Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Transportation can be a challenge in Glacier. If you have ideas, offer ride shares, or used a commercial service that you were happy with, let everyone know. Also, ask questions about road information, or share road information you may have.

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Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby KizzleBits » Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:56 pm

My wife and I are doing a 5-night backcountry trip that starts in Many Glacier. Our campsite is a solid 10-mile hike away, so we want to get as early of a start as we can.

We're lodging in Whitefish the night before and will not be renting a car. Our plan for getting to Many Glacier is pretty convoluted, and I'm wondering if there's a better way to go about it. Here's the current plan:

1. 6am - take Arrow Shuttle from Whitefish hotel to Apgar park entrance.
2. 8am - Get on the 8am express park shuttle that goes directly to Logan's Pass without stopping.
3. Switch shuttles at Logan's Pass and ride to St. Mary's.
4. 10am - Catch the 10am hiker's shuttle from St. Mary's to Many Glacier
5. 11am-ish - Arrive at Many Glacier and go to Ranger's Station to watch bear vid and then get goin'!

There's lots of hopping from one mode of transportation to the next. I couldn't find a more efficient route, but figured I'd poke around and see if anyone had a better idea. If not, then all's well!
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby al_in_al » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:32 am

In my opinion, that's a VERY tight schedule.

2 hours to shuttle from Apgar to St. Mary might happen if your timing is perfect. The park says it takes 1.5-2 hrs to travel from Apgar to Logan, and 1 hr to travel from Logan to St. Mary. You will save some time if you get on the limited-stop shuttle at 8 (my understanding is the direct shuttle ends at 7:56, and then there is the limited-stop shuttle until 9), but you still have to get on a shuttle right away and not wait in line (if the shuttle doesn't make a transfer stop at Avalanche, it will be one of the smaller ones). And transfer time at Logan Pass can vary.

A more efficient route would involve renting a car. If you can't do that, you might be able to find a private driver from Whitefish to Many Glacier. Hitchhiking is also an option - though having limited time doesn't help.
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby Ear Mountain » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:11 am

First thing I suggest is picking up your permit the day before you start your backpack. Then find lodging or camp as close to the trailhead as possible. Traveling from Whitefish to Many Glacier may take A LOT LONGER than you expect.
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby orin » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:14 am

What they said. In addition make sure you know exactly what "Apgar park entrance" means. Does the shuttle drop you off at the Apgar visitor center/transit center where you catch the park shuttle or does it drop you off at the park entrance which is 2 miles away? Some of these services don't have permission to actually enter the park. Also the early shuttles fill up fast. If you arrive 5 minutes before departure you may not get on.
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby KizzleBits » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:12 pm

Yikes, glad I asked about this. I didn't know that some vehicles may not be able to drop off at the transit center. I'll have to check on that (we planned to use Arrow Shuttle).

I also didn't know that the express shuttle to Logan started at 7am. We made this itinerary a few months ago and I think I had old or bad data. If we were to arrive at the transit center at, say, 630-645am, does anyone know if there tends to be lines? Would we have a good chance of getting on the express?

One reason we didn't want to rent a car is because we were worried about both paying for a rental for 6 days and only using it for 2. I can live with the price if the above plan without a car is too dicey, but if we do rent a car should I be concerned about leaving the car unattended in a Glacier lot for so long?

If it's okay to leave the rental while we camp, any recommendations on parking? We start at Many Glacier but end at Trail Loop, so no matter where we park we'd have to do some hiking/shuttling to get back to it.

Sorry for the deluge of questions. Thanks for all the helpful advice!
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby orin » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:33 pm

You can leave a car at either the Loop or at Many Glacier for as long as you need to. The parking at the Loop is quite limited however and if you get there in the middle of the day you might need to hang out waiting for a spot to open up. Parking at Many is not so tight although these days it is hard to say for sure. My personal preference is to leave the car at the end of the trip and shuttle to the start but that can depend on circumstances. By the way, you can watch the bear vid on the internet before you leave home which streamlines permit pickup.
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby joybird » Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:38 pm

When are you arriving in the Glacier area? Would it be possible for you to switch your night in Whitefish to a night, say, at Johnson's campground in St. Mary? That way, you could take your time shuttling over to the East Side of the park and pick up your permit the day before at the same time. It would eliminate a WHOLE LOT of travel stress on the day you will be starting your actual backpack.

It's an easy walk from Johnson's to the St. Mary Visitor Center where you could pick up the paid shuttle (with a pre-reserved spot!) to get to Many Glacier. And Johnson's takes reservations for campsites. And they have a decent restaurant to eat at too!
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby tibber » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:39 pm

orin wrote:By the way, you can watch the bear vid on the internet before you leave home which streamlines permit pickup.
don't they make you watch it before they'll give you the permit? They made us watch it last year.

Sadly, a lot of us end up renting cars that end up parked for most of their stay in the park. It's the price of doing business so to speak.

The other option I was thinking of was to take the train from Wfish to EGlacier but I don't know that it would be of that much help logistically and based on train time either.
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby MarxMN » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:38 am

Also of concern - there is some construction on Going to the Sun Road. I don't know what that schedule is but it could slow down the shuttle. If there was any way for you to stay in the St. Mary area the night before you start out you would have a much better situation.
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby orin » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:26 am

don't they make you watch it before they'll give you the permit?


I suppose it depends somewhat on the ranger and the applicant. I proactively tell them I watched it and when. Sometimes they ask "What is the first thing you should do when you get to camp?" or something similar but I haven't had to watch the vid at the permit desk recently.
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Re: Getting from Whitefish to Many Glacier

Postby PeteE » Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:27 pm

Maybe I'm beating a dead horse...
Sitting here in the lobby, I just talked the Swiftcurrent desk about shuttle reservations.

The shuttle DOES NOT take reservations anymore.

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