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Help with first Glacier visit

Marcellus, New York
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Help with first Glacier visit

Note: If this is more appropriate for the Road Trip forum I am happy to ask there, but I specifically want to know about where to spend time in GNP (and Waterton NP, but primarily Glacier). I am not concerned about the route(s), I can figure that out or ask in the appropriate spot later. I just need to know where we'll be!

I have read quite a bit on the forums and other sites, and am trying to put together a reasonable first visit to GNP for my family, including myself and hubby, plus our two kids who are 9 and 11. We like short hikes, nice scenery, and don't mind a long day in the car here and there. The following is my draft plan thus far, but I could use help with it from those of you who know the park. I'm going off what I've read, and I'd rather have input from fellow forum members with firsthand experience!

This trip will be in early August and we will be driving a rental car/van. I have checked the rental info and it appears that going into Canada won't be an issue as long as they know when we rent so they can provide proper documents.

Day 1 - drive from Idaho Falls, ID, stay in Essex, MT

Day 2 - tour GNP, camp at Fish Creek

Day 3 - Relax, tour western part of park camp at Fish Creek

Day 4 - See part of GTTS, stay Rising Sun Motor Inn

Day 5 - Bus tour of GNP (not sure which one - input welcomed!), Swiftcurrent

Day 6 - Hiking, tour eastern side of park (MG, TM?) Swiftcurrent

Day 7 - Tour eastern side of park (MG, TM?) Swiftcurrent

Day 8 - return to Idaho Falls

The first day is a motel/hotel day because we will likely be arriving too late to want to set up camp. As for the rest of the trip, I will do more reading up on activities, specific hikes, etc. The plan is to do a boat tour, I am going to look into horseback riding, and some short hikes.

I was considering driving up to Waterton NP for a day trip when we were at Swiftcurrent, but I am starting to wonder if it makes more sense to depart Glacier after Day 6 and spend one night up in Waterton and then return to Idaho from there instead, driving the loop of that park back down into MT instead of going back through Glacier.

Any suggestions? I am at the mercy of the reservation deity when it comes to changing nights, but I am willing to toss everything up in the air if it would make for a better trip. We *might* be able to stretch the Glacier trip one more day, possibly two, but it would mean ditching plans to visit Zion NP on the earlier loop of our trip (we are doing a road trip through OR, northern CA, and GCNP , followed by Zion).

Thank you for any guidance or advice you can offer.

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Canada
Canada
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Fish Creek Campground
Fish Creek Campground
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Glacier National Park, MT
Great Falls, Montana
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11. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

Some great shorter hikes that might be suitable for kids (and some have already been mentioned):

Avalanche lake- about 5.5 miles round trip (west side based out of avalanche campground)

Grinnell lake- about 6.5 miles round trip, or a little over 2 miles round trip if you take the boat. (based out of many glacier)

redrock lake/redrock falls - 2 miles round trip (based out of many glacier-swiftcurrent parking lot)

st. mary/virginia falls- 3.4miles round trip if you go all the way to virginia. (st. mary valley)

Hidden lake overlook- 3miles round trip (based out of logan pass visitor center)

If you are going to 2-med stop by running eagle falls, its only a few hundred feet.

If your kids feel really ambitious you could try scenic point out of 2-med. I believe its about 6miles round trip but there is a ton of elevation gain compared to the other trails I mentioned (I think ~2200ft) but something to consider.

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Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake
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Glacier National Park, MT
Hidden Lake
Hidden Lake
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West Glacier, MT
Detroit, Michigan
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12. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

Our first trip to Glacier we wanted to see Waterton, and figured it would be a good "down day" from hiking.

First of all right near the customs booth you will see a small cement tower that sz International Boundry look to the left you will see a cut out in the woods for as long as you can see pretty cool we thought. We also had one of our closest bear encounters right at the Custom's booth a Mom and 3 cubs. The drive is not bad and the view from when you walk inside the Prince of Wales Hotel will make your jaw drop! Go across the street to the Visitors center and the trail to Bear's Hump is right there. A short mile hike but very steep (Bear's Hump will kick your rump lol) for some of the most incredible views of the Waterton Lakes! Just take your time the views are absolutely worth it plan on a picnic lunch up there. Right in the town square no hiking necessary is Cameron Falls. Another short drive takes you to Red Rock Canyon (kids can go right down to the bottom and play around, and again a short hike takes you to Blakiston Falls. We took friends back with us last year and took them to Waterton, it is different but beautiful and technically where the U.S. Rockies shakes hands with the Canadian Rockies. If you have the time do it. There are also boat trips from Waterton with other short to longer hikes from there if you want to do something a bit different. All very doable in a day.

