glacier National Park. And others out west.

    I'm in the early stages on planning an extended trip next summer. The rough plan so far is to head to GNP first. Then maybe, going to CA and Yosemite. Not sure about that but then the general idea is to work my way south to Texas where 2 of my kids live. The return will most likely be basically following the AT. Stopping in areas with the best hiking opportunities.

    So, a couple questions. The first one is just a general question about what others think would be some must stops heading south from Montana and or northern CA. Obviously, I won't be able to see everything even though this is probably going to be a month long trip. My second and bigger question is, is Glacier really booked as far as the eye can see? I looked at all the campgrounds in the park that have reserved spots ( 4 camps as far as I can see ) and nothing. Right through 2020 is as far as you can look and not a single spot available. Did I need to be planning this 5 years ago? I know there are first come, first serve spots but wouldn't do that much driving without a reservation. Any insight?

    Thanks
    Joe

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    Senior Member RollingRock's Avatar
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    I was also surprised how far Glacier was booked when I was planning on a 10 day hiking vacation back in September 2017, so yes this is correct. We were forced to rent a VRBO property which ended up working just fine!
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    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Unless you have some other reason to be in Yosemite or you've "seen it all before", your bang-for-mile from Glacier is probably going to be better staying a litlte further east and following roughly the Continental Divide down and then cutting over on 40 or 10 towards TX. Maybe not places where you'd want to spend weeks like Yosemite but lots that are worth a day (and a night in a tent). Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Great Sand Dunes, Wheeler Peak, maybe Carlsbad. Also quite a bit if you take the UT-AZ route instead of CO-NM. Depends on what you're looking for.

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    Senior Member griffin's Avatar
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    Regarding Glacier - the folks on this message board have lots of great info:

    http://www.glacier.nationalparkschat...pBB3/index.php

    As far as the campgrounds go (assuming you mean car camping and not backcountry?), you can find historic data on when the various campgrounds fill up here: https://www.nps.gov/applications/gla...s/cgstatus.cfm It's not the same as a reservation, but if you know your dates you can get a sense of whether you'd arrive in time to get a site. The other thing to keep in mind is that as early as a lot of places book up with reservations, they tend to get cancellations closer to the date, so don't give up hope.
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    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    I 2nd the notion you don't have to go as far as Yosemite. Another closer and equally dramatic side trip would be anywhere in the Canadian Rockies. Banff is closest to the border, aside from Waterton which is right at the border with Glacier. Canada's tax system makes it expensive but the current favorable exchange rate helps balance it out. Remember passport and bear spray.

    On your way to Texas from the southern Rockies, Guadalupe, high point of Texas offers views forever as it rises above the West Texas plains. The wind always blows there and there are convenient tent sites at the trailhead.

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    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    Ah, the retired life. My guess is if you do hit up Yosemite, you'd be heading to Texas across I-40. Were it not summer, I'd highly recommend some hiking in Sedona and the Grand Canyon. But if you're set on summer, lots to do in Colorado.

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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    If you can go after Labor Day instead of before, you will do better with crowds, and maybe also with weather.

    Depending on your route, consider Bryce and Zion. Or further east, the South Dakota Black Hills.

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    Member JB's Avatar
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    Hi Joe,

    My hiking partner and I went to Glacier in September, so perhaps you won't have the great luck that we did. The trip was taken after online reservations closed for the year. We had planned to go in July, but that did not work out. However, I was able to get reservations for the original July trip at the St. Mary campground, but not the Many Glacier campground.

    When we went in September, we were able to secure campsites at Two Medicine, Many Glacier and a backcountry permit at No Name Lake. We also were able to get a same day reservation at the Many Glacier hotel. We arrived at the ranger stations well before they opened to secure the campsites, and still not first in the queue. I believe most of them have some first come first served sites in the summer.

    Best of luck to you, Glacier was fabulous.

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    Senior Member weatherman's Avatar
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    Other thing to keep in mind is that many reservations far ahead of time are made by folks who cancel close to the date. I believe there is a 48 or 72 hour free cancellation policy at the NPS campgrounds and lodges. What we did to snag a gorgeous CCC-era cabin at the Grand Canyon North Rim in peak season is lurk on the reservation site every few hours beginning 4-5 days before we wanted to go. Have a backup plan just in case. Worked great!

    Comments about peak season being super-crowded at the biggest half dozen parks are unfortunately all too true. But some CO parks (Dinosaur, Black Canyon, NOT Rocky Mountain though) are out of the way enough to be less crowded, and no less interesting! And some of the parks are so big that if you access them via a route that is hard to get to (say, Wild Basin in RMNP) will have much more room to yourself.
    --would rather be hiking than typing.

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    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    been to many NP's out there. Did Glacier 4 times. Last Sept was the last. Going again this September to Glacier. First come first serve is there at some of the campgrounds. Just get there early. Glacier is 6 months ahead to reserve. Once I did Glacier,Yellowstone,Tetons,Arches,Bryce,Zion,Grand Canyon North Rim on one trip.
    Easy driving out there. Many places to camp as well. National Forest's galore. Glacier puts the White Mountains to shame. So awesome.

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    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. Most of which are on the long list. But the best idea I've seen so far is hold off till September. Will probably do that.
    Joe

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    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJoe View Post
    Thanks for all the suggestions. Most of which are on the long list. But the best idea I've seen so far is hold off till September. Will probably do that.
    Careful with September. They start closing stuff by mid September. Best to do first 2 weeks. You can do August just takes more work to find a place. Are you camping? or Motels?

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    Senior Member KV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJoe View Post
    Any insight?
    Hi Joe. Cathie and I went out to Glacier this past summer. We were there in June. I noticed lots of places available on the western side. GTTS road was closed until our last 2 days there, but that was ok. We AIRBNB'd it, but around Kalispell and teeny tiny Martin City had places available. In California you really can't go wrong anywhere around Yosemite or Joshua Tree or Tahoe/Truckee area or King's Canyon. Unless you don't want to see trees, then head to the coast.

    Not what you're looking for with camping-site-specific info - but sometimes you just have to fly by the seat of your pants and go with what Weatherman stated earlier and watch for when others cancel.
    Life is a trip. Pack Accordingly.

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