No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Let everyone know about your camping experience in the park.

Moderators: Kathy, Tara

No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby austinpropst » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:43 am

I do not have campground reservations. I would like to stay in 2-3 different sections of the park (Waterton is certainly on the table)

1. What are the most likely campgrounds to be guaranteed a site w/o a reservation?
2. Do you have a favorite (and/or a least)? Why?
3. At what time do they fill/when should I set out to find a site at the given campgrounds?
4. Favorite/never miss the opportunity at Glacier NP!?

(My spouse and I will be there from Aug 22-26)

Thanks! -Austin
austinpropst
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:46 am

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby toddnick » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:07 am

This link tells you the fill times of each of the campgrounds...though they aren't totally accurate.

If you click on each campground it will show you historical fill times for every month the last several years...

https://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/ ... status.cfm

For instance at Many Glacier cars form a line just at the entrance to the campground; first arrivals are generally about 5am, from what I've heard there are generally 25-30 cars in line by 7am...at 7am the ranger starts with the first car in line and offers them the sites that will be available that day...then move on to the second car...until they fill all the sites (generally around 20 are open each day)...

So Many Glacier actually is filled by a car waiting sometime between 5 and 7am...

I think the rest of the campgrounds are pretty accurate (Many Glacier is the zoo)...

Remember Rule #1 - that most of the best hiking trails are on the East side and at Logan Pass; so if you are a hiker I'd plan on at least 75% of your time based on the East side...this year for me will be 11 nights East side, 2 nights West side, and 3 nights at Sperry Chalet (in the backcountry)...

My favorites:

1. Many Glacier: I have spent 87 out of 149 nights at Glacier in the last decade here...I'm planning on spending 9 of 16 nights at MG Campground on my trip to Glacier this September...my favorite place....mountain scenery, hiking, showers, camp store, restaurant, wildlife...this place has it all...
2. Rising Sun: Excellent location to the hiking trails on the east side and Logan Pass, plus there are some really nice sites as well...mountain scenery (though not as good as MG), showers, camp store, restaurant...
3. Two Medicine: Location is a little more remote to the rest of the Park; nice sites here as well...mountain scenery, hiking, camp store...
4. Bowman Lake: If you want to get off the beaten path, this place is spectacular...mountain scenery, hiking...
5. Apgar: Very convenient to things on the West side...nice pine forest sites...near restaurants, shopping, biking trails...
toddnick
Donator
Donator
 
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 6:52 am
Location: Buffalo, New York

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby PeteE » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:45 am

austinpropst wrote:I do not have campground reservations. I would like to stay in 2-3 different sections of the park (Waterton is certainly on the table)

1. What are the most likely campgrounds to be guaranteed a site w/o a reservation?
To be guaranteed? This year, the way things are going---NONE in my opinion

2. Do you have a favorite (and/or a least)? Why?
I've always liked Rising Sun because of it's central location to hiking on the East Side. Many Glacier is nice, but the past couple years it has been simply crazy busy and crowded. It's also a long drive to any hiking other than that in Many Glacier. I was there yesterday evening and cars were still parked all up and down the road in places. The other day they were stopping cars at the Many Glacier park entrance. Only those with reservation were being let in.

3. At what time do they fill/when should I set out to find a site at the given campgrounds?
If your going to try for Many Glacier CG, 0430 as absurd as that sounds, would be my suggestion. A GMS member from out of town told me yesterday that at 0700 there were 37 cars in line when the Ranger came out to issue 18 permits. They went to Johnson's CG in St Mary.

4. Favorite/never miss the opportunity at Glacier NP!?
The hikes that imo that will leave a last impression on a new visitor are these:
1.The Highline out to Granite Park Chalet...then back to Swiftcurrent. (AKA The HockeyRef hike)
2. Siyeh Pass and Piegan Pass in the St Mary Valley
3. Iceberg Lake in Many Glacier
4. Grinnell Glacier in Many Glacier
5. Dawson-Pitamakan loop in Two Medicine



(My spouse and I will be there from Aug 22-26)

Thanks! -Austin


Your welcome Austin. I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but this year is incredibly busy. The "competition" for camping spots is fierce to say the least. Fights have occurred over parking spaces at the Logan Pass parking lot. If you luck out and get a spot at Rising Sun(my choice) or Many Glacier...I would stay there and do day trips to your hikes. Otherwise you're going to be spending an excessive amount of time moving from one spot to another very early in the mornings. And remember that EVERY parking lot at places of interest is filling early. So get up early and get going whatever you're doing.

pete :wink:
PeteE
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:20 pm

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby NDjason » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:28 pm

Hopefully by late August, the worst of the park congestion will be over. Definitely watch the fill times in the weeks leading up to it. I think there are still some advance reservations sites at Fish Creek available... I ended up booking sites there as a backup if we're unable to get in where we'd like. In my mind, the fee is worth the piece of mind of having something to fall back on!
~ jason
User avatar
NDjason
Donator
Donator
 