Having been to Zion/Bryce I would say save that for another trip and explore some of the other Utah Parks as well.

Edited: 2:29 pm, March 24, 2014
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13. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

p.s. Grinnell Glacier is closer to 8 miles with the boat. As others have said you do not need to go all the way to the Glacier but far enough to get good views of Grinnell Lake from above. That lake is incredible it seems every time you look at it the colors are a bit different.

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Grinnell Glacier
Grinnell Glacier
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Glacier National Park, MT
Marcellus, New York
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14. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

Thank you mzambo - I think we are leaning towards going up to Waterton for a day trip rather than spending the night. I've looked into lodging and just can't wrap my mind around where to stay, and the drive seems do-able for a long day trip from the east side of Glacier. I am hoping the border crossing doesn't take too long! We will be sure to keep our eyes out for the cut you mentioned, and will try to do Bear's Hump and check out the other areas you mentioned.

I'm still unsure whether skipping the overnight up there is the way to go, but there are only so many days and nights for this trip. :)

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Bear's Hump
Bear's Hump
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Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada
Central Florida...
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15. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

We have visited Waterton as a day trip from Many glacier area. Be sure to visit Prince of Wales Hotel, incredible view! Eat in the village and wander around the lakefront. If you stay long enough, you can get supper and pie at Two Sisters or Park cafe near St Mary's , on the way back to GNP. The lines at the border were longer as we returned to USA. Enjoy.

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Prince of Wales Hotel
Prince of Wales Hotel
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Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada
United States
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Marcellus, New York
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16. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

Thank you CDR! I was worried about the lines, but I am hoping as long as we allow ample time to get back and forth (early start, not too late returning) we should hopefully be okay. I also like the idea of being able to leave things we aren't allowed to bring across the border (fruits, potentially some bear sprays, etc) in our room back in Glacier rather than having to discard them or avoid buying them prior to heading into Canada.

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Canada
Canada
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Private
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17. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

I took my 11 yr old granddaughter last year and she fell in love with the place. Her favorite hike was the Avalanche Lake Trail. We did it first to get use to the altitude. The Hidden Lake trail from Logan's Pass is a good short hike we also enjoyed, and we saw mountain goats. Check out the hike to Iceberg Lake from Swiftcurrent. It is long, but we all loved it! It was my favorite. You cannot go wrong in Glacier. Be sure to drive the Going to the Sun Road at least once, but start early before it gets too crowded. We have been to GNP four summer, but have to miss it in 2014. Have fun!

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Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake
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Iceberg Lake
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Glacier National Park, MT
Fort Worth, Texas
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18. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

We traveled to GNP when my step kids were 11 and 13. Their most favorite thing we did was a 1/2 day whitewater raft tour. If you do this, it's best to do from the west side of the park. No experience is necessary, and it was a lot of fun. We went in the middle of July and it was all class 2 rapids with 1 class 3 rapid, so it wasn't scary at all. Their favorite hike was Logan's Pass all the way down to Hidden Lake. Grinnell Glacier was their 2nd favorite, which we did with the boat ride.

We are going next year with my son who will be 7 at the time. We are also planning to visit the mountain in Whitefish to do the alpine slide. We did one in CO, and it was really fun. There is also some beach areas on Whitefish Lake, and we are planning to check out Whitefish City Beach on our trip. Our son loves swimming so that may be something else to check out.

I just find it best to incorporate some things fun for kids to keep them happy.

Have a great trip.

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City Beach
City Beach
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Norfolk, UK
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19. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

Hi

I would really recommend the ranger-led walks. I went on two last year (John's Lake Loop and Avalanche Lake) I wish we had time to do more. You can find out about the ranger activities from the link on this page: nps.gov/glac/…ranger-led-activities.htm but they only have the winter programme on there at the moment. The rangers were funny, friendly and really informative. We really enjoyed the walks we did with them. On that link you can also find the activities and talks etc going on at the different lodges (but you'll have to check back as there's nothing listed at the moment). As for boat rides I can really recommend the grinnell lake boat tour and hike from many glacier hotel. The walk was nice and gentle (you can go to the glacier if you want a longer more strenous walk) and you got two boat rides for the price of one as there are two lakes there. It was great for wildlife and the tour guide was very funny. I don't know about bus rides, but the jammer buses seemed to be the most popular option. The jammer huckleberry cream soda (in bottles) is also reeeeally delicious! Happy planning!

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Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake
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Glacier National Park, MT
Spokane, Washington
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20. Re: Help with first Glacier visit

hiking reference map and trails= www.hike734.com

Jake completed hig GNP hiking map and references and this is an excellent guide to chose hiking routes and chose between options. Color coded topographic map with trail descriptions.