Hockey Ref's Glacier National Park FAQ, Updated May 2013

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Hockey Ref's Glacier National Park FAQ, Updated May 2013

Postby daveparker » Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:22 pm

I would like to thank HockeyRef, Tara and Heff and everybody else for putting this together...

Dave

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Frequently Asked Questions
on the Glacier National Park Chat Board
(Fourth Edition; May 2013)


Author’s note: New visitors to this site planning their first Glacier visits often ask many of the same basic questions about the park. This list of questions and answers puts the information they seek in one place. The first edition was posted in 2006; second and third editions were posted in 2009 and 2011.

The answers represent the facts as I understand them to be or reflect my own personal experience and opinions. I would be surprised if there aren’t a few minor factual errors here and there. I don’t pretend to speak for others who also are key contributors to this board. However, I believe that most of my comments mesh fairly closely with the responses I’ve read from others over the years.

For official information above and beyond what is found below, visit the National Park Service website for Glacier at http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm. Frequently-asked questions on the National Park Service website for Glacier (not to be confused with these FAQs) can be found at http://www.nps.gov/glac/faqs.htm.

A very nice non-official website on Glacier, including basic information, hike descriptions, and many photos is: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierNationalPark.html

Special thanks to Dave Parker, the founder of this board and one of its most vocal contributors. Thanks also to Tim “Heff” Heffernan for his contributions to the backpacking section and to everyone else who has offered suggestions for this document.

Happy trails!

Paul (Andy) Anderson (aka Hockey Ref)
Indianapolis, IN
May 2013


VISITING GLACIER

Q. When is the best time to visit Glacier?

A. Summer is Glacier’s “high season,” but it is relatively short. Most park facilities, such as lodging, restaurants, campgrounds, and camp stores open around the second week of June, although some campgrounds may open sooner. However, the Going-To-The-Sun Road through the heart of the park will not open until it has been completely cleared of snow (see separate questions on the GTTS Road below). That could be as early as late May or as late as early July depending on the previous winter’s snowpack. A record late opening date of July 13 was set in 2011, and snow at the Logan Pass visitor center was still more than 10 feet deep.

Many of the park’s secondary roads and lower-elevation hiking trails are accessible by late May or early June. However, many upper-elevation trails may not be reachable until late June or early July due to snow cover. Accessing those trails under those conditions often requires knowledgeable use of crampons, ice axes, and route-finding skills.

Glacier’s summer weather mostly is quite pleasant, but visitors need to be prepared for extremes, including stifling heat and humidity, sudden severe thunderstorms, or even sleet or snow. If you’re planning on hiking or camping, make sure to carry the proper clothing, especially outerwear that can keep you warm and dry, and wear shoes or boots that can keep your feet dry (extra dry socks may come in handy, too). A day that starts out sunny and warm can become cold and wet very quickly.

Q. Are July and August better times to visit than June?

A. In my personal opinion, yes. As noted above, this is simply because more of the park is accessible in July and August than in June. In addition, June generally is much wetter and cooler than July and August. On the other hand, some people prefer June simply because the park is less crowded and they like seeing snow on the hillsides and heavy flows in the streams and waterfalls.

Note: There is a specific section on this site devoted to park weather at: viewforum.php?f=5

Q. What about visiting Glacier in September or later?

A. Many people believe that September is the best time to visit the park because of the cool weather, no bothersome insects, the fall colors, increased animal activity as they prepare for winter, and the lack of crowds (although Glacier is never as crowded as some other national parks). Most park lodging, restaurants, camp stores, and other facilities close for the season by the second week of September, or even earlier. Campgrounds usually close a bit later but often revert to “primitive” status before closing completely. The GTTS Road often closes around mid-September with limited access on both the east and west sides. Secondary roads close as weather conditions deteriorate.

Q. Can I visit Glacier in the winter?

A. Absolutely. Glacier never really closes. But keep in mind that winter is a very harsh season in Glacier, with extremes in terms of sub-zero temperatures and wind chill, heavy snow, and everything that comes with those. Also be aware that most of the park’s roads, not just the GTTS Road, are closed and/or unplowed during the winter season. Snowmobiles are not permitted inside the park, so you’ll have to use cross-country skis or snowshoes to get in and out. And once you’re there, you’ll be on your own. If you choose to go, be prepared and use extreme caution. Leaving your itinerary with someone on the outside also is a good idea in case of an emergency.

Q. How crowded is Glacier?

A. Glacier receives around 2 million visitors each year. While that seems like a large number, it’s far less than such parks as Yellowstone and Yosemite. With the exception of the GTTS Road and a few of the most popular day-hiking trails, Glacier rarely feels crowded, and it’s not hard to find solitude if that’s what you seek.

Q. Does Glacier have an entrance fee?

A. A seven-day permit costs $25 per vehicle (not per individual) between May 1 and November 30. The winter rate is $15. A seven-day single-person permit costs $12 in summer and $10 in winter. Annual passes cost $35 and admit the user and all passengers in a single private vehicle.

Q. I have a very limited amount of time to spend in Glacier. What are the “must-sees” that I shouldn’t miss?

A. One day: If you have only a single day to spend in Glacier, spend it along the Going-To-The-Sun Road (see separate question on the GTTS Road). If you start early and spend a full day, you can easily hike one or more of the easy trails that are accessible directly from the road, including Avalanche Lake, Hidden Lake, a portion of the Highline Trail, Sun Point Nature Trail, or St. Mary Falls/Virginia Falls (see the hiking section for more information). Even if you don’t do any hiking, stop at the turnouts and overlooks to admire the views and plan to spend some time at the Logan Pass visitor center located about midway along the road.

Two days: If you have just two days, add a visit to the highly scenic Many Glacier area and spend it hiking either the Iceberg Lake or Grinnell Glacier trails, or the valley portion of the Swiftcurrent Pass trail (see the hiking section below). Or enjoy the boat rides on Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes and join the short ranger-led hike to Grinnell Lake. Also spend some time exploring the rustic but magnificent Many Glacier Hotel, known as the “Showplace of the Rockies.”

Three days: If you have a third day, hop down to Two Medicine and explore this beautiful area in the southeast region of the park, including several great hiking trails (see the hiking section below), taking a boat ride or canoeing on Two Medicine Lake, and other activities. Or, as an alternative, take in the sights along Lake McDonald on the park’s western side.

GOING-TO-THE-SUN ROAD AND OTHER TRAVEL-RELATED QUESTIONS

Q. What is the Going-To-The-Sun Road?

A. The spectacular Going-To-The-Sun Road, or the GTTS Road, is the main corridor through Glacier, winding 55 miles between the West Glacier park entrance and the St. Mary entrance on the park’s eastern side. The road reaches its zenith at Logan Pass, some 6,646 feet above sea level. The Logan Pass visitor center is located at the pass and offers numerous exhibits about the park, a gift shop, and restrooms. Note: There is no food or beverage service at the visitor center and no fuel or other vehicle services along the entire length of the road.

