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Glacier National Park in mid-July--Suggested Things to Do?

HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 33,117 Senior Member
Hi! H and I and another couple will be in Glacier for about a week in Mid July. Does anyone have suggestions of things we really ought to do while there? Thanks! We're capable of walking on level ground for several hours with no problems, not ultra-hikers or ultra-marathoners. I've read that no motorized boats are available due to invasive mussels. :(

Replies to: Glacier National Park in mid-July--Suggested Things to Do?

  • LeastComplicatedLeastComplicated Registered User Posts: 985 Member
    My DH works for the NPS and we've been to Glacier a few times. It is incredibly gorgeous. Driving the Going to the Sun Road is a must. The traffic can be bad, but the scenery is well worth it. However, when we last visited (in mid July) it wasn't accessible due to snow. I looked at the park website and it said that the middle portion of the Going To the Sun Road is currently inaccessible due to snow plowing (but is open for a few miles on both the western and eastern ends) . So this week it is impossible to drive thru the park on this road (but you can go around on the state hwy on the southern boundary to get to the other side of the park. In a couple of weeks it might be driveable. You'll just have to check on the website for current road conditions https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/gtsrinfo.htm

    As for hiking, I'd just look up the hiking section (in the things to do tab https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/hikingthetrails.htm) it gives you the altitude climbed on the trails in different sections in the park for day hikes. They range from level to climbing several thousand feet. We've found that the NPS staff in each of the three visitor centers are very helpful for recommending good trails (and other activities) based on what you're specifically looking for or for the limitations of people within your group.

    We usually do a variety of things on our park visits. We'll do a hike on our own, maybe catch a ranger talk or tour (they should have a schedule of ranger activities when you arrive or see my link below), and then we usually do some type of guided (not free) activity like a boat tour, raft trip (water is very cold), horseback ride (my daughter's birthday present - a tree fell in the woods and spooked us and most of the horses! - but we survived!).

    If you like photography, you will be in paradise.

    The "Plan your Visit" tab has info on what to see and do and lots of info about each option and the link below has the calendar for July activities).

    https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/upload/July-RLA-2017-web.pdf (ranger led activities at all three visitor centers during July)
    https://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/inforequest/inforequest3.cfm (Park Publications - various info on just about everything Park related, including bird and mammal lists if you're into birds and wildlife - we like to keep track of what we see)

    I think the boat restriction applies to private motorized boats. You can go on a guided boat tour or rent boats at the park. I think you can also bring your own non motorized boats, but they have to be inspected. The website made it sound like the inspection process could be a pain.

    Finally, Glacier is definitely Grizzly habitat so I would bring or purchase bear spray.

    Sorry I can't recommend anything specific, but the place is so beautiful, I don't think you can go wrong with whatever you choose to do. Be prepared for a lot of driving if you want to see all the main areas of the park.
  • MagnetronMagnetron Registered User Posts: 2,590 Senior Member
    The sights are not super accessible the way they are in Yellowstone. Here are some highlights without too much walking.

    1. Drive the Going to the Sun Road, one of the prettiest and most impressive roads in the US. Early when it first opens is best - it closes at night for rock fall. If you don't want to drive, there are shuttle buses that do the trip.

    2. Stop at the Logan Pass visitor center up at the top. In July the animals will mostly be up high and are often near here. There is a trail behind the visitor center that heads toward a lake. Many animal sightings along the trail but don't make the lake your destination. It's only a couple of miles but it has significant elevation involved. Hat, sunscreen and plenty of water when hiking at altitude.

    3. St. Mary visitor center at the end of St. Mary Lake. From there, you can take a boat to the far end of the lake. There is an easy hike through the woods to an unspectacular waterfall.

    4. Ranger led events: They will have a number of sponsored events, music, nature talks, etc. Don't miss Jack Gladstone if he is there.

