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where to stay

philadelphia, PA
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where to stay

Hi all,

Our family is in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Glacier this summer--our first.... I've read previous posts on the lodging/location subject, but I'd like to get this nailed down from my perspective. It seems that the best hiking options originate from the Many Glacier area of the park, so I'm hoping you Glacier veterans could advise on approximate driving times to there from the following towns: West Glacier, East Glacier, Polebridge, Babb.We've checked out lodging options in the park, but everything is booked for the dates we're traveling. We're not adverse to a bit of a drive, but we're certainly not looking to spend the bulk of our day in the car. Thanks in advance for your help and expertise....

Phoenix, Arizona
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1. Re: where to stay

If your intention is to focus on Many Glacier, it would make little sense to stay on the west side of the park. West Glacier is 70 miles from Many Glacier, and the drive between the two can easily exceed two hours (much more if you get stuck in construction delays on the Going-to-the-Sun Road). Polebridge is located on the road to Bowman Lake, a semi-gravel track that can take an hour or more to traverse from West Glacier, to say nothing of Many Glacier. East Glacier is about 54 miles or so from Many Glacier, but it can take over an hour and a half to travel between the two. Babb is the only place you mentioned that is located in close proximity to Many Glacier (12 miles). You did not mention St. Mary, however, which is only 20 miles from Many Glacier. There are a couple of options there, just outside the park gate, and staying there would also make access to the Going-to-the-Sun Road and its many trailheads (Siyeh Pass, Highline Trail, etc.) that much closer.

If you decide to stay in East Glacier- which offers more and probably better lodging options- you would at least be on the same side of the park and you'd have close access to Two Medicine. If you're avid hikers, there are some fantastic hikes in that area as well, including the trail up Scenic Point and, if you're really, really ambitious, the amazing, best-hike-I've-ever-done Dawson-Pitamakin Loop (18 miles RT). Many Glacier, of course, has the classics to Grinnell Glacier, Iceberg Lake, the Ptarmigan Tunnel and Cracker Lake, all of which are worthwhile. Fact of the matter is, the whole east side of the park offers some great options, so you might want to narrow down your lodging search to that side.

(Oh, and don't forget Waterton Lakes in Canada... there's a fair amount of lodging options there as well as in the town of Cardston, about 30 minutes from the park. While Waterton Lakes is still about 50 miles from Many Glacier, it offers some world-class hiking of its own. Crypt Lake and especially the Carthew-Alderson Trail are both on par with the hikes at Many Glacier, at least in my opinion. Just don't forget your passports!) Best of luck with your choices!

Louisville, Kentucky
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2. Re: where to stay

We've stayed in East Glacier several times when we couldn't get lodging in Many Glacier, although we love hiking in the Two Medicine area so we didn't have to drive into Many Glacier everyday. East Glacier Lodge is nice and we've also stayed at Jacobson's Cottages - older but clean and the owners are very nice. In St. Mary, you might want to try Pinnacle Cottages - friends stayed there and highly recommended it. Keep checking for cancellations for MG Hotel or Swiftcurrent Lodge - you might get lucky.

East Glacier also has one of the best Mexican Restaurants around - Serrano's. If you go there, you need to be there before the doors open at 5Pm as there's always a line.

As stated above, the Two Medicine area in East Glacier has some great hiking. Depending on what you're able to find for lodging you might want to think about splitting your stay between the Many Glacier/St. Mary and Two Medicine area. Besides Dawson Pass and/or Pitamakan Pass, there's also Scenic Point and Firebrand Pass. All of those are some of the top hikes in the park. (I'm a little partial to Two Medicine)

hikinginglacier.com/glacier-top-ten-hikes.htm

If you're looking to do only ranger led hikes, you may want to check last year's schedule to get an idea of which hikes may be scheduled for this year and plan your lodging from there:

…nps.gov/applications/…inforequest3.cfm

philadelphia, PA
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3. Re: where to stay

Thank you all for you in-depth responses.... We've a much better idea of the "lay of the land"! Believe it or not, when we first started plannig, we were thinking about using Kalispell as our base--seems kind of foolish now that we've learned a few things.

It appears more and more likely that we'll split our stay between a couple of locations. We at first were thinking of splitting time between the East and West sections of the park, but a Many Glacier/Two Medicine split might be a better option.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for posting the link to the 10 best hikes. We're experienced hikers and will probably strike out on our own most often....

buffalo
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4. Re: where to stay

Agree with above...

I recommend to hikers to spend at least 75% of your stay on the East side....my options in order of desirability...

1.Check Many Glacier accommodations (Many Glacier Hotel, Swiftcurrent Inn) for cancellations (which often occur) on a regular basis...

2. Rising Sun...

3. St. Mary

4. Babb

5. East Glacier

Spokane, Washington
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for Glacier National Park, Spokane
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5. Re: where to stay

Ditto toddnick post

Turner, Maine
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6. Re: where to stay

I would agree that if your hiking focus is in the Many Glacier area, you do not want to stay in West Glacier. It is probably a good two hour drive from one to the other. With Logan pass being fairly close to the halfway point. We enjoyed several hikes on either side of the pass, probably Avalanche Lake being our favorite. You did not mention the ages in your family, but this would be a good hike for say 10 and older. Someone already left this link but it is very helpful, especially with difficulty and location of various hikes

http://www.hikinginglacier.com/

You may want to book lodging soon, I have seen other posts where things are filling up.

Glacier is an awesome park. Have a great trip.

Edited: 1:44 pm, January 27, 2014
indiana
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for Glacier National Park
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7. Re: where to stay

For Many Glacier area if you can't get Swiftcurrent or Many Glacier hotel, try Glacier Trailhead Cabins and Thronson's General Store and Motel. I have not stayed at either but they get good reviews and are good location for Many.

philadelphia, PA
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8. Re: where to stay

Thank you all, again. What are your opinions on splitting time between two locations on the East side of the park, say Many Glacier and Two Medicine, versus East and West, like Many Glacier and Lake McDonald?

indiana
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9. Re: where to stay

I would split between the east and west. This gives you time to explore the GTTSR as you move from one side of the park to the other without trying to do it all in one day and having to backtrack. While Two Medicine is scenic and has some nice trails, I would still try to stay closer to Many Glacier. Keep checking for room availability. There are cancellations. I would call instead of using the website to find cancellations.

Edited: 8:21 am, January 28, 2014
buffalo
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10. Re: where to stay

Driving Times from Many Glacier/Swiftcurrent -

Babb - 20 Minutes

St. Mary - 30 Minutes

Rising Sun - 40 Minutes

East Glacier/Two Medicine - 75 Minutes

Logan Pass - 75 Minutes

West Glacier/Apgar - 2 1/2 hours

Polebridge - 3 1/2 hours

I tend to do Two Medicine/East Glacier as a day hiking trip or two from a base in Many Glacier...

I's spend a few days on West Side (Village Inn at Apgar is my first choice with Lake McDonald Lodge as a close second)...best hiking options from West side are Logan Pass trailheads (Highline, Hidden Lake), Huckleberry Lookout, Apgar Lookout, and Avalanche Lake...nice day trip up to Polebridge and Bowman Lake.