Many people consider the GTTS Road to be among the most scenic drives in America. Visitors will pass pristine forests, glacier-fed lakes and streams, tumbling waterfalls, and rugged snow-capped mountain peaks carved by ancient glaciers during the last great ice age.

The road features many turnouts where visitors can stop to take in the views and also offers direct access to a number of Glacier’s hiking trails.

Construction and repair activities typically take place at several points along the road throughout the summer season and may result in minor traffic backups and delays.

Note that vehicles over 25 feet in length (including trailers) are not allowed on much of the GTTS Road, and bicycles are restricted to certain times of the day.

For more information, visit: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/g ... unroad.htm or http://enjoyyourparks.com/GoingToTheSunRoad.html

Q. How can I know the opening date for the GTTS Road in a particular year?

A. The GTTS Road does not open fully each season until it has been cleared of snow, which often measures 40 or more feet in depth in some places. Conditions vary greatly from year to year, making it impossible to predict an opening date with any certainty. Over the past 60 years, the road has opened by June 14 or earlier roughly two out of every three years, although the average opening date from 2004-2011 has been June 23. An all-time late opening date of July 13 was set in 2011. Check http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/r ... status.cfm for updates on GTTS Road plowing, including online photos and videos.

Q. When does the GTTS Road close for the season?

A. The road generally closes in mid or late September depending on weather and construction schedules.

Q. How long does it take to drive the GTTS Road?

A. Allow at least two hours to drive the entire length of the road without stopping. Stops to take in the scenery, vehicle traffic, weather conditions, and construction delays will extend that time.

Q. What’s the closest airport to Glacier?

A. The closest airport is in Kalispell, Montana, located just west of the park. Other airports used by Glacier visitors include Great Falls, Missoula, Spokane, and even Calgary, in Canada.

Q. Is there shuttle service from the Kalispell airport to the park?

A. Shuttle and taxi service from the Kalispell airport are available as far as the western entrance to the park. Commercial transportation services are not allowed to operate within the park. Visit the following site for more information: http://www.glaciertransportation.com/

Q. How long does it take to drive from the Kalispell airport to the park?

A. From the airport to the West Glacier entrance is about 45 minutes. If you’re going all the way to the Many Glacier area on the east side of the park, allow at least three hours.

Q. Can I take the train to Glacier?

A. Yes. Amtrak operates the Empire Builder train which makes stops in both East Glacier and West Glacier. For more information visit: http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentSe ... 7405732511 Rental cars are available in both East Glacier and West Glacier.

Q. Where can I get groceries and other supplies before heading to the park?

A. There is a conveniently-located Super 1 grocery store on U.S. Route 2 in Columbia Falls on the way to the park from the Kalispell airport.

Note: There is a specific “Road Information and Transportation” section on this site at: viewforum.php?f=9m

LODGING

Q. What are the best places to stay in Glacier (inside the park)? What are the lodges like?

A. There is no one best place to stay within Glacier National Park. Where you stay often is dependent on desired proximity to certain areas, the type of facility you’re most interested in, and the activities you’d like to do.

Glacier has several grand and historic old lodges. Each has its own rustic beauty and charm. But don’t come looking for the 21st Century. Such amenities as televisions, air conditioning, internet connections, in-room phones (at some locations), and similar conveniences are absent from the park’s lodges. But who needs such things when you have the beauty and grandeur of Glacier right outside your door?

In addition to the lodges, Glacier offers several smaller overnight facilities. Like the lodges, they overcome their lack of modern conveniences with their spectacular locations.

Following is a brief look at each of the park’s overnight accommodations, in alphabetical order. Additional information on inside-the-park lodging, including reservations, can be found at: http://www.glacierparkinc.com/.:

• Glacier Park Lodge – Located in East Glacier at the southeastern gateway to the park. The lodge is built of old timbers and was completed in 1913. It features a magnificent lobby, on-site dining, a lounge, and a gift shop. The lodge is conveniently located near the Amtrak station. Note: There is no direct access to any park hiking trails from this location. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkLodgeMontana.html

• Lake McDonald Lodge – Located 11 miles from the western entrance to the park along the Going-To-The-Sun Road on the shore of Lake McDonald, the park’s largest body of water. Built in 1913 as a hunting lodge, it includes a beautiful lobby, on-site dining and lounge, a gift shop, a camp store, lake cruises, and nightly ranger talks. Cottage and motel rooms also are available. There is direct and nearby access to a number of hiking trails from this site. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierLakeMcDonaldLodge.html

• Many Glacier Hotel – Located in one of the park’s most scenic settings 12 miles west of the tiny crossroads of Babb on the eastern side of Glacier. Known as the “Showplace of the Rockies,” Many Glacier Hotel is the largest facility in the park and most of its 200+ rooms were renovated in time for the 2012 season. The hotel opened in 1915 and is built in a Swiss chalet design. It features a magnificent lobby with a giant central fireplace. Lakeside rooms and a spacious rear deck offer spectacular views of Swiftcurrent Lake and surrounding mountains. The hotel features on-site dining, a lounge, gift shop, and camp store, along with lake cruises, ranger talks, and nighttime entertainment. There is direct access to a number of great hiking trails, with ranger-led hikes on some trails. Adjacent mountainsides offer direct viewing of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and bears. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/ManyGlacierHotel.html

• Rising Sun Motor Inn – Located on the Going-To-The-Sun Road five miles from the St. Mary entrance on the eastern side of the park. Rising Sun offers individual rooms and duplex-type cottages, along with on-site dining, a gift shop, and a camp store. There is direct access to just one hiking trail, with nearby access to other trails along the GTTS Road.

• St. Mary Lodge & Resort -- Located just outside Glacier’s east entrance at the junction of the GTTS Road and Highway 89. Built in 1978, St. Mary Lodge & Resort’s 115 rooms combine natural beauty with full-service modern comforts. There is no direct access to any park hiking trails from this site, but many trails are reachable within minutes by car or the park’s hiker shuttle.

• Swiftcurrent Motor Inn – Located approximately one mile down the valley from the Many Glacier Hotel. This site features rustic cabins (cold-water sinks, most with no toilets or showers; communal facilities nearby) and old-style motor inn-type rooms with small baths. The inn is nestled in the trees at the base of Mt. Henkel and offers an excellent opportunity to view bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and bears on the mountainside. There is an on-site restaurant, gift shop, and a camp store, along with direct access to a number of great hiking trails, with ranger-led hikes on some trails. This location is a quieter alternative to the more bustling Many Glacier Hotel in the same highly scenic area of the park. The cabins at this location often are fully reserved more than a year in advance. The popular Many Glacier campground is located across the road from the inn and the Many Glacier ranger station and backcountry camping permit office is within easy walking distance. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/ManyGlacierHotel.html (scroll down for Swiftcurrent info).