Posts: 520
Joined: Mon May 21, 2007 11:20 am
Location: Houston, TX

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby teapot57 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:21 pm

Keep checking recreation.gov for cancellations at Fish Creek, St Mary, and Many Glacier. Cancellations happen so it's not too late to get a reserved site, but you have to be diligent about checking (often throughout the day) as well as patient.
teapot57
 
Posts: 527
Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 3:59 pm
Location: Calgary, AB

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby teapot57 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:51 pm

There are openings right now at St Mary over your dates.
teapot57
 
Posts: 527
Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 3:59 pm
Location: Calgary, AB

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby austinpropst » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:16 am

Thank folks for your insight. I was able to at least get one site reserved at Fish Creek for our first night, so that offers a lot of peace of mind. I'm hoping we can score a spot at Rising Sun for the rest of our time at the park (or at lease something central). If not, I guess we'll venture to less crowded parts of the park towards Bowman. I think we'll avoid the crowds at Many, etc.
austinpropst
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:46 am

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby Selkie » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:38 am

austinpropst wrote:Thank folks for your insight. I was able to at least get one site reserved at Fish Creek for our first night, so that offers a lot of peace of mind. I'm hoping we can score a spot at Rising Sun for the rest of our time at the park (or at lease something central). If not, I guess we'll venture to less crowded parts of the park towards Bowman. I think we'll avoid the crowds at Many, etc.


At the risk of sounding like a negative Nelly, this year there is *no* uncrowded part of the Park. Please scroll through Glacier's Twitter feed:
https://twitter.com/glaciernps
and you will see that most days cars can't even get close to Bowman or Kintla by 10 a.m.
The probability of scoring a spot at Rising Sun is nonzero but may as well be zero.

For your own sanity, keep checking for cancellations and openings at St Mary or Many Glacier, if you want to be on that side of the Park. Johnson's or the KOA, both in St Mary, are other options but likely are full as well. Thronson's, in Babb, is a possibility.

Right across the street from Glacier on the East side are campgrounds such as Summit and Devil's Creek that have some reservable spots. The BLM manages several sites on the West side, not in Glacier proper.

There are some private places in Polebridge.

This year it would be significantly better to have places nailed down in advance than to hope for first come, first served spots.
Selkie
Donator
Donator
 
Posts: 1164
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:17 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby austinpropst » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:29 am

Selkie wrote:
austinpropst wrote:Thank folks for your insight. I was able to at least get one site reserved at Fish Creek for our first night, so that offers a lot of peace of mind. I'm hoping we can score a spot at Rising Sun for the rest of our time at the park (or at lease something central). If not, I guess we'll venture to less crowded parts of the park towards Bowman. I think we'll avoid the crowds at Many, etc.


At the risk of sounding like a negative Nelly, this year there is *no* uncrowded part of the Park. Please scroll through Glacier's Twitter feed:
https://twitter.com/glaciernps
and you will see that most days cars can't even get close to Bowman or Kintla by 10 a.m.
The probability of scoring a spot at Rising Sun is nonzero but may as well be zero.

For your own sanity, keep checking for cancellations and openings at St Mary or Many Glacier, if you want to be on that side of the Park. Johnson's or the KOA, both in St Mary, are other options but likely are full as well. Thronson's, in Babb, is a possibility.

Right across the street from Glacier on the East side are campgrounds such as Summit and Devil's Creek that have some reservable spots. The BLM manages several sites on the West side, not in Glacier proper.

There are some private places in Polebridge.

This year it would be significantly better to have places nailed down in advance than to hope for first come, first served spots.



This is nuts! Thanks for the heads up by checking the Twitter feed. I thought Yellowstone was bad for traffic, but Glacier seems worse. Honestly, how does one even enjoy the park if it appears that the traffic is worse than rush hour in LA? And parking anywhere seems almost impossible? Bummer. I'm still hopeful that since school will of started for most by the time we get there, the park will be a bit more manageable.
austinpropst
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:46 am

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby paul » Mon Aug 07, 2017 11:40 am

I agree it's really hard to enjoy Glacier's majesty and nature when you have to sit in traffic, compete for parking, and hike on trails filled with people. Not long ago (maybe 5-10 years) things were completely different. I long for those days. After, this year's trip I think I'll find some other places to hike and camp.
We are in the mountains and the mountains are in us. - John Muir
User avatar
paul
Donator
Donator
 
Posts: 1218
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:42 pm
Location: MA

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby PeteE » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:53 pm

I just got back from a weekend on the East side. Its INSANE over there. Stayed at Johnson's sharing ND's sight. Johnson's has been filling lately...Saturdayfilled by late afternoon.