    5. It's not in the park but we liked the small museum out on the Blackfeet reservation.

    I left off most of our trip because much of what we did was mountainous and strenuous. Totally Jealous. Have a great trip.
  • 1214mom1214mom Registered User Posts: 4,280 Senior Member
    We loved Glacier. I suggest visiting the various regions of the park. We stayed on the west side for much of our trip, but drove over to the north east side for 1 overnight. I can't think of the name of that part, but it was our favorite. I hope you can stay in the park for at least part of your trip. If you haven't secured reservations yet, and are flexible, try calling every day. We got a cancellation. We were there the week Going to the Sun Road opened, and there were people skiing and snowboarding at the visitor center up at the top. We took a boat ride and hiked in one section (Two Medicine?). St Mary(?) may have been the best location for a variety of activities.
  • OnwardOnward Registered User Posts: 2,932 Senior Member
    We were there about five years ago and I remember we liked a little café called Two Sisters. I think it had good pie.
  • HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 33,117 Senior Member
    Yes, we are staying IN the park the whole time we are there (about a week). We will stay two nights at different portions of the park. We will have two cars for the four of us. Sadly, I do not think strenuous hikes are a good idea for H or myself but perhaps my friends will do one without us. Altitudes are not kind to my lungs and H's joints. I'm planning to enjoy the scenery, as I love wide open spaces and nature. H has a Golden Age pass, so we should be able to get in the park free for our car.
  • SlitheyToveSlitheyTove Registered User Posts: 6,348 Senior Member
    Loved touring the park in the historic red cars. Nice supplement to driving Going to the Sun Road, since no one in your party has to be responsible and keep their eyes on the road.

    The historic lodges are lovely. We stayed at Many Glacier Inn; lots of great trailheads right out the door.

    Glad to hear that Two Sisters is still open, because I remember their pies as well. Have a picture of the two D's, both quite young, in front of the restaurant sign.
  • 1214mom1214mom Registered User Posts: 4,280 Senior Member
    I got a note today indicating Going to the Sun Toad is open! It's a must do.
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,771 Senior Member
    DON'T drive Going-to-the-Sun...book the historic cars to drive YOU. You don't want to miss one second of the Garden Wall. Those switchbacks can't be driven safely without full attention to the road, and every waterfall, wildflower, and valley view will take your breath away.

    Up at Logan Pass at the top of the road, there are nearly-flat hikes with incredible scenery. You will likely see mountain goats and their adorable babies right from the parking lot. It's extraordinary.
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School Registered User Posts: 3,203 Senior Member
    Don't forget your passports. The park continues north into Canada with a lot more to see. I'd also strongly suggest not driving at night, there are elk and cattle all over, and it's pretty easy to have a nighttime collision.
  • HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 33,117 Senior Member
    Thanks for these suggestions. Keep them coming! I'm VERY excited!
  • LBowieLBowie Registered User Posts: 1,842 Senior Member
    I am jealous you will get to see some goatie-goats! That was my favorite part.
  • GatormamaGatormama Registered User Posts: 1,040 Senior Member
    Lake McDonald is beautiful - even if you don't stay at the lodge there, try to visit. The water is crystal clear and the views are tremendous.

    The Grinnell hike is, I guess, a moderately difficult hike in terms of altitude, but well worth it. The ascent is steeper at the beginning and then levels out. Take your time and give it a try! It's 8 miles if you take the boat ride to get to the trailhead. Even if you don't do the hike, the boat ride is scenic - or there's an easy, flat hike around Swiftcurrent Lake that'll also take you to the trailhead where you could catch the boat back, I believe.

    Avalanche Lake is another easy hike that leads to a beautiful lake with that azure water color that's so prevalent ...
    Trail of the Cedars is an easy, short boardwalk hike.

    Bears are everywhere at Glacier - wear bells, consider bear spray, talk to the rangers about sightings.

    We are going to Yellowstone next week for our kids' first visit to the Rockies. Glacier will have to wait for another trip.
    Enjoy! It's phenomenal!
  • NorthMinnesotaNorthMinnesota Registered User Posts: 6,666 Senior Member
    edited June 2017
    I agree with those encouraging you to head up Going to the Sun road and stopping at Logan Pass. A stop at the Continental Divide is also a unique photo op. We like entering at Many Glacier and stopping at the lodge there. My familiy really enjoyed taking the historic boats from the lodge across Swiftcurrent lake, a small hike to Lake Josephine and then hiking up to the Glacier. My bad knee restricted me from heading to the Glacier but there is another flat trail to a beautiful aqua lake that is quite easy.

  • HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 33,117 Senior Member
    Thanks. So many good ideas. We will have to do another trip with our "kids" after we do thus one. It sounds lovely.
  • arabrabarabrab Registered User Posts: 5,961 Senior Member
    Bring a WARM jacket and hat. And gloves. It is Glacier. We got caught in a blizzard there around the 20th of June in 2014. Nearly ended up spending the night on the floor of the Indian casino. We were the second-to-last vehicle that managed to make it back to the lodge. https://www.livescience.com/46408-june-snowstorm-glacier-national-park-photos.html
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