• Village Inn – Located in Apgar near the western entrance to the park on Lake McDonald and along the Going-To-The-Sun Road. This site features kitchenette and motel-style rooms (36 total); however, there is no on-site dining or direct access to park hiking trails.

Along with the above accommodations, historic backcountry lodging reachable only by hiking trail is available at Granite Park Chalet (http://graniteparkchalet.com/) and Sperry Chalet (http://www.sperrychalet.com/). Advance reservations for both of these sites are required and they fill up quickly. Check the links for more information.

Note: There is a specific “Lodging” section on this site at: viewforum.php?f=19

FOOD AND DINING

Q. What are the best places to eat in and around Glacier?

A. Inside the park – All of the park’s hotels and motor inns (with the exception of the Village Inn) feature sit-down restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, plus lounges (at some sites), snack bars, and camp stores. Restaurant wait times during the peak season can be long.

Note: With the exception of Lake McDonald Lodge on the west end and Rising Sun Motor Inn on the east end, there are no food or other services offered along the Going-To-The-Sun Road, including at the Logan Pass visitor center. Those who plan to spend a day exploring the GTTS Road and its trails are advised to bring their own food and drinks.

Outside the park – On the east side, popular dining spots mentioned most often by visitors to this board include The Cattle Baron in Babb (steaks), Two Sisters Café between Babb and St. Mary (burgers and similar items), Johnson’s (near St. Mary), and the Park Café in St. Mary (known for its homemade pies).

In the East Glacier area, popular restaurants include Serrano’s (Mexican).

One west-side staple is the Polebridge Mercantile, which offers some of the best pastries and sandwiches you will find anywhere.

Customer reviews are available online and at the specific “Restaurant Reviews and Recommendations” section of this site at: viewforum.php?f=25

HIKING

Q. What are the best day hikes in Glacier, especially for first-time visitors?

A. Although the views from Glacier’s roadways and lodges are spectacular, the best way to see much of the park is to take a hike. Glacier’s more than 700 miles of trails vary greatly in terms of length and difficulty, from short and easy strolls to strenuous full-day treks over rugged terrain climbing several thousand feet. Generally there are three types of hikes in Glacier:

• Out-and-back hikes: Hikers travel to a specific destination, such as a scenic lake, and return the way they came.
• Through hikes: Hikers start at one location and finish at another without going over the same ground twice. Through hikes often require transportation planning between the start and end points and the park’s shuttle system simplifies the logistical issues.
• Loop hikes: Circular routes where hikers start and finish at or near the same location.

Among the popular day hikes most often mentioned by people who frequent this board are:

Many Glacier Region (east side)

• Cracker Lake – Out-and-back hike; moderate difficulty; 12.2 miles round trip; climbs 1,120 feet. The deep emerald-green color of Cracker Lake, surrounded by a towering cirque, makes this a truly scenic destination, although much of the hike itself is through view-obscuring forest. The trail offers prime bear habitat, so use standard avoidance precautions (outlined further below). The trail also is heavily traveled by horses, which can make for interesting footwork for hikers. An abandoned mine shaft and mining equipment also can be found at the lake. The trailhead is in the corner of the upper parking lot at Many Glacier Hotel. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkCrackerLake.html

• Grinnell Glacier – Out-and-back hike; moderate difficulty; 11 miles round trip; climbs 1,600 feet. Highly popular and very scenic trail with exceptional views of Mt. Gould, the Garden Wall, Josephine Lake, Grinnell Lake, and the remains of Grinnell Glacier itself. The trail extends through bear and moose territory (use standard bear-avoidance precautions) and includes several waterfalls and abundant wildflowers. Ranger-led hikes to this destination depart from the Many Glacier Hotel, and the trailhead also can be accessed from a picnic area between Many Glacier Hotel and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkGr ... acier.html

• Iceberg Lake – Out-and-back hike; moderate difficulty; 9 miles round trip; climbs 1,200 feet. One of Glacier’s most scenic and popular hikes, Iceberg Lake itself is nestled at the base of a towering cirque with cliffs soaring above on three sides. Large chunks of ice often float in the lake well into the summer, offering a challenge for those wanting to cool off on a hot summer day. Look for sheep, goats, and bears on the way (use standard bear-avoidance precautions), along with brilliant wildflowers. The trailhead is located at the back of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking lot. Ranger-led hikes depart from the motor inn porch many mornings throughout the season. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkIcebergLake.html

• Ptarmigan Tunnel – Out-and-back hike; moderately strenuous; 10 miles round trip; climbs 2,480 feet. This trail shares the first 2.5 miles with the Iceberg Lake trail before branching off to the north just after Ptarmigan Falls. From there, the trail ascends steeply through the forest to the foot of Ptarmigan Lake at the base of a rocky cirque. A short but steep climb takes you to the tunnel, which passes through the solid rock before emerging to an overlook of beautiful Elizabeth Lake and Natoas Peak. For the best views, continue along the rocky trail about a quarter to a half mile. Note: This trail also is part of the North Loop and Red Gap Pass backcountry backpack trips described further below. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkPt ... unnel.html

• Swiftcurrent Valley – Out-and-back hike; easy difficulty; 6.6 miles roundtrip along a valley floor to the base of the headwall that climbs to Swiftcurrent Pass. This mostly-flat hike passes a chain of lakes with mountain peaks soaring above on three sides and plenty of opportunities for viewing wildlife, including moose and bears (use standard bear-avoidance precautions). Beautiful Redrock Lake and the waterfall at its head lie just two miles from the start of the trail and offer a nice rest and turn-around spot for those not wanting to venture all the way to Bullhead Lake at the end of the valley. The trailhead is located at the end of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking lot. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/SwiftcurrentPassTrail.html

Note: Fishercap Lake, located just a quarter-mile from the trailhead, often offers a prime viewing area for moose, deer, and the occasional bear or elk. Look for a small sign on the left of the trail to access the lake.

Two Medicine Region (southeast side)

• Cobalt Lake / Two Medicine Pass – Out-and-back hike; moderate difficulty; 11.4 miles round trip, climbs 1,400 feet (approximately 16 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2,600 feet if continued to Two Medicine Pass). The start of the hike combines forest and flowered meadows with views of Sinopah Mountain and other peaks along the way. Multi-tiered Rockwell Falls is slightly more than halfway to the cobalt-blue lake. After the falls, the trail ascends steeply to the lake and to the pass beyond. The trailhead can be found at the corner of the Two Medicine Lake parking lot. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkTwoMedicine.html

• Dawson Pass-Pitamakin Pass – Loop hike; moderately strenuous in difficulty; 19 miles; climbs 2,935 feet. Popularly known as Daw-Pit, this long but gorgeous day hike can be turned into a one- or two-night backpack trip with a backcountry camping permit. The hike includes stunning views along a rugged and an often blustery four-mile stretch of the Continental Divide (be sure to bring a wind-breaker and warm clothing). Although the loop can be hiked in either direction, doing it counter-clockwise (Pitamakin Pass first) enables weary hikers to shave the final two miles at the end of the day by catching the Two Medicine Lake boat to the parking lot. When going in this direction, the trailhead can be found at the end of the Two Med campground. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkTwoMedicine.html

• Scenic Point – Out-and-back hike; moderately strenuous in difficulty; 6.2 miles round trip; climbs 2,250 feet. The trail ascends steeply through a rocky, arid environment populated by the bleached and twisted remains of wind-torn trees to sweeping vistas above the Two Medicine Valley and the high plains to the east. The trail offers spectacular views of Two Medicine Lake and surrounding peaks. The marked trailhead is on the left side of the Two Medicine Road just before reaching the lake area itself. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkTwoMedicine.html

Logan Pass Area (central region)

• Hidden Lake (at the Logan Pass visitor center) – Out-and-back hike; moderate difficulty; 3 miles round trip to a lake overlook (or 6 miles round trip to the lake itself); climbs 550 feet to the overlook. The hike begins on a boardwalk behind the visitor center then soars through open wildflower meadows to an overlook of Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain. The trail and overlook area often are frequented by mountain goats and bighorn sheep. This is a very popular trail that often remains snow covered through July but is easily followed. Proper footwear is highly recommended when snow is present. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkHi ... Trail.html

• The Highline Trail (at the Logan Pass visitor center) – Out-and-back hike; easy/moderate difficulty. Considered by many to be Glacier’s “signature” trail, the Highline is one of the park’s most scenic hikes. The trail parallels the Continental Divide and the Garden Wall and offers sweeping, spectacular views along its entire length with prime opportunities to see bighorn sheep and mountain goats up close. Many visitors with limited time hike just a portion of the Highline and return to the visitor center. Haystack Butte, a flat-topped ridge easily seen from the start of the hike, is a popular lunch and turnaround spot (6.8 miles round trip).

Note: The first portion of the Highline at Logan Pass, known as the Rimrock area, is an exposed cliff some 200 feet above the GTTS Road. A handrail along the rock wall is provided for those who find this area a bit unnerving. Families with small children should exercise additional caution.

Those who venture all the way to the chalet at Granite Park (7.5 miles one way) can turn the Highline into a through hike by branching off to other trails, including a steep but not particularly scenic descent down the Loop Trail to the GTTS Road (adds 3 miles) or a short ascent to Swiftcurrent Pass followed by a steep and highly scenic 2,300-foot descent into the valley and a flat walk to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking lot in the Many Glacier area (adds 7.5 miles for 15 total miles). Those who elect this popular option often leave a vehicle at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and take advantage of the park’s shuttle systems to reach the trailhead at Logan Pass.

Other Highline Trail options include a short but very steep side hike to an overlook offering outstanding views of Grinnell Glacier and the chain of lakes below it (look for the marked trailhead about one mile before reaching the chalet) and a steep climb to a fire lookout tower above Granite Park Chalet offering an unsurpassed 360-degree view of the park).

More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkHighlineTrail.html

• Piegan Pass – Through hike; moderate difficulty; 12.8 miles; climbs 1,670 feet; descends 2,640 feet. This popular trail links the GTTS Road with the Many Glacier region of the park. After climbing through a dense fir and spruce forest, the trail rises above the tree line and offers tremendous views along a traverse of Cataract Mountain, from the pass itself, and during the descent towards Many Glacier. The trail passes Morning Eagle Falls then re-enters the dense forest (use standard bear-avoidance precautions) and connects to the Grinnell trail network before ending at Many Glacier Hotel. The trailhead is at Siyeh Bend on the GTTS Road three miles east of the Logan Pass visitor center. Those who hike this trail often leave a vehicle at the Many Glacier Hotel or Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and take advantage of the park’s shuttle systems to reach the trailhead. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkPieganPass.html

• Siyeh Pass – Loop-shaped through hike; moderately strenuous in difficulty; 10.3 miles; climbs 2,240 feet; descends 3,440 feet. This hike shares the first 2.7 miles with the Piegan Pass trail before branching off and entering beautiful Preston Park, a meadow area populated by small tarns and abundant wildflowers. The trail then ascends quite steeply before crossing the pass, offering spectacular views of Mt. Siyeh, the St. Mary Valley, peaks along the Continental Divide, and Sexton Glacier. From there, a very scenic but knee-pounding descent includes several dozen steep switchbacks before leveling off. The final portion of the hike descends steeply once again as it passes roaring Baring Creek before exiting on the GTTS Road at Sunrift Gorge. If driving, park at Sunrift Gorge and catch the westbound hiker shuttle to the trailhead at Siyeh Bend three miles east of the Logan Pass visitor center. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkSi ... Trail.html. Note: Deep snow may persist along the trail’s upper elevations until late in the season; consult park rangers before attempting this route.

Lake McDonald Area (west region)

• Apgar Lookout – Out-and-back hike; moderate to moderately difficult; 5.6 miles round trip; climbs 1,835 feet. A short but steep hike to a fire lookout offering outstanding views of Lake McDonald below and the full length of the Livingston mountain range stretching towards the north. The trailhead is located off a roadway halfway between West Glacier and Apgar. The first 0.8 mile of the hike is on an old dirt road, then switches to a trail for the remainder of the continuous climb to the lookout.

• Avalanche Lake – Out-and-back hike; easy difficulty; 4 miles round trip, climbs 500 feet. The trail passes roaring Avalanche Gorge, winds through dense and silent cedar and spruce forest, and ends at scenic Avalanche Lake. The trailhead is on the GTTS Road near Lake McDonald. This is a very popular trail, so start early to avoid crowds and full parking areas. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkTr ... edars.html

Online maps of these and other trails can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/h ... trails.htm

Official information regarding the status of Glacier’s trails can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/t ... eports.htm

Descriptions of ranger-led hikes and activities can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/r ... vities.htm

An excellent all-around trail guide is Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks by Erik Molvar, published by Falcon and available from local bookstores, online, and through the Glacier National Park Conservancy at: http://www.glacierassociation.org/store/.

Other good hiking resources are the Moon handbook to Glacier (http://www.amazon.com/Glacier-National- ... 1598801554) and Vicki Spring’s guide to both Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks (http://www.amazon.com/Glacier-Waterton- ... 089886805X).