Sunday we got to Swiftcurrent about 0630 for breakfast and hike Grinnell glacier. Cars were lined up from the CG gate to the beginning of of the parking lot for the Inn :shock: over 40 cars.
Glacier Jim and his wife arrived at the CG at 0430 and were 3rd in line, but got a site on Saturday. :shock:
This morning I stopped at 0700 at Rising Sun to get coffee.
Drove by the CG at 0715. Looked like 20-25 cars in line for a spot. Insane.
If you plan on getting a campsite in the park(or anywhere ) this month, you get out there early, very early.
pete :wink:
PeteE
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:20 pm

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby austinpropst » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:26 am

PeteE wrote:I just got back from a weekend on the East side. Its INSANE over there. Stayed at Johnson's sharing ND's sight. Johnson's has been filling lately...Saturdayfilled by late afternoon.

Sunday we got to Swiftcurrent about 0630 for breakfast and hike Grinnell glacier. Cars were lined up from the CG gate to the beginning of of the parking lot for the Inn :shock: over 40 cars.
Glacier Jim and his wife arrived at the CG at 0430 and were 3rd in line, but got a site on Saturday. :shock:
This morning I stopped at 0700 at Rising Sun to get coffee.
Drove by the CG at 0715. Looked like 20-25 cars in line for a spot. Insane.
If you plan on getting a campsite in the park(or anywhere ) this month, you get out there early, very early.
pete :wink:


What do you think...better to try for Rising Sun in the early morning or just head to the remote Westside CG of Bowman and/or Kintla? The fill times in the remote sites appear to be much later on any giving day (https://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/ ... status.cfm). What's the average drive time from Bowman/Kintla to East Glacier/Logan Pass/Etc?
austinpropst
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:46 am

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby toddnick » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:37 am

Absolutely Rising Sun; Bowman is too remote to be a home base for the bulk of your trip.

Just get there extra early; it only requires sacrifice one morning and will yield you a great home base for several days.

I plan on getting to Many Glacier Campground at 4:30am to get a campsite and that is in mid-September.

I have no problem getting up at 4am if it secures me the home bast that I want for several days.
toddnick
Donator
Donator
 
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 6:52 am
Location: Buffalo, New York

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby PeteE » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:54 am

austinpropst wrote:
PeteE wrote:I just got back from a weekend on the East side. Its INSANE over there. Stayed at Johnson's sharing ND's sight. Johnson's has been filling lately...Saturdayfilled by late afternoon.

Sunday we got to Swiftcurrent about 0630 for breakfast and hike Grinnell glacier. Cars were lined up from the CG gate to the beginning of of the parking lot for the Inn :shock: over 40 cars.
Glacier Jim and his wife arrived at the CG at 0430 and were 3rd in line, but got a site on Saturday. :shock:
This morning I stopped at 0700 at Rising Sun to get coffee.
Drove by the CG at 0715. Looked like 20-25 cars in line for a spot. Insane.
If you plan on getting a campsite in the park(or anywhere ) this month, you get out there early, very early.
pete :wink:


What do you think...better to try for Rising Sun in the early morning or just head to the remote Westside CG of Bowman and/or Kintla? The fill times in the remote sites appear to be much later on any giving day (https://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/ ... status.cfm). What's the average drive time from Bowman/Kintla to East Glacier/Logan Pass/Etc?


The drive time from Kintla to Apgar/West Glacier is about 90 minutes--on a good day.
Bowman to Apgar/West Glacier is about an hour.
Then from Apgar to Logan via the GTTS road is about an hour on a weekend morning.
If traveling on a weekday morning after 0700--it'll be longer depending on construction delays.
Logan to St Mary is about 30 minutes.
Logan to Many Glacier is about 1 hour---a little longer to East Glacier.
It's 2-3 hours+ to anywhere from Bowman/Kintla--on a good day--and there won't be any good days anytime soon imo.

So commuting to anywhere from Bowman or Kintla is a bad idea in my opinion.

If you decide to try for Rising Sun, I would bite the bullet, and get there no later than 0400-0430.
Nap or read in your car, hopefully get a spot, and STAY THERE, for the duration of your visit.
Commute from Rising Sun to wherever you're going to be hiking.
Rising Sun is the best place to camp in the park for hikers. It's centrally located for anything on the East side, including Logan Pass.
Johnson's and KOA in St Mary are alternatives just outside the gate at St Mary.

pete :wink:

PS

I would NOT read too much into those "fill times".
ALL the popular campgrounds are essentially full at 0700 because they all have lines in the morning.
The "FULL" signs almost never get taken down.
PeteE
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:20 pm

Re: No Reservation - Best First Come Sites?

Postby austinpropst » Wed Aug 16, 2017 10:06 am

Scored! Got three nights at St. Mary! That's a burden off my shoulders. I feel I can enjoy the park more now that I have a reserved site to lie my head each night.
austinpropst
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:46 am

Next

Return to Camping

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest