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Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

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Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

We are planning a month long road trip for Summer 2017. We will be coming to Glacier from Yellowstone and plan to spend 2-3 nights in Glacier before heading to Couer d'Alene. We will have been in YNP and GTNP for 7 nights. Our kids will be 4, 8 and 10. We are doing both camping and staying in lodge at Yellowstone. I'm open to either in Glacier, but a little worried about the night time temps with camping. Any recommendations on the best part of the park to stay in considering our kids ages? Lodges vs camping? We will be there middle of July.

Thanks!

Edited: 12:45 am, April 16, 2016
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The Great Bear Inn
The Great Bear Inn
#4 of 13 Specialty lodging in West Glacier
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins
#1 of 6 Specialty lodging in Glacier National Park
Lake McDonald Lodge
Lake McDonald Lodge
#2 of 6 Specialty lodging in Glacier National Park
Whitefish, Montana
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1. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

I've camped in May and September in Yellowstone where it can get nippy at night. Camped last week at Apgar with nighttime temps near freezing.

East side Glacier Park night time temps sure seem to be cooler with winds picking up just after sunset. Much fewer wildlife encounters while camping in Glacier than Yellowstone in the fall.

Water will be important in Yellowstone due to altitude. I've never been brave enough to visit Yellowstone

in July. :)

There are cabins behind the Swiftcurrent Inn In Many Glacier you might want to ask about them. Many Glacier Hotel has a great lobby but not sure what the renovation schedule is for next year.

montana slow hiker

Edited: 6:43 am, April 16, 2016
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Apgar Campground
Apgar Campground
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Glacier National Park, MT
Mahtomedi, Minnesota
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2. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

I think Slow Hiker meant to say he has camped in GLACIER in May and September as he says later on that he has never been brave enough to visit Yellowstone. I have camped both places in July. And I think you need to worry more about cold night time temps in YNP. Why, you might wonder when Glacier is farther north. YNP is much higher in elevation. As with many areas at higher elevation, it can be down right hot during the days but as soon as that sun disappears behind the mountains, it becomes chilly. Plan for near freezing temps at night in both parks in July.

Great Falls, Montana
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3. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

Either place can be unpredictable. It may be 95*F during the day and as hot as 65*F at night in either Glacier or Yellowstone. Conversely, it may be as cold at 35*F during the day and down around 25*F at night during July (less likely, but very possible). If I had to guess, I'd imagine you're most likely looking at temps around 80*F during the day and maybe 45*F at night as the most likely outcome... but it can and will snow at any time of year in either yellowstone or glacier, so its a possibility at least worth considering.

The weather is both areas can and will be unpredictable.

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4. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

gnp4me

Edit timed out on me on the last post but actually I have camped in both Yellowstone & Glacier in May and in September. In Glacier I have camped every month but January and February.

Hope to camp at Many Glacier this year the day it opens. Last year there was a long line on opening day as the campground didn't open until noon.

Fleece, raincoat & rain pants are part of my gear year round. Granted in the summer I don't usually carry my fleece pants.

Wildflowers are starting to bloom in the woods around my house so my next hike will be South Boundary Trail followed by Apgar Lookout.

It has been a warm spring with plenty of rain.

But to respond to this thread a mix of camping and lodging if it in your budget range might be more enjoyable for your kids.

montana slow hiker

Edited: 11:32 am, April 16, 2016
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Apgar Campground
Apgar Campground
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Glacier National Park, MT
Kalispell, Montana
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5. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

If you are worried about the night time temps at all, choose one of the lodges, motor lodges or cabins instead. The KOA campground in St Mary also has nice cabins as does the St. Mary Lodge. Cabins are really kind of a fun option because they are just rustic enough and very Western in flavor. Planning this trip for 2017 is great, you have plenty of time to flesh out what you want to do and narrow down lodging choices.

To avoid back tracking, I would come up to Glacier from YNP via the I-90 from Bozeman to the #287 and 89 routes into the park beginning your stay on the east side of Glacier first. I would stay 2 nights on the east core of Glacier, meaning in either St. Mary/Rising Sun or Many Glacier/Swiftcurrent and not East Glacier Park which is too far away for the bulk of the hiking and other activities. Remember that most of your first day/night in Glacier is used up by the drive up from YNP.

.............

I would stay 1-2 nights on the west side especially if you are interested in float or rafting trips or a special trip up to beautiful off-the-grid Polebridge and its famous mercantile bakery. Or go on beyond that a little way and stay in Big Fork on Flathead Lake or Whitefish a very interesting and fun small resort town near Big Mountain and its summer meadow hiking, scenic gondola ride, and zip lines.

The Mercantile: A Short Film About a Montana Bakery

theatlantic.com/video/index/382397/the-merca…

............

The day you cross over Going to the Sun Road from the east side to the west will be very interesting and likely take most of the day. Scenery galore, mountain goats at Logan Summit. Two famous hiking trails up there too. The top part of the famous Highline Trail at least down into the meadow section and Hidden Lake Overlook. Etc.

I mention all this here because I can foresee you wanting an extra day for the west side. The GTTSR day uses up that first day/night, leaving you with little time for anything on the west. Glacier looks small but it loaded with things to see and do for everyone and is very different from both the Tetons and YNP.

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Whitefish
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Montana
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Seal Beach...
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6. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

Great! This is so helpful, thank you. So ideally you think stay 2 nights on the east side and 2 on the west? I will look into the lodging you suggested. We may choose to mix it up and camp in one place and lodge the other. Thanks again!

Mahtomedi, Minnesota
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7. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

With kids their ages, and only four days, I would seriously skip the drive to Polebridge. They will already have been in the car a long time coming from YNP to GNP. There is not alot of interesting things to see on that drive for them and while the pastries are delicious at the Mercantile, I'm not sure the 3-4 hour round trip on poorly paved and dirt roads is worth it.Spend the time interesting them with Junior Ranger activities,hanging out around Lake McDonald, and taking short hikes.

Keep in mind that you may not be able to raft with the whole family, as they have age restrictions-your 4 year old will be too young.

You probably know, most kids LOVE the adventure of camping. You original post said you were thinking of 2-3 nights but you'll be glad you added a night as Mary Ellen suggested

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Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald
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Glacier National Park, MT
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8. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

If you are starting on the east side and moving to the west as you come from YNP as I mentioned above, you will be staying somewhere near Apgar or Fish Creek on the west. Its actually only 22 miles from Apgar to Polebridge and the gravel sections are intermittent. Those goodies and an outdoor picnic are kind of cool.

Friends of ours had family guests last year and they took a great "float trip" from Glacier Guides.

...............

The following from their website:

Difficulty: Easy, Family Friendly

This trip happens daily between the dates of 05/25/2016 and 09/30/2016.

Trip Duration: Approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.

Price Adult: $56.00

Price Child: $46.00

Description: Float through the scenic section of the Middle Fork of the Flathead from West Glacier to Blankenship Bridge. If you are not interested in any whitewater but would like to enjoy the river, this beautiful mellow float is for you. You’ll pass through a steep, walled canyon and see where the Middle and North Forks of the Flathead come together to form the southern tip of Glacier National Park. This is a relaxing trip for all age groups.

This trip leaves daily at 11:15 am. A 3:15 departure is available July 10th through August 14th.

The return time depends on the flow of the river. The float time is approximately 2 hours long mid season. In June it is 1.5 hours and in September 2.5 hours.

***Minimum age is 3 years old from mid July through September.

Gnp4me could be right about the allure of Polebridge for your kids though. They are all so different. I was all in as a kid if goodies were the bait. Those Ranger Led activities and just poking around on the beaches of Lake McDonald skimming rocks can be just as fun.

Edited: 10:44 pm, April 16, 2016
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Apgar Campground
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Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald
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Mahtomedi, Minnesota
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9. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

This depends on the time of year and what the actual river level is that day. Our rivers are free flowing and not dam controlled so it varies throughout the season. The following is a general rule of thumb:

Early season/high water (until mid June)- Children 10 and older.

Mid season/moderate flows (late June to early July)- Children 8 and older.

Remaining season/moderate to low flows (Mid July through Aug)- Children 6 and older.

Hmmm, seems Glacier Guides should get together and decide if the age requirement is 6 or 3

Edited: 11:45 pm, April 16, 2016
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Glacier Guides Lodge
Glacier Guides Lodge
400 Reviews
West Glacier, MT
10. Re: Where to stay in Glacier with younger kids? Lodge or camp?

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