Our month of August was full of visitors. After Toby and Annika left us, and after we returned form LA, my friend Mackenzi came to visit from Denver to join us for a week in Glacier NP. We’ve always wanted to go to Glacier, and while we were already up north was the perfect time to go. Toby and Annika got hotels every night because it would be crazy to sleep 4 in the camper, but when we only have one friend visit at a time they often can just sleep in the dinette that turns into a side bed. It gets a little crazy with 3 people in the camper, but it’s worth it when friends fly in so they don’t have to bring all their camping gear.
We absolutely loved Glacier. We went to 4 of the 7 entrances, and hiked 35+ miles that week. This was really impressive considering I had a knee injury the previous month and wasn’t sure I’d be able to hike at all. We did all the most popular hikes since it was all of our first times there. It had rained the first couple days of our trip, but the clouds were starting to clear and we had perfect weather the rest of the trip. The Hidden Lake trail was closed halfway because a grizzly was apparently working its way through a goat carcass at the lake. The Highline Trail was absolutely beautiful, but it also absolutely killed our legs because it goes downhill for the majority of the hike.
Camping in Glacier in an RV was tricky to plan out. The park has one major pass through the park – the Going to the Sun Road, which has vehicle size restrictions. You can’t be taller than 10 ft, wider than 8 feet, or longer than 21 feet because the pass gets really narrow. Since we’re too tall and too long, we weren’t allowed past the Avalanche campground, meaning we only could camp in a couple areas, and we’d have to take the park’s free shuttle to get anywhere else along the Going to the Sun Road. We camped outside the park the first night in a really great spot in West Glacier, but after entering the park we didn’t want to have to drive in and out every day. There’s only so many first-come, first-serve spots, and you have to time it perfectly to get there early enough to get a spot, but not too early that nobody has left yet. We got there too early, and it was foggy and cold so nobody had checked out of their spots yet. We ended up waiting and getting a spot, but it delays the whole day.
Then we had to wait in line for the shuttle. We learned that if you get on the shuttle at the West Entrance to the park, they make you with get off at the first stop (the Avalanche campground where we were now camped), and get back in line to get on a smaller shuttle due to the size restrictions. So luckily we only had to wait in line once, but we still waited half an hour. The smaller shuttles only fit 12 -15 people, so the people who got on the shuttle at the park entrance probably ended up waiting over an hour. Probably the best way to visit the park is via motorcycle since you can avoid the shuttles all together, it would be full of beautiful views and the parking would be fairly easy.
We also went to visit the east entrances to the park, including Many Glacier, St. Mary and Two Medicine. The east side of the park is all Blackfeet reservation land. The Blackfeet prohibit any kind of roadside camping, so this meant having to camp inside the park again, camping in an RV park on Blackfeet land, or having to drive an extra couple hours to get back to national forest land. We did all three of those options for the second half of the week. We found an easy spot to camp in national forest land right off the highway between the West side and East side before entering Two Medicine the next day. This part of the park is normally less crowded, as none of the really popular hikes are accessed from this entrance, but it was still really worth visiting. It was more peaceful and allowed us a rest day in between our big hikes, and we also got the kayak out for an afternoon.
We took the shuttle again from the St. Mary side of the park to get to see the other side of the Going to the Sun Road. This side had some different viewpoints of the glaciers and a very pretty different landscape. In Many Glacier, we didn’t have to take a shuttle, but then it means finding a parking spot is pretty difficult. From there we hiked to Grinnell Lake, one of the more popular trails. A couple on the trail told us they had just seen a grizzly bear around the corner from us, but it was already gone by the time we got there. I have an irrational fear of running into a grizzly bear, so I had the bear spray at the ready. We didn’t actually see any grizzlys, we only saw a mama black bear with two cubs eating berries from the car on our way out the park on our last day, which in my opinion is the best way to see a bear.