Glacier National Park,
Glacier National Park is in
the northwest corner of Montana, just over 30 miles from Kalispell.
The park is open all year BUT, this is snow country. Be prepared.
The famous "Going To The Sun Road" runs through the center of the park from
Glacier entrance, northeast of Whitefish, to the intersection with
Hwy 89 at St. Mary on the east side of the park. From there you can
head south on Hwy 89 to Hwy 49 (Looking Glass Hill Road) to East
Glacier Park Village and the east park entrance, then back onto Hwy
2 for the remainder of your round trip back to West Glacier, Hungry
Horse, Columbia Falls, then Hwy 93 back to Kalispell.
Going To The Sun Road is only open in the summer after the Park
Service gets the snow cleared. Every year is a different schedule
for opening depending on the amount of snow that dumped over the
winter. Don't expect the road to be open before early June. In 2011
the opening date was delayed until July 13th due to extreme snowpack
and a cool spring! Also be prepared for traffic delays due to the
ongoing reconstruction of the road. You can get all the details on
road opening and construction delays on the
National Park Service website.
Logan pass is probably the
most popular destination in the park. At 6646 feet in elevation it's
about the half way point between East and West Glacier, where the
road crosses the Continental Divide. If you plan to visit Logan Pass
in the busy summer months be prepared to "haggle" for a parking spot
any time after about 9:00 AM. Since we visited after Labor Day
weekend and were on a motorcycle parking was a lot easier.
All the pictures on this page were taken on our trip from Kalispell
out Hwy 2 to East Glacier, through the park and
back around. We decided to do the trip in reverse, next time we'll
enter the park at West Glacier like most people to get a whole
different experience. By the way, we rode the trip on our Harley.
There are vehicle size restrictions for width, height and length.
Our truck and camper were too large in all those dimensions!. Almost
any RV will not meet the size restrictions so be prepared for some
other type of travel. The Park Service runs free shuttles for those
that have no other option.
If you're willing to spend a
little money you can take one of the "Red Bus" tours. There is a
fleet of these old school, open top, 17 passenger vehicles that tour
the park on different routes. If you like nostalgia, this might be
for you. The busses were built starting in 1936 but were upgraded
starting in 2000 with a modern chassis & power train, 4 wheel ABS
disc brakes, better suspension and nicer seating. The tours aren't
cheap but we've heard it's something you'll remember the rest of
Something even a little more
unusual would be a guided boat tour. There are sightseeing trips
available on 5 of the lakes. The lake boats are from the 30s also so
this might be a real treat. We hope to have the time to try it on
our next trip. The trips range from under an hour to about 3.5 hours
so you don't need to use up a whole day. Or you can rent a small
boat ranging from a canoe to a small rowing skiff with an electric
or gas motor. As with anything "touristy" expect to spend a little
money on this luxury.
We saw at least a couple RV parks along the route back from East
Glacier to Kalispell, and plenty more in the small towns in the
area, including Whitefish. You shouldn't have any trouble finding a
place to stay in your RV.
Our RV park of choice is Rocky Mountain Hi Campground (really an RV
park) just east of Kalispell. It was pretty clean, decent bathrooms,
very nice people and a great view of the mountains. It's about 5
miles out of Kalispell, just off Hwy 2 in a quiet area so you aren't
listening to traffic. We were given one of the smaller spots because
our camper and trailer setup is only about 40 ft. long. Even with
the smaller spot we had plenty of room to unload and load our
motorcycle and park it to the side of the trailer. If you have a
large setup there are plenty of long back ins and pull throughs.
If you need to stay in a motel/hotel be prepared for relatively high
room rates for what you get. You might also want to consider making
reservations well in advance. Glacier Park is spectacular and super
popular, and along with all the other recreational opportunities
(did I mention Flathead Lake?) makes the area very crowded in the
summer months. We've made several trips to the area over the years
because I actually grew up in Kalispell back in the 50s. Every motel
we've stayed in has been overpriced (our opinion) and not so nice
for the money! That's why we have an RV now.
Keep in mind, there is NO GAS available in the park so fill up
before entering. It's about 50 miles from East to West Glacier and
with a few side trips you could easily put on 150 miles in the park.