Note: There is a specific hiking section on this site at: viewforum.php?f=2

Q. What are some of Glacier’s best short and easy hikes or hikes for families with small children?

A. Among the hikes in this category are:

• St. Mary Falls / Virginia Falls (on the GTTS Road east of Logan Pass) – Out-and back hike; easy difficulty; 2.4 miles round trip to St. Mary Falls, 3.6 miles round trip to Virginia Falls. Passes through forest to two raging waterfalls. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierStMary ... Falls.html

• Sun Point Nature Trail (on the GTTS Road east of Logan Pass) – Easy difficulty; 1.3 miles; starts at Sun Point parking area east of Logan Pass. Views of St. Mary Lake and surrounding peaks with a nice waterfall at the end. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GoingToTheSun ... louts.html

• Swiftcurrent Valley / Bullhead Lake (Many Glacier area) – Out-and-back hike; easy difficulty; 4 miles round trip to Redrock Falls, or 6.6 miles round trip to Bullhead Lake. Mostly flat trail passes a chain of lakes with mountains rising on three sides. Redrock Falls provides a nice resting and/or turnaround point. Look for moose in the lakes and in the brush along this trail and use standard bear-avoidance precautions. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/SwiftcurrentPassTrail.html

• Trail of the Cedars (on the GTTS Road near Lake McDonald) – Boardwalk loop trail (wheelchair accessible); easy; 0.7 mile; at the same starting point as the Avalanche Lake trail. Passes through old-growth cedar forest with lots of ferns, mosses, rock formations, and a view of Avalanche Gorge. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkTr ... edars.html

• Older children may enjoy hikes to such destinations as Avalanche Lake, Hidden Lake, Iceberg Lake, and Grinnell Glacier (see best day hikes).

Q. How does the hiker shuttle work?

A. The National Park Service operates a shuttle system to trailheads along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The shuttle enables hikers to start a hike at one location and complete it at another. The cost to ride the shuttle is included in the park’s entrance fee. Official information can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/shuttles.htm.

In addition, Glacier Park, Inc. (which also operates the park’s lodges) offers a shuttle service from Many Glacier Hotel and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn that connects to the National Park Service shuttle at the St. Mary visitor center. This shuttle tentatively begins daily service on July 1 and ends Labor Day. Fees, schedules, and other information are posted at: http://www.glacierparkinc.com/.

Q. May I hike off the established trails in Glacier?

A. Off-trail hiking is permitted unless an area is posted otherwise. However, those who hike off-trail are encouraged to follow “leave no trace” procedures (http://www.backcountryattitude.com/leave_no_trace.html). It also is advisable to check with park rangers about any restrictions regarding the route you want to hike and to give them an itinerary of your trip in case of an emergency. It should be pointed out that at least two solo hikers have disappeared and died during lengthy off-trail hikes in Glacier over the past several years.

Off-trail hikes discussed frequently on this board include the Dragon’s Tail (an offshoot of the Hidden Lake trail), Shangri-La (accessed from the valley along the Swiftcurrent Pass trail), and Angel Wing (a side hike from the end of the Grinnell Glacier trail to the summit of the nearby Angel Wing outcropping). Each of these can be difficult to locate and follow and can be risky for the inexperienced. Attempt these only when accompanied by others who have done them before. More information on these routes can be found by using the “search” function on this board.

Q. May I hike alone in Glacier?

A. Hiking alone generally is not recommended, especially for first-time visitors or those who have little experience in wilderness areas. Also, hiking in small groups is safer when traveling through bear habitat. As noted above, at least two solo hikers have disappeared and died during lengthy off-trail hikes in Glacier over the past several years.

Q. What does the “initial clearing date” for a trail mean on the National Park Service website for Glacier? Does that mean the trail is closed until that date?

A. An initial clearing date is when a crew is scheduled to inspect a trail for fallen trees, rocks, and other debris after the winter. It does not mean the trail is closed. Check with a ranger for up-to-date information if you are unsure about a trail’s status. For more information, visit the Trail Status Reports at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/t ... eports.htm

Q. Why are some trails in Glacier closed on occasion?

A. Bear activity is the most common reason for closing a trail. The mere presence of a bear on or near a trail doesn’t necessarily mean it will be closed since the bear may just be passing through the area. In those cases, warning signs alerting hikers of nearby bear activity will be posted. However, a trail may be closed for days or weeks at a time if there is an abundant food source causing bears to linger and especially if mothers and cubs are involved. Other reasons for closing a trail may be hazardous snow and ice coverage, flooding, fire hazards, and other safety-related issues. Note that hiking a closed trail can result in severe fines.

Q. Do I need hiking boots on Glacier’s trails?

A. Hiking boots are designed for use over rough terrain and protect the user’s feet against rocks, roots, water, snow, mud, and other common wilderness obstacles. They also provide support that helps avoid ankle twists and sprains. Hiking boots are not necessary on Glacier’s shorter, easier trails but are highly recommended on longer routes covering more rugged ground.

Q. What about trekking poles?

A. Trekking poles are descendants of the common walking stick and resemble ski poles. They are used by hikers to provide rhythm to their walking pace and for added support. They aren’t really necessary on flat, smooth terrain, but on steep, rugged slopes they provide extra stability and can help reduce knee strain. They also can assist when climbing over rocks or boulders, when probing water depth, and to facilitate snow and stream crossings. As with hiking boots, use of trekking poles is a personal decision.

Q. Can I ride a bike on the trails in Glacier?

A. Bicycles, motorized dirt bikes, ATVs, etc. are strictly forbidden on all Glacier hiking trails. Bikes may be ridden only in the campgrounds and along paved roadways. Bikes on the GTTS Road are restricted to certain hours due to heavy vehicle traffic.

Q. Are there toilet facilities on the trails in Glacier?

A. There are primitive toilets on the Grinnell Glacier trail (at the picnic area near the top of the trail), on the Iceberg Lake trail near Ptarmigan Falls, and at Avalanche Lake. Hikers also may use the toilets at Granite Park Chalet and Sperry Chalet. Otherwise, be prepared to use the great outdoors and know how to do so properly using “leave no trace” techniques (http://www.backcountryattitude.com/leave_no_trace.html).

CAMPING

Q. What’s the best campground in Glacier?

A. There are more than a dozen campgrounds in Glacier, varying in size, location, facilities, etc. No one campground is best since each will meet different needs. Detailed information on the park’s campgrounds can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/camping.htm. Other information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/glacierparkca ... _Y2J1.html

Q. By what time of day do the campgrounds usually fill up?

A. Different campgrounds reach capacity at different times depending on the date, location, size, etc. Some campgrounds often fill by noon or even mid-morning during the height of the season. The status of Glacier’s campgrounds can be found at: http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/c ... status.cfm

Q. Can I reserve campsites in advance?

A. Advance reservations may be made only at the St. Mary and Fish Creek campgrounds. All others are first-come, first-served. Information at: http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/c ... status.cfm.

Q. Are pets allowed in Glacier’s campgrounds?

A. Pets are allowed only in campgrounds and on paved roads and may not be left unattended in vehicles or campers. Dogs must be leashed at all times and are not permitted on Glacier’s hiking trails as bears and dogs definitely do not work and play well together (although I have seen a properly-identified service dog on a trail once). More information at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/pets.htm.

Note: There is a specific camping section on this site at: viewforum.php?f=8

BACKPACKING AND BACKCOUNTRY CAMPING

Q. What are the requirements for backcountry backpacking and camping?

A. Glacier offers backcountry camp sites throughout the park. These are the only places where backcountry camping generally is allowed. Overnight camping at these sites requires a Backcountry Use Permit that specifies your itinerary and the camp site(s) to which you and your group are assigned. It must be in your possession and available for inspection by a ranger at all times.

There are two ways to obtain a Backcountry Use Permit: an advance reservation obtained through the park’s lottery system or a walk-up permit obtained in person from one of the park’s backcountry reservation offices.

Advance reservations are issued for approximately half of the campsites at each Glacier backcountry campground. Any reservation made more than one day prior to the start of a backcountry trip is considered an advance reservation and requires a $20 reservation fee. This fee is not charged for reservations made within one day of starting a trip. Advance reservation applications are accepted only for trips that begin between June 15 and October 31.

Q. What are the advance reservation procedures?

A. Advance reservation applications may be submitted by mail or fax starting January 1 of each year. Applications are accepted only on the official form available on the park website at:
http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/u ... cation.pdf

A maximum of two trips may be included on a single form, and each trip may include a first and second choice of itinerary. A trip is defined as an itinerary that enters and then exits the backcountry at a trailhead or developed area.

Assignment of camp sites is made via a lottery that begins on April 15. All applications received by April 15 are randomly sorted before being processed. Applications received after April 15 are processed in the order received. If you want a specific backcountry route on specific dates, it is essential to submit an advance reservation application by April 15 as the number of requests generally exceeds the number of backcountry campsites available for advance reservation.

Once the lottery process is completed (it may take several weeks), you may apply for an advance reservation up to 24 hours before the start of your hoped-for trip. Keep in mind, however, that the most popular sites may already be assigned and you may not get your first choice. As an alternative, you may take advantage of the park’s walk-up permit process outlined below.

Q. What is the procedure for obtaining a walk-up permit?

A. Approximately half of all backcountry camp sites are assigned via the walk-up permit process. Walk-up permits may be obtained in person from any of the backcountry offices listed below. A walk-up permit is issued no earlier than 24 hours before your hoped-for trip. In other words, if you want to start your trip on August 15, you can apply no earlier than August 14. You should plan to be at the office at least one hour before it opens to be first in line for permits issued for the following day. If you're not early, your chances of getting the most popular sites diminish greatly. Some folks recommend using the backcountry office in Apgar on the park’s western edge since that is where the "mother ship" computer is located, but all backcountry offices are tied into the same system.

• Apgar Backcountry Permit Center (open daily from May 1 through October 31)

• Many Glacier Ranger Station (open daily from late May to mid-September)

• St. Mary Visitor Center (open daily from late May through September)

• Two Medicine and Polebridge Ranger Stations (open daily from early June through mid-September)

• Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor Reception Centre (open daily from early June through mid-September)

Q. How can I be sure to get the backcountry trip/route I want?

A. There is no way to ensure that any specific backcountry route or camp site will be available for advance registration or via the walk-up process. You can improve your chances of getting a specific route or campground by planning early and submitting your advance registration application before April 15. You also can increase your chances by indicating flexibility in your application. This may include allowing changes to your requested itinerary, reversing directions on loop or through hikes, and being flexible in terms of the dates you are able to enter and leave the backcountry.

Detailed information on backcountry camping in Glacier can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

Note: There is a specific “Backcountry Permits” section on this site at: viewforum.php?f=10

Q. What are the best backcountry loop hikes in Glacier?

A. Glacier’s backcountry provides a wealth of beautiful trails and backcountry campgrounds allowing for short or long backpacking trips. Since transportation sometimes can be problematic, loop (circular) hikes are popular, though the Glacier trail system does not provide many true loop-hike opportunities. Several of the most popular multi-day loop hikes include:

• The North Loop (Many Glacier area) – This challenging but gorgeous route starts and ends in the Many Glacier region. It follows Swiftcurrent Pass west over the Continental Divide to the Granite Park area, continues north along the spectacular Northern Highline Trail to its intersection with the Stoney Indian Pass Trail, crosses beautiful Stoney Indian Pass, and enters the peaceful Belly River Valley. From there, trails offer two routes back to the Many Glacier area. One takes the Ptarmigan Tunnel into Many Glacier from the north, while the other crosses Red Gap Pass and enters Many Glacier from the east/northeast. This trip generally requires five to seven days, covers 54-62 miles, and rises/falls between 9,800 and 10,600 feet depending on the precise route and direction. The route can be hiked either clockwise or counter-clockwise. More information and photos on the Northern Highline and Fifty Mountain portions of this route at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/glacierparkfiftymountain.html. Information and photos on the Ptarmigan Tunnel portion of the hike at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkPt ... unnel.html

• Red Gap Pass – Ptarmigan Tunnel Loop (Many Glacier area) – At 28 miles, this is a shorter variation of the North Loop and usually includes one night at Poia Lake and another at Elizabeth Lake (foot) as it follows the Red Gap Pass and Ptarmigan Tunnel trails. Most commonly completed as a three-day, two-night trip. More information and photos of the Ptarmigan Tunnel portion of the route at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkPt ... unnel.html

• Dawson Pass / Pitamakan Pass Loop (Two Medicine area) – As previously described in the day hiking section, Daw-Pit is a highly scenic route that can be completed as a long (19-mile) day hike or as a one- or two-night backcountry route with a proper permit. Campsites along this route are at Oldman Lake below Pitamakin Pass and No Name Lake below Dawson Pass. More information and photos at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkTwoMedicine.html

There also are many popular overnight or multi-day backpacking routes that can be turned into loops with one day of backtracking or by using the hiker shuttle.

Q. What about through hikes for backcountry camping?

A. Two of the most popular through hikes for backcountry campers in Glacier are:

• The Northern Traverse – The Northern Traverse is a rugged and strenuous multi-day backpack that roughly parallels the northern edge of Glacier National Park. This route typically begins at the Chief Mountain customs and ranger station in the northeast corner of the park and ends at Kintla Lake in the park’s northwest corner. This highly scenic trek typically requires six to eight days and covers 58 to 66 miles depending on specific route and campsites. Total elevation gain along this route is approximately 10,200 feet and the total elevation loss is approximately 11,660 feet. Several campsites along the western portion of this route often do not open until early August or later due to unsafe snow conditions.

The hike also can be started from the Many Glacier area by going through the Ptarmigan Tunnel or via Lee Ridge and the Gable Pass trail. These two options offer spectacular scenery but also make for a tough first day. From the Lee Ridge trailhead to a first night camp at the foot of Elizabeth Lake a backpacker will climb over 2,450 feet to the intersection with the Gable Pass trail. Then they will descend just over 3,000 feet over the next 3.6 miles to the Belly River Ranger Station. From there, four easy miles in the Belly River Valley will deliver you to the camp at the foot of beautiful Elizabeth Lake.

Starting the Northern Traverse from Chief Mountain eliminates virtually all of the uphill and cuts approximately three miles off the first day’s hike.

Starting from Many Glacier the trail will climb 2,480 feet before reaching the Ptarmigan Tunnel and descending to the foot of Elizabeth Lake, offering spectacular scenery throughout the 10-mile first day. Additional information and photos on the Ptarmigan Tunnel portion of the hike at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkPt ... unnel.html

Note: This route requires extensive transportation planning. Shuttle service is available to the trailhead at Chief Mountain. However, the Kintla Lake exit at the end of the Inside North Fork Road is one of the most remote areas of the park and is not served by any park transportation. Unless pick-up arrangements have been made, it will be necessary to leave a vehicle at the exit before beginning your trip. This process requires two vehicles (one to leave, the other to drive back out) and as much as a full day to accomplish. More information on the Inside North Fork Road at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkNorthForkArea.html

• Gunsight Lake / Lake Ellen Wilson – This popular route begins at the Jackson Glacier overlook on the eastern side of the GTTS Road. It travels southward and includes one night at scenic Gunsight Lake (6.2 miles, climbs 500 feet), a 1,670-foot climb over Gunsight Pass and a steep 1,017-foot descent to the campground at beautiful Lake Ellen Wilson (5.0 miles). From there, the trail climbs 1,120 feet to Lincoln Pass followed by a steep descent past Sperry Chalet and a long forested descent to the GTTS Road directly across from Lake McDonald Lodge (9.1 miles from Lake Ellen Wilson and 3,382 feet total descent from the top of Lincoln Pass). The route covers 20.3 total miles and typically is hiked over three days and two nights (a third night at Sperry Chalet is an option). Ambitious day hikers can complete the entire route in a single long day.

Hikers using this route may leave a car at Jackson Glacier overlook and return to their vehicle via the hiker shuttle from Lake McDonald Lodge.

Worthwhile side hikes along this route include a 3.6-mile round trip visit to Jackson Glacier from the Gunsight Lake campsite and a steep and strenuous 1,600-foot climb from Sperry Chalet to the foot of Sperry Glacier (approximately seven miles round trip).

More information and photos of this route available at: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierParkGunsightPass.html

There are many more backcountry route combinations and camp sites available throughout the park. A map of Glacier’s backcountry trails and camp sites is located at: http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/b ... bcmap.html.

Q. What should I consider before planning a Glacier backcountry trip?

A. The Glacier backcountry can provide a wonderful experience. A successful trip requires knowledge of the potential hazards of traveling on foot in what can be a harsh alpine environment, including camping in grizzly country. It also is important to have a realistic knowledge of your fitness and physical limitations in the mountains. Specific things to keep in mind include:

• The amount of weight you can carry comfortably while backpacking
• The number of miles and how many feet of elevation gain and loss you can cover per day without putting excessive strain on your body
• Your overall backpacking experience, especially in rugged mountainous areas

Answering these questions will help you choose a trip of the appropriate length and difficulty to meet your fitness, strength, and level of experience.

Q. How can I plan a Glacier backcountry trip?

A. Once you’ve reached some basic decisions about how much time you want to spend in the backcountry, how far you want to travel, and how much elevation gain/loss you can handle, the Glacier National Park website provides extensive backcountry planning information. The backcountry campground availability map shows all the backcountry campgrounds and the distances between them. This is the best place to start planning your backcountry trip: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

CLIMBING

Q. Where can I find information about mountain climbing in Glacier?

A. The most well-known and frequently referenced source of climbing information is A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park by J. Gordon Edwards, available from the Glacier National Park Conservancy at: http://www.glacierassociation.org/store/

Additional information is available from the Glacier Mountaineering Society at: http://glaciermountaineers.com/

DRINKING WATER

Q. Is the water in Glacier’s streams and lakes safe to drink?

A. Giardia and other diarrhea-causing organisms may be present in stream and lake water, no matter how fresh and clean the water may appear. When hiking, it is strongly recommended that you carry water from the park’s treated water systems. In the backcountry, boil water or use a filtering system or iodine tablets to purify water.

INSECTS

Q. Are mosquitoes and ticks a problem in Glacier?

A. Mosquitoes, biting flies, and other insects sometimes can be a problem in Glacier. Late June and early July are the prime mosquito periods in the park, although they can be prevalent further into the season. Insect repellent is highly recommended.

Ticks are most active in spring and early summer. Several serious diseases, like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, can be transmitted. Completely remove attached ticks and disinfect the site. Consult a physician if rashes or lesions form around the bite, or if unexplained symptoms occur.

RED BUSES

Q. What are the red buses I’ve heard about?

A. Glacier’s famous fleet of antique, yet fully restored, 1930s red buses have transported visitors throughout the park for many decades. During good weather, the buses’ open-air, roll-back canvas tops provide the ultimate viewing experience on the GTTS Road. The buses link all of Glacier’s lodges and motor inns. Advance reservations are available.

Note: The red buses are tour buses only and are not the same as the hiker shuttles.

More information on red bus tours is available at: http://www.glacierparkinc.com/tour_detail.php?id=1

BOAT TOURS / CANOEING / KAYAKING

Q. Are boat tours, canoeing, or kayaking available in the park?

A. Boat tours are offered on several of the larger lakes in Glacier, including Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Swiftcurrent Lake / Lake Josephine, and Two Medicine Lake. Reservations may be made in advance. Detailed information is available at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/b ... entals.htm

Canoes and kayaks also can be rented at most of these locations. More information is available at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/boating.htm.

HORSEBACK RIDING

Q. Is horseback riding available in the park?

A. Yes. Information on horseback riding is available at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/h ... -rides.htm

PHOTOGRAPHY

Q. Where are the best places to take scenic photos in Glacier?

A. There are an infinite number of places in Glacier to capture memorable photos. No one place is best. Use your imagination and look for scenes that go beyond the typical clichés. An interesting guide book for photographers is The Photographer’s Guide to Glacier National Park by Gordon Sullivan, available online at: http://www.amazon.com/Photographers-Gui ... ional+Park

Q. What camera lenses are best in Glacier?

A. If you own a camera with interchangeable lenses, a wide-angle to short telephoto lens is handy for landscapes, flowers, etc. A longer telephoto is useful for capturing wildlife.

Note: There is a specific section on this site devoted to photography at: viewforum.php?f=4

WILDLIFE

Q. What are the best places for viewing / photographing wildlife in Glacier?

A. Wildlife is abundant throughout Glacier. Mountain goats and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are found throughout the park and frequently can be seen around the Logan Pass visitor center and on the trails branching out from there (the Highline and Hidden Lake trails, among others). The Many Glacier area also features many goats and sheep, as well as bears. A popular wildlife viewing spot is the parking lot of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in the Many Glacier area. Goats, sheep, and bears often can be observed feeding on the adjacent mountainside, especially in the early mornings, late afternoons, and early evenings.

Moose can be found in the Many Glacier region (Swiftcurrent and Grinnell areas) and along Reynolds Creek in the lower section of the Gunsight Pass trail. Mule and white tail deer can be found in many areas of the park, and elk sometimes can be seen in the Two Dog Flats area near the St. Mary entrance.

Black and grizzly bears make their homes throughout Glacier. Trails often are posted to alert hikers of nearby bear activity and may be closed at times when bears are feeding in the immediate vicinity. Bears should be treated with the utmost caution and respect, and all Glacier visitors are urged to become familiar with park guidelines regarding these wonderful creatures. More information regarding bear safety can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/bears.htm

Smaller mammals, such as marmots, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and pikas are common sights along many of Glacier’s trails.

Never feed any wild animal and never approach a wild animal in the hope of getting a better photo. Not only will you disturb its natural behavior, you could provoke an attack. Better to photograph from a safe distance using a telephoto lens.

More information regarding wildlife safety in Glacier can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/w ... safety.htm

Q. What should I know about traveling safely in grizzly country?

A. The safest way to travel in bear country is to make sure you don’t surprise a bear. Bears usually will move out of the way if they hear people approaching, so make noise. Hiking quietly endangers you, the bear, and other hikers. Most so-called “bear bells” are not loud enough for bears to hear at a safe distance. Calling out and clapping hands loudly at regular intervals are better ways to make your presence known. If you do encounter a bear, avoid eye contact and move slowly away without turning your back, and minimize your profile by turning to your side. Most bear attacks are defensive, so the less threat the bear perceives in you, the less likely it is to attack.

In camp, the most important measures for avoiding bear encounters involve explicitly following the camping rules. This means, among other things, never leaving food, drinks, scraps, containers, utensils, etc. unattended in any park campground.

In the backcountry, use the hanging poles or bear-proof storage containers provided at each campsite to keep all food and toiletries out of the reach of bears. Never keep food or odorous toiletries inside or adjacent to your tent. Cooking and eating only in the food-prep area provided in each camp, and not sleeping in the clothes you cooked or ate in, will help ensure that you do not take food odors into your tent at night. You also should pack out all trash and never put any trash or food scraps into the pit toilets provided at backcountry campsites.

If you follow these guidelines, you will be unlikely to have any close encounters with bears. But your experience will be heightened just knowing that you are sharing the wilderness with grizzlies.

More information regarding bear safety can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/bears.htm

Q. Should I carry bear spray when hiking in Glacier?

A. Many hikers carry bear spray (an irritant similar to pepper spray) when hiking in Glacier, but the overwhelming majority never need to use it. The choice is yours. Bear spray is a last resort that is effective only at very close range. A much better and safer defensive measure is to avoid a bear encounter in the first place (see above).

Bear spray can be purchased in park camp stores and at retail outlets outside the park. Federal regulations prohibit carrying bear spray on airliners, including in checked baggage. Some visitors donate unused bear spray at ranger stations for use by park rangers and trail crews, or simply give it to other hikers before leaving the park.

SHOWERS / LAUNDRY

Q. Are public showers available in Glacier?

A. Public showers are available within the park at Rising Sun on the GTTS Road, at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in the Many Glacier area, and the Fish Creek campground on the west side of the park. Tokens to operate the showers are available for purchase at each location.

Q. Are public laundry facilities available in Glacier?

A. A public laundry is located at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.

CELL PHONES / WI-FI SERVICE

Q. Can I get cell phone service in Glacier?

A. Cell phone reception within Glacier mostly is non-existent, so it’s best not to count on it. Areas immediately outside the park sometimes offer better luck depending on your exact location and your carrier company. But even then, cell phone reception can be hit-or-miss. Pay phones are available at the lodges and some campgrounds in the park.

Q. Can I get wi-fi / internet service in Glacier?

A. Internet service generally is not available to park visitors. However, on April 18, 2013, the National Park Service issued a permit to deploy broadband service to the St. Mary area on the eastern edge of the park. There is no set date for completion of this project.

VISITING CANADA

Q. Should I plan a visit to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada as part of my Glacier visit?

A. If this is your first trip to Glacier and you have only a few days to spend, or if it’s primarily a hiking trip, I’d recommend skipping Waterton until your next visit. However, if your trip is primarily by car with little or no hiking planned, a side trip to Waterton might be a nice addition.

Q. Do I need a passport to visit Canada as part of my visit to Glacier?

A. Passports are required for all persons crossing the border between the U.S. and Canada.

For hiking entry into Glacier via Goat Haunt (a Class B port of entry), U.S. and Canadian citizens must present a passport, U.S. passport card, enhanced driver license, or NEXUS card. U.S. resident aliens must present a U.S. Resident Alien Card. Citizens from countries other than Canada or the U.S. must present a valid passport and a current I-94 or an I-94W available at U.S. Class A Ports of Entry. (Call the local border/customs office if you have questions - 406 732-5572, Babb, MT).

Note: There is a specific section on this site devoted to Waterton Lakes National Park at: viewforum.php?f=39

OTHER RESOURCES

Websites

• National Park Service website for Glacier: http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm

• Glacier concession services (lodging, tours, transportation, employment, etc.): http://www.glacierparkinc.com/

• Glacier Natural Park Conservancy: http://www.glacierassociation.org/store/

• EnjoyYourParks.com: http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierNationalPark.html

• Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada): http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/waterton/index.aspx

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Other Resources

Websites
· National Park Service website for Glacier: http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm

· Glacier concession services (lodging, tours, transportation, employment, etc.): http://www.glacierparkinc.com/

· Glacier Natural History Association: http://www.glacierassociation.org/store/

· Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada): http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/waterton/index.aspx

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Last edited by daveparker on